Don’t Write Stupid Stuff (Or, a Response to Eric Bearse)

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I was quite surprised to see that Quorum Report, a Texas politico news source, published a piece on foreign policy by an Austin Republican consultant. I had to read the piece, titled, “Bearse: Stupid Stuff,” to see what this guy has to say about foreign policy.

Eric Bearse, described in the biography accompanying his op-ed in Quorum Report yesterday, is “a speechwriter, political consultant and public relations specialist.” On LinkedIn, one finds he owns a political communications consulting firm, and 20 years ago, was a constituent correspondence clerk in a Republican U.S. senator’s office, writing (or finding the correct form letter?) responses to constituents’ letters about military affairs.

What I’m not saying by pointing out the above is that he’s unqualified to offer his opinion on this matter because he’s never served in the military. Nor am I saying he shouldn’t express an opinion on the subject at all, as is his right. I think that’s a bullshit, last-ditch rhetorical move. It’s reflexive, but incorrect. It’s the foreign affairs/defense policy version of the Hitler move. There are definitely civilians with a greater understanding of foreign policy than your average sergeant, civilian, retiree, colonel and president even. What I am saying is that I can’t understand why Bearse would write about “stuff” so out of his depth – and so negate his own argument – and then have Harvey Kronberg publish it.

The op-ed is paywalled, so I’ll have to just quote very heavily:

Bearse begins:

“Don’t do stupid ‘stuff.’” Apparently those four words – or three of them and one expletive not suited for this family publication – are the new Obama foreign policy. Trotted out to foreign policy reporters in White House interviews, we now have reduced the nuance and complexity of foreign policy to a political bumper sticker.

Don’t write stupid shit. Period. Full stop. Eric Bearse should have stopped there and reconsidered writing the rest of his essay. Instead, he chose the bumper sticker, “Let’s roll.” (That one worked out so well in the past.)

Over-caffeinated minds can come up with a lot of interesting ideas, pretty much all of which should be shelved when the president speaks. Imagine the Bush 43 White House giving us “stuff happens” about those missing weapons of mass destruction. Or Clinton giving us “wag the stuff” (Clinton is still the king of the double entendre, by the way.) Reagan: “peace through stuff.”

He gets a little caught up in the “stuffing” in his piece. “Stuff happens” was pretty much the video of President George W. Bush playing hide and seek with his dog while looking for WMDs around the White House. The ones that were supposed to be in Iraq. Yeah, remember that video? Clinton, of course, got a blowjob and an impeachment. Dubya got laughs for starting a war on false pretenses. But Bearse doesn’t remember that. He’s too busy wrapping himself in argumentative tangles by criticizing sloganeering and then copping to it (he is a communications professional, you know), as bolded below.

My 10-year old daughter suggested I write about “stuffity stuff” for this column. The point is not this White House’s eternal campaign, and the need to sloganize everything – all White Houses do this – it’s that no one put down the soy latte and said let’s have an adult conversation with the American People.

But, yes, Eric, put down your soy latte (I prefer mine with whole milk, thanks) and let’s have an adult conversation with the American People. See, we did a lot of stupid stuff during George W.’s eight-year run. I always said it would take at least three Democratic presidential terms to clean up his messes. Not starting worthless wars? That’s a smart thing to do. Not destabilizing an entire region’s balance of power? That’s a smart thing to do. Knowing what you’re getting yourself into when you send soldiers to war? That’s a smart thing to do.

I’m clipping a paragraph here because (a) the first sentence and none that follow it make any sense or have argumentative value, and (b) – well, that’s it really. Neither do the below, but I want to point out his slip from describing hipster leftists into a new, serious low. Thus, I’m going to let him screw himself in the next few paragraphs.

I have long imagined a conversation in the White House over Israel:

Obama: The Jews are with us, and always will be, so let’s do the right thing to bring peace to the Middle East.

Biden: I think it’s time to give it back to the Palestinians Mr. President. We all know the world made them swallow their own hummus out of guilt for the Jews.

Obama: Joe, don’t you have a speech to go plagiarize?

You do know Jews eat hummus, too, right, Bearse? Your subtle racism doesn’t quite hit the mark, but it is noted in your permanent file.

A political communications specialist calling someone out for plagiarism? You’ve got to be kidding me.

Or maybe the White House was reacting to the State Department spokeswoman who recently said the president doesn’t take enough credit for his foreign policy accomplishments, and who tweeted at the Russians to be nice to Ukraine. #StupidStuff.

Yes, but, following the same policy as your beloved Bush, no American boots touched the ground and we are inflicting heavy economic damage to Russia. And that only helps Texas – the source of so much of the shale boom. Once we’re in the European market, we make the money that Russia once did.

And then there is the whole Sergeant Bergdahl mess. I can definitely picture the White House conversation on this one. If you want to make peace with vets, and take the VA off the front page, bring a POW home.

It is a good thing Sergeant Bergdahl is on his way home. But I am disgusted by the White House. Surely rumors of his desertion are no surprise. And the moment his fellow soldiers started to raise questions, one flack said they were “swift-boating.” That’s how you win the spin cycle – attack the guys who risked their lives to find a guy many of them thought deserted.

By the way, liberals can cry foul about Republicans raising questions about the whole swap, but the people really raising questions are his fellow soldiers. They deserve answers, as do the families who lost their sons searching for him.

Oh, what a difference a few hours make. While the Republicans are stoking the flames on the Bergdahl trade (maybe because it starts with the same letter as Benghazi? That will make it easier for Rick Perry to remember them both on the campaign trail, I hope), news is trickling out about his questionable mental health prior to even joining the military.

Everyone knows Bergdahl walked off. That’s been known since the beginning – and has been well-chronicled since then. If Bearse doesn’t know that, he hasn’t been paying attention to foreign policy lately. (Finding a trend here?) There are also more than a few examples of folks like McCain flip-flopping on negotiating to get Bergdahl back.

And what does he call this media firestorm about Bergdahl? The calls for investigations? The investigations themselves? Are they not raising questions – and answering them – for everyone?

No one ever thought this guy may have had mental problems before he walked off? Anyone ever read Catch-22?

Snipped paragraph for containing only mudslinging at the Democratic Party.

President Obama cavalierly dismissed the criticism, saying prisoner exchanges are typical at the end of wars. Wait, did someone tell the terrorists that their war with America is almost over? Obama said so. I am sure they will honor the request of a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Remember when the Taliban blew up those Buddhist monuments? Remember the outrage? And the moral outrage over their treatment of women? Yeah, we didn’t invade then. We invaded only after 9/11, seeking terrorists and overthrowing the government (the Taliban) to, at the time we hoped, bring about a democratic country that would no longer host foreign terrorist fighters. Again, a history lesson suggestion: As soon as Bearse discovers the difference between al Qaeda and the Taliban, we can talk. Also, once he realizes that the war is ending for American troops in Afghanistan, he may want to reconsider his stance.

Ad hominem and #Benghazi paragraph cut.

[The Taliban] are not won over by moral argument. The only language they speak is violence. Five of them are now free to wreak havoc again. And we are left with a lot of questions, and a slogan made up for the first hipster president. It’s not the stupid stuff I am worried about. It’s the naïve stuff. It’s time the president and his advisors see the world as it is: dangerous and complex, not suitable for bumper stickers. It’s time for America to return to what it always does: do the right stuff.

“The only Arabic I’m speakin’s/ Gettin’ spoke through this gun.” Those are lyrics from the song on the album Live From Iraq dropped by the first U.S. Army soldiers/hip-hop artists to record live from Iraq. That seems to be Bearse’s policy, too. Then again, most Republican solutions — domestic and foreign — involve guns.

Republicans seriously believe getting a POW back is a media play? That’s abhorrent. It’s hard for me to say it or to understand it, but maybe Bearse’s lack of service in something less self-serving than Republican politics prevents his comprehension of leaving no one behind. You can face a court-martial or a hero’s celebration here, but we won’t allow you to remain in enemy hands. (But also note the new revelations of his mental health.)

And anyone who thinks we haven’t had eyes on the five guys who were released since the moment we handed them over is an idiot. Those detainees are probably still checking their ass-cracks to make sure we didn’t shove a bug where the sun don’t shine. Have you seen how well our UAVs work, Eric? There are videos online I can send you.

Finally, Eric, you should note that George W.’s pet project in the Middle East is going to take another Democratic president to clean up, as I predicted.

Maybe a better bumper sticker would be: Do the smart thing. Or: Do smart shit. Mine’s even shorter when the expletive is used. How’s that for conservatism!

Stick to state government, Bearse. Bashing the Obama administration for politicizing something is a bit self-defeating, given your entire career is based on doing the same. The next time the Good Idea Fairy taps you on the shoulder, Eric, remember your clear lack of experience in and knowledge of foreign affairs and defense policy. Then just admit to touting the party line, like a good little rightwing foot soldier.

(Given Bearse worked for Gov. Rick Perry, can we assume his former boss shares such similarly convoluted, incomprehensible foreign policy ideas?)

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