Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
When commenting on Moammar Gadhafi's ouster, Republican candidates are short on praise for the role played by President Obama and heavy on caution for the future of the fragile nation.
Mitt Romney performed a quick pivot by calling on the new government to extradite a suspected terrorist, demonstrating a command of recent history as well as previewing his foreign policy priorities. Michele Bachmann wasted no time reminding voters that she was against operations in Libya from the start. And while weaker candidates took the chance to bash Obama's leadership, none of the hopefuls gave any credit to the president for the apparent success of the mission.
“The world is about to be rid of Muommar Gadhafi, the brutal tyrant who terrorized the Libyan people. It is my hope that Libya will now move toward a representative form of government that supports freedom, human rights, and the rule of law. As a first step, I call on this new government to arrest and extradite the mastermind behind the bombing of Pan Am 103, Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi, so justice can finally be done.”
“The crumbling of Moammar Gadhafi’s reign, a violent, repressive dictatorship with a history of terrorism, is cause for cautious celebration. The lasting impact of events in Libya will depend on ensuring rebel factions form a unified, civil government that guarantees personal freedoms, and builds a new relationship with the West where we are allies instead of adversaries.”
“I opposed U.S. military involvement in Libya and I am hopeful that our intervention there is about to end. I also hope the progress of events in Libya will ultimately lead to a government that honors the rule of law, respects the people of Libya and their yearning for freedom, and one that will be a good partner to the United States and the international community.”
"The impending fall of Colonel Gadhafi is one chapter in the developing story of a nation in turmoil. Gadhafi has been a longtime opponent of freedom, and I am hopeful—as the whole world should be—that his defeat is a step toward openness, democracy and human rights for a people who greatly deserve it."
“Ridding the world of the likes of Gadhafi is a good thing, but this indecisive president had little to do with this triumph. The stated task from the very beginning for this administration was to determine whether the US can positively influence the direction of the successor government. As we have seen in Egypt, the euphoria of toppling a dictator does not always result in more security for us and our allies in the region.”
"This president decided to follow, rather than lead. Hats off to Prime Minister to Cameron, hats off to Sarkozy; they led in this effort. The United States, by President Obama's decision, wanted to follow from the rear, so he can't sit back now and claim 'look how well our strategy worked.' He did not show the proper leadership on this, even though we were providing greatest amount of support in terms of our military cost. So now he's gonna try and once again take credit for something he had no reason to get credit for, because he did not take leadership."