Saturday, August 28, 2021


Juan Cole just published a post titled "Top 4 Times US Troops Were Bombed Under Republican Presidents and No One Resigned or Was Impeached." Here's Cole's first example:
On October 23, 1983, radical Shiites of the Islamic Amal offshoot truck-bombed the Marine barracks in Beirut, after Ronald Reagan sent in a peacekeeping team in the wake of the unprovoked 1982 Israeli invasion of that country and its subsequent collapse back into civil war. The attack killed 241 US military personnel. A separate attack killed 58 French troops at a nearby site.

President Reagan did not offer to resign over the attack. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill did not bring up impeaching the president. in December, two months after the attack, Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) did call for the resignation over the security lapse of Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger (“Weinberger must Resign,” UPI, December 29, 1983). Weinberger did not resign.
But that wasn't an isolated event, as Jane Mayer noted in 2014:
Six months earlier, militants had bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, too, killing sixty-three more people, including seventeen Americans. Among the dead were seven C.I.A. officers, including the agency’s top analyst in the Middle East, an immensely valuable intelligence asset, and the Beirut station chief....

In September of 1984, for the third time in eighteen months, jihadists bombed a U.S. government outpost in Beirut yet again.
Twenty-four people were killed in that September 1984 bombing, including two U.S. servicemembers. As Mayer noted, Reagan responded with excuses:
President Reagan acknowledged that the new security precautions that had been advocated by Congress hadn’t yet been implemented at the U.S. embassy annex that had been hit. The problem, the President admitted, was that the repairs hadn’t quite been completed on time. As he put it, “Anyone who’s ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would.”
Were there widespread calls for Reagan's resignation? Was this the sequence of events that destroyed his presidency? Not at all. Reagan was in the middle of a reelection campaign, and he didn't even stop campaigning.

The third bombing took place on September 20, 1984. I'll quote what I wrote several years ago:
What did Ronald Reagan do on September 21, 1984? He made three campaign appearances in Iowa -- at an airport rally, a farm, and a church picnic.... He then returned to Washington and made a well-publicized visit to the home of seven-year-old Rudolph Lee-Hines, who lived in the predominantly black Congress Heights section of Washington. Reagan had dinner at the home of Lee-Hines, who was described in news reports as Reagan's "pen pal"; they'd exchanged several letters after a Reagan visit to the boy's school the previous March.

As a housewarming gift, Reagan brought a jar of jelly beans.
(For those of you who are too young to remember, Reagan's fondness for jelly beans was much remarked upon in the media, and was an important part of his genial-grandpa brand.)

Forty-seven days after that third bombing, Ronald Reagan was reelected president by a 59%-41% popular vote margin. He won 49 of 50 states. And until Donald Trump came along, he was the favorite president of nearly everyone who's calling for Joe Biden's head right now.

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