Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 5:55pm
By Craig Shirley
In 1980 President Carter ordered and then aborted a rescue operation of the Iranian Hostages which the military called “Desert One.”
As you recall, it failed when the operation was cancelled in part because the mission parameters called for using six helicopters (as I recall) but the engines overheated on at least one of the choppers because the fine Iranian sand clogged the air filters.
One helicopter slammed into a parked C-130 and eight American servicemen were killed in the ensuing explosion.
The political ramification was that Carter’s approval rating went up 10 percent after the failed operation and Governor Reagan wisely tiptoed through the crisis. He urged criticism to be devoted to “prayers.”
Romney’s attack last night on Obama was, to be crass, bad tactical politics because in a foreign policy crisis, the American people always rally to the president.
Romney should have stood by the government, at least in the short term. There is still plenty of time for finger pointing.
This is the ongoing problem with the Romney campaign; there seems to be a lack of sophisticated thinking.
Some will pick up on what is now going on in the Middle East as another comparison between 1980 and 2012 but in fact, we don’t have hostages in Tehran and Obama’s strong suit is foreign policy, where it was not with Carter. (Neither was domestic policy Carter’s strong suit, as we found out.)
All this illustrates the difference between Reagan and Romney and how they handled similar international emergencies.