As the curtain comes down on the regime of Muammar Qaddafi, it is difficult to view the event as anything but a foreign policy success for the United States and its NATO allies, not to mention a great moment for the long-suffering people of Libya— unless, of course, you happen to be a member of the Republican elite.

Even the manner in which Qaddafi met his end serves as a wonderfully symmetrical symbol of the success of the president’s “lead from behind” strategy. It was a United States predator drone that spotted Qaddafi attempting to make his escape out of Sirte as his hometown was falling to the rebels; a French aircraft’s missiles that thwarted the escape effort; and Libyan soldiers who found the dictator hiding in a sewer pipe, captured him and brought his life to an end.

Perfect…unless, as noted, you happen to be a member of the Republican elite.

Within minutes of confirmation that Qaddafi had met his demise, the GOP made the decision to react to the news as the small minded, spiteful people that they are.

Senators McCain, Rubio and Graham stepped up to the microphones to express their gratitude to our French and British allies—well deserve by the way—each taking great care to avoid crediting the Obama strategy for any part in this success.

Small words from small, small people.

At least Mitt Romney, after first attempting to deny Obama any credit, realized what a boneheaded position this was and reversed himself. Or maybe reversing himself was just Mitt Romney being Mitt Romney.

The whole pathetic effort reminded me of a losing quarterback who credits only the offensive line of the opposing team for achieving a 52-0 smack down win—despite the fact that the opposing quarterback had thrown for all 52 points while the spiteful loser had thrown for zero.

As the day wore on, it only got worse. Appearing on Fox, Sen. Graham (R-SC) had this to say when discussing the future of Libya:

“We can go over there and help them build their infrastructure up.”


On the very day that Graham—and each and every one of his fellow senate Republicans—voted down a proposal to authorize money that would keep teachers teaching and first responders responding, and despite Graham’s perfect voting record when it comes to blocking badly needed infrastructure investment here in the United States, such as repairs to schools and bridges, Graham declared his enthusiasm for spending a bunch of money to engage in yet another nation building exercise—this time on the African continent (yes, Congresswoman Bachmann, Libya is actually on the African Continent despite your commenting, “The president, he put us in Libya. He is now putting us in Africa.”)

Why is Graham so keen to invest in Libya’s infrastructure while gladly allowing his own nation to crumble in ruin? Let’s go to the tape as the good senator explains his position:

“Let’s get in on the ground. There is a lot of money to be made in the future in Libya. A lot of oil to be produced.”

Yeah, baby!

Who needs to provide American children with an education when you can use taxpayer money to set things up for the U.S. oil barons to steal the huge supplies of oil that belong to the Libyan people? So what if a few folks in Minneapolis fall to their death when the bridge collapses when we’re talking billions in profits laying around in the African desert just waiting to be picked dry.

What is important here is that we spend taxpayer cash to make the oil producing investments that we dare not ask the oil companies to expend on their own in their effort to make a few extra bucks for their shareholders.

Senator Graham’s position could not have been expressed any more clearly. Now that the French and English (nod nod —wink wink) have succeeded in helping to free the Libyan people, the Libyans must now submit to being America’s oil bitch, or else.

There is no surprise in learning that McCain and Graham—who along with their third Musketeer, Joe Lieberman, never met a Muslin nation they do not wish to invade —would respond to being proven strategically wrong by attempting to pretend Obama’s clever plan to bring down Qaddafi never happened.

The surprise is that Graham would so openly and boldly pitch the idea of spending taxpayer money to grab Libya’s oil without so much as paying lip service to the importance of having helped these people to achieve their freedom.

Now, I realize that this sad behavior will never register on the millions of Americans who can’t be bothered with paying attention to the low-quality of leaders they have chosen to get behind, no matter how regrettable or shocking their choice may be.

But to the many Independents—the ones who actually decide elections—are you getting all this? I sincerely hope so.

I hope so because a nation of the size and importance of the United States simply cannot prosper or, for that matter, survive when it is being run by small men and women in very big jobs.

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Rick Ungar is an attorney in Southern California and a frequent writer, speaker and consultant on health care policy and politics. He is a contributing writer at Forbes. Readers can reach him at rickungar [at] gmail [dot] com.