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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Here’s something to really boo about

Telegraph Editorial

What’s worse than an audience at a Republican presidential debate booing an American soldier now serving his country in Iraq?

A New Hampshire lawmaker praising that behavior as “great” a week later.

There isn’t much else to say about what transpired last month at a nationally televised Fox News/Google debate at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

Oh, did we mention the soldier asking the question was gay?

Or that he was asking if any of the candidates, if elected, intended to reinstate the recently repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that banned gays from serving openly in the military?

Does it matter? Does that make the booing any more acceptable?

We thought it was bad enough when not one of the nine candidates on stage – not one – said a single word in defense of Army soldier Stephen Hill or condemned the audience’s boorish behavior, though several did apologize for not doing so in the days after the debate.

But then we read and watched the embarrassing comments made by one of our elected officials – Rep. Alfred Baldasaro, R-Londonderry – after Rick Perry staged a town hall meeting in Derry last Friday.

Baldasaro, who is backing the Texas governor’s bid for the GOP nomination, was asked about the incident that night by the liberal Web site ThinkProgress.org.

During that interview, which was recorded and is available on the organization’s Web site, Baldasaro said he was “so disgusted over that gay Marine (sic) coming out” at a political event.

Then there was this gem: “He doesn’t realize it, but when the (expletive) hits the fan, you want your brothers covering your back, not looking at your back.”

Finally, he was asked if he took any offense to the audience’s reaction.

“Oh no, I thought the audience, when they booed (him), I thought it was great.”

There you have it. A state lawmaker, a retired Marine himself, praising those in the audience who booed and jeered a U.S. serviceman on active duty in Iraq.

Several Republican presidential candidates – admittedly under intense duress – later apologized for not thanking Hill for his service to his country and not condemning the audience’s reaction.

“When someone in uniform asks a question of a panelist in this case, the first response should be thanking the soldier for his or her service,” former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman told ABC News. “We all wear the same uniform in America. We all salute the same flag.”

Businessman Herman Cain, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also condemned the booing days after the event.

But not our esteemed state representative from Londonderry. Four days after making those ill-conceived statements to ThinkProgress, Baldasaro chose to adamantly defend them in a interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader.

“I already said what I said,” he said Tuesday. “This is just getting to be a big thing because this is the political season.”

Bullfeathers.

This is a “big thing” because a New Hampshire elected official – the chairman of the House State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee, no less – had the audacity to say it was “great” that a soldier putting his life on the line for his country was booed just because of his sexual orientation.