McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–Art Linkletter should consider a new television show based on his popular “Kid’s Say the Darndest Things” program. He could call it “Politicians Say the Stupidest Things.” Given the gaffes of recent weeks, he would have no shortage of guests.
The most recent “Foot-in-Mouth” award goes to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who shared some of her observations concerning the war on terror while addressing an audience of high school students. You might have missed these scintillating insights, since most major news outlets have yet to find the senator’s comments newsworthy.
In her closing remarks to a Vancouver High School class, Murray said, “We’ve got to ask why is this man [Osama bin Laden] so popular around the world. Why are people so supportive of him in many countries that are riddled with poverty?”
Murray’s answer to the question she posed is Osama’s benevolence: “[He’s] been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building daycare centers, building healthcare facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven’t done that. How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that…?”
Critics charge the statements are unpatriotic. Supporters assert the comments were made off the cuff and therefore should be dismissed. Murray is defending her remarks by saying she was simply trying to raise questions about American foreign policy. I find the whole situation amazingly insightful.
Considering Murray’s statement came on the heels of Trent Lott’s now infamous praise of Strom Thurmond, one would think that Democratic leaders and national media alike would have taken the senator to task — if for nothing else the gross inaccuracy of her comments. However, it seems that when Democrats and/or liberals misstate the facts they are only raising questions or broadening dialogue. I will remind you, meanwhile, that some of Lott’s sharpest critics were Republicans and conservatives.
One does not have to be a foreign policy guru to catch the inaccuracies in Murray’s observation. While some experts agree that bin Laden has spent some money in Sudan and Afghanistan on constructing schools, roads and hospitals, these projects are not quite as benevolent as Senator Murray might lead us to believe.
According to a Fox News report, the roads bin Laden built had the purpose of transporting soldiers to training camps, the schools were used to indoctrinate students in Osama’s America-hating brand of Islam, and the hospitals were intended not for average citizens but for soldiers injured in the battle with the Soviets. As for the daycare centers, well let’s just say they were invisible.
If I can uncover the misleading nature of Murray’s comments, surely those more in the know who make their living in and around Capitol Hill should be able to as well. However, at this point very little has been reported on the senator’s comments and, as far as I know, no Democratic leader has uttered a peep on Murray’s misstatement.
In light of the Trent Lott situation, I was led to believe that politicians — and others in the public eye — were now going to be held accountable for insensitive, inaccurate and/or misleading statements. However, considering the inattention Murray’s comments have received thus far, it seems only Republican or conservative politicians and/or leaders are going to be required to meet a higher criterion. Can you say media bias? How about Democratic double standard? I thought you could.
Acting legend John Wayne is reported to have said, “Life is tough. It’s even tougher if you’re stupid.” I understand politics is anything but easy. However, it should be tougher if you say and/or do stupid things, party affiliation and political philosophy notwithstanding.
Boggs is pastor of Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore.