Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings.

Let’s say you’re a State Department official, and you learn that in a country with a strong terrorist presence, there may be a bomb attack on the United States embassy. Do you 1) close the embassy, thereby protecting the lives of the personnel there, or 2) Keep the embassy open, cause you know, to hell with them darn terrorists. Bring ‘em on! Before you answer, keep in mind that if you close the embassy, terrorists might interpret it as a “sign of weakness.” And how many lives is that worth?

If you answered something above “zero,” to the last question, guess what – you’re qualified to be on Fox News. I give you Republican uber-pundit Bill Kristol:

“No one wants State Department officials to be put at risk and all that, but that is a sign of weakness. Closing the embassy? We can’t protect our own embassy in Yemen, a place we have special operations forces, a place we say we’re working with the government on the front lines of the war on terror, and there’s a terror threat, and we close the embassy? That’s a victory for al Qaeda.”

Once again, conservatives are terribly concerned with how al-Qaeda feels. How many times have we been told that if we do a particular thing, or fail to do a particular thing, terrorists will be “emboldened,” as though the outcome of our battle against them will be determined by whether or not they are bold? You’ll notice, furthermore, that the argument about how al-Qaeda feels is invariably made by men who never themselves served in the military yet who are forever recommending that other people be put in harm’s way. Is it possible they feel they have something to prove, manhood-wise? And that they're particularly interested in whether other people think they're weak? I’m just saying.

--Paul Waldman

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