Adding insult to injury
I am a retired Foreign Service Officer (FSO) from the U.S. Department of State, now living in Sonoma. During the recent violence in Libya, I lost four colleagues. There are only 7,000 FSOs, so when one falls we all cry for them.
I have been in embassies under fire, have had an AK-47 shoved in my face, have faced down a 17-year-old with a loaded rifle in the garden of my home. When violence descends in our Missions thousands of miles from home, the one thing we count on is support from home.
Thus, I was stunned and furious when I saw Mitt Romney’s statements about the so-called “apologies” coming from our Embassy in Cairo.
When our Missions overseas are under attack, the first rule is that Americans stand together – politics ends at the water’s edge. The press officer in Cairo was trying to defuse a dangerous local situation. His message was not cleared in Washington. In fact, Washington told him to standby for a better – constructed message. He did not. Why? Who knows?
I’ve been in these situations. The streets are rumbling; you have the responsibility to try to avert disaster; you are there and Washington is not.
But Romney’s team did not feel constrained by considerations of what might be in the best interest of the people actually under attack. No. They tried to make political capital.
Shame on them. They disgraced the four brave Americans who were truly fighting for American ideals of
freedom, democracy and equality.
Later on, the tape of Romney addressing wealthy donors was released to the media. In that tape, Romney says that the 47 percent of people who support President Obama are people who pay no taxes, people who are totally dependent on government handouts. For me, those remarks added insult to injury.
I was already bruised by how he handled the Libya situation; now he has said that, because I support President Obama, I am a parasite, a leech on society, someone who pays no taxes and takes whatever I can from the government.
Well, Mr. Romney, here are the facts: I have retirement pay of $72,000 a year (before taxes), after 28 years of 24/7 service, under often dangerous conditions. I do not use Medicare, although I am entitled to it. I pay 20 percent federal taxes and 10 percent state taxes on my pension, plus local taxes and bond levies for the hospital, sewage and schools. I am a volunteer in a number of local charities and take no tax deduction for them. Only once in my life have I drawn unemployment benefits, and that was only for five weeks. I have never used food stamps or any other government provided assistance.
So, Mr. Romney, why would I ever support someone who espouses “values” like you? Like so many of my friends who support President Obama, I believe in charity for all, not just for those who think as I do.
I believe that the United States of America should not be a bully in the world but rather a conciliator working for cooperation. And I know that issues are not black or white, but complicated, intricate and not easily solved by bumper sticker mentality. I want a President smarter than I am and I have one. I’m sticking with him.
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Kate Schertz is a retired FSO and Sonoma resident.