By Joan Vennochi GLOBE COLUMNIST JULY 18, 2016
My country, right or wrong. America, love it or leave it.
That’s how Republicans define patriotism when they’re in charge of the White House. When things go wrong on their watch, those who question American policy and criticize its leaders are the “blame America first crowd.”
But who’s blaming America first now? Republicans. When they’re not in charge of the White House, they have no problem attacking the other side as incompetent and weak.
In 2016, Republicans aren’t blaming terrorists for the deaths of four Americans, including a US ambassador, in Benghazi in 2012. They are blaming Hillary Clinton. A House investigation essentially concluded she did nothing wrong. Yet Donald Trump recently suggested Clinton got away with “murder” and tonight’s Republican convention speaking schedule includes the mother of one of the victims of the Benghazi attack and two Marines who fought there.
Since Republicans turned Benghazi into a partisan attack on Clinton, many commentators have linked back to a speech given by Jeane Kirkpatrick during the Republican convention in Dallas, in 1984, when delegates gathered to nominate Ronald Reagan for a second time. After a 1983 truck bomb attack in Beirut killed 241 service members, critics “didn’t blame the terrorists, who murdered the Marines, they blamed the United States,” declared Kirkpatrick, a Democrat-turned-Republican who served as Reagan’s ambassador to the United Nations. “But then, they always blame America first,” added Kirkpatrick.