I’m completely with Dr. K on the Florida Koran burners:
It’s obviously an execrable, revolting act, what they’re going to be doing, although it’s curious we don’t hear a chorus of people telling us what a glory it is to the American system that all of us will defend his right to do it, even though we might question the wisdom of doing it.
I’m anxiously awaiting the president’s speech affirming the First Amendment right to burn Korans.
Apollo posted this at 7:03 PM CDT on Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 as Kraut-hammered
Charles Krauthammer’s column last week arguing in favor of torture under limited circumstances is far better than most on the subject. Not only is it well-reasoned, it’s actually willing to state clearly what it wishes to argue: that torture, without the quotation marks, can be justified under two circumstances:
The first is the ticking time bomb. An innocent’s life is at stake. The bad guy you have captured possesses information that could save this life. He refuses to divulge. In such a case, the choice is easy. Even John McCain, the most admirable and estimable torture opponent, says openly that in such circumstances, “You do what you have to do.” And then take the responsibility.
Some people, however, believe you never torture. Ever. They are akin to conscientious objectors who will never fight in any war under any circumstances, and for whom we correctly show respect by exempting them from war duty. But we would never make one of them Centcom commander. Private principles are fine, but you don’t entrust such a person with the military decisions upon which hinges the safety of the nation. It is similarly imprudent to have a person who would abjure torture in all circumstances making national security decisions upon which depends the protection of 300 million countrymen.
The second exception to the no-torture rule is the extraction of information from a high-value enemy in possession of high-value information likely to save lives. This case lacks the black-and-white clarity of the ticking time bomb scenario. We know less about the length of the fuse or the nature of the next attack. But we do know the danger is great. (One of the “torture memos” noted that the CIA had warned that terrorist “chatter” had reached pre-9/11 levels.) We know we must act but have no idea where or how — and we can’t know that until we have information. Catch-22.
I whole-heartedly agree with his first argument and — for the same Krauthammer offers — would question the fitness of anyone who refused to waterboard or do worse under when confronted with a genuine ticking time bomb. As I have stated elsewhere, I am not aware of this situation ever taking place during the War on Terror.
I do not agree with his second conclusion that torture is (legally? morally? Krauthammer never quite says) permissible to torture or waterboard “a high-value enemy” simply by his virtue of being one. Why, for instance, should we not waterboard a medium-value prisoner, when his information could likely lead to the capture of his superiors? It’s too slippery, and it’s only going to got down hill. When it comes to torture, I think we should insist on the kind of black-and-white certainty Krauthammer mentioned earlier.
Congressmen like Barney Frank are playing with fire. Populism is an explosive force because angry people are very likely to take out their wrath on the wrong target, much like a whipped dog attacking its own sides rather than the whip. The AIG bonuses seem egregious, but congress is only adding fuel to the fire when they stoke fury. Mona Charen observes that:
the most sinister move came from Barney Frank. He demanded that Liddy reveal the names of the 73 executives who had received retention bonuses. Liddy said he would so if he could receive a promise of confidentiality. Frank refused and threatened to subpoena the names. Liddy said if subpoenaed he would obey the law, but he then read to the committee some of the death threats his company had been getting over the past few days. Some threats spoke of hanging the executives with piano wire, others of finding where their kids went to school.
That is the sort of ugliness and criminality that Frank is willing tacitly to encourage by demanding the names. And for what? The bonuses amounted to just one-tenth of one percent of the AIG bailout (to say nothing of the stimulus bill and the gargantuan budget bill Congress and the president are hanging around our necks). If politicians want to metaphorically flay away at evil businessmen, well that’s regrettable. But when they cross the line into encouraging the targeting of actual individuals, they are no longer “honorable gentlemen,” but leaders of a mob.
Krauthammer explains why congress’s actions are very likely unconstitutional and short-sighted:
And there is such a thing as law. The way to break a contract legally is Chapter 11. Short of that, a contract is a contract. The AIG bonuses were agreed to before the government takeover and are perfectly legal. Is the rule now that when public anger is kindled, Congress will summarily cancel contracts?
Even worse are the clever schemes being cooked up in Congress to retrieve the money by means of some retroactive confiscatory tax. The common law is pretty clear about the impermissibility of ex post facto legislation and bills of attainder. They also happen to be specifically prohibited by the Constitution. We’re going to overturn that for $165 million?
And Linda Chavez both makes the case that many of the people at AIG actually deserve their bonuses and identifies the root of the real problem here in human nature:
When a company is collapsing — as AIG certainly was at the time these contracts were negotiated — everybody who has an alternative is looking to jump ship. Think about it. If you knew that your employer might not be around in a few months and you had very specialized skills that were much in demand elsewhere, would you be willing to go down with the ship? Not likely. But if your employer offered you a handsome financial incentive to stick around, you’d be far more likely to take the risk. Well, that’s exactly what AIG did when it negotiated retention bonuses.
But what about the people, who received those bonuses, that had already left the company? It’s legitimate to question whether those bonuses are deserved, but it’s ridiculous to jump to the conclusion they aren’t based solely on the information we currently have.
It depends on the circumstances surrounding their departures. If they just up and quit, leaving the company in the lurch, they aren’t entitled to the bonus. But my guess is that most of them left because the company decided it was in its interest either to eliminate the job or replace the individual with someone else. In that case, barring demonstrable fault on the part of the individual, the company would be obligated to pay the amount that had been promised when the employee agreed to stay on.
So if it’s not the principle of retention bonuses that infuriates people, what is it? It’s anger that the people who received these bonuses are greedy. But greed isn’t the only destructive vice out there. What’s driving public outrage right now is another unattractive vice: envy. Neither vice is healthy.
Class envy won’t put a single penny in anyone’s pocket. It won’t save jobs. It certainly won’t solve the credit crisis. And the irresponsible rhetoric from politicians will make it less likely that we will solve the real problems confronting the nation.
We’ve already had Sen. Charles Grassley suggest failed company executives ought to commit hari-kari — which he retracted later — and Rep. Barney Frank seemed perfectly happy to have AIG executives who received bonuses identified publicly even if it jeopardized their security. If this keeps up, it could turn really ugly. Mobs are difficult to control once they’ve been unleashed. But don’t expect any of the rabble-rousers on Capitol Hill or in the White House to take responsibility if things turn violent.
First we have complicated but perhaps justifiable reasons for bonuses. Second we have congressmen stirring up outrage in a matter that might shred constitutional guarantees against ex post facto laws. Third, we have a situation where this simplified narrative may prevent us from needed reforms, as Kim Strassel explains:
This spectacle has left the financial community with one impression: Stay away. What healthy bank, what hedge fund, what private equity firm wants to take part in an Obama plan to sell off toxic assets, or to revive consumer lending, with the knowledge that they might be Washington’s newest bonfire? Executives are already working to get out of TARP, fearful of political punishment. This despite a recession, falling house prices and growing bank losses.
As it happens, the administration has suggested the banks might need yet more public capital, not less. But just who in Congress is today prepared to vote to provide more funding, with greedy AIG on the public mind? It’s too busy passing laws to levy 90% taxes on bank employees everywhere.
Washington does have its grown-ups: Those few Republicans who tried for years to reform Fannie and Freddie, but who also voted for a necessary banking rescue; those in Congress who have tried to explain that the goal is not to bail out bankers, but to bail out ourselves; those very few who have stood up to remind Americans that — as distasteful as some Wall Street bonuses have appeared — it is far more pernicious for Washington to start setting salary caps. Sadly, their reward for political courage has been to be labeled as stooges of . . . greedy Wall Street.
That’s right. Washington has its story, and it’s sticking to it. Perhaps to the bitter end.
H.L. Mencken seems appropriate to quote here: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
At its core, this issue forces us to confront fundamental questions about the beginnings of life and the ends of science. It lives at a difficult moral intersection, juxtaposing the need to protect life in all its phases with the prospect of saving and improving life in all its stages.
As the discoveries of modern science create tremendous hope, they also lay vast ethical mine fields.
As the genius of science extends the horizons of what we can do, we increasingly confront complex questions about what we should do. We have arrived at that brave new world that seemed so distant in 1932 when Aldous Huxley wrote about human beings created in test tubes in what he called a hatchery.
Research offers hope that millions of our loved ones may be cured of a disease and rid of their suffering. I have friends whose children suffer from juvenile diabetes. Nancy Reagan has written me about President Reagan’s struggle with Alzheimer’s. My own family has confronted the tragedy of childhood leukemia. And like all Americans, I have great hope for cures.
I also believe human life is a sacred gift from our creator. I worry about a culture that devalues life, and believe as your president I have an important obligation to foster and encourage respect for life in America and throughout the world.
And while we’re all hopeful about the potential of this research, no one can be certain that the science will live up to the hope it has generated.
You got absolutely none of this from the supposedly thoughtful Obama. With him, stem cell research seems completely devoid of ethical dilemmas. I’m glad we finally got a smart guy in the White House who understands all sides of the issues.
Obama is channeling Jimmy Carter. Dr. Krauthammer puts things into perspective:
In these seven years since Sept. 11 — seven years during which thousands of Muslims rioted all over the world (resulting in the death of more than 100) to avenge a bunch of cartoons — there’s not been a single anti-Muslim riot in the United States to avenge the massacre of 3,000 innocents. On the contrary. In its aftermath, we elected our first Muslim member of Congress and our first president of Muslim parentage.
“My job,” says Obama, “is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives.” That’s his job? Do the American people think otherwise? Does he think he is bravely breaking new ground? George Bush, Condoleezza Rice and countless other leaders offered myriad expressions of that same universalist sentiment.
Every president has the right to portray himself as ushering in a new era of this or that. Obama wants to pursue new ties with Muslim nations, drawing on his own identity and associations. Good. But when his self-inflation as redeemer of U.S.-Muslim relations leads him to suggest that pre-Obama America was disrespectful or insensitive or uncaring of Muslims, he is engaging not just in fiction but in gratuitous disparagement of the country he is now privileged to lead.
Iran has already responded to the Obama overture. In perfect tune with Obama’s defensiveness, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that better relations might be possible — after America apologized for 60 years of crimes against Iran. Note the 60 years. The mullahs are as mystified by Obama’s pre-1979 (or 1989) good old days as I am.
I was skeptical that Obama would exorcise McGovernism from the Democrats. It looks like we’re back in 1977, only with no Reagan on the horizon.
There’s at least one conservative writer standing as a stalwart for the more conservative candidate, and it’s the guy who used to write speeches for Walter Mondale. No “wet fingered conservative” he.
On joining the ranks of the petulant “Obamacans:” “I shall have no part of this motley crew. I will go down with the McCain ship. I’d rather lose an election than lose my bearings.”
Who do you want answering that phone at 3 a.m.? A man who’s been cramming on these issues for the past year, who’s never had to make an executive decision affecting so much as a city, let alone the world? A foreign policy novice instinctively inclined to the flabbiest, most vaporous multilateralism (e.g., the Berlin Wall came down because of “a world that stands as one“), and who refers to the most deliberate act of war since Pearl Harbor as “the tragedy of 9/11,” a term more appropriate for a bus accident?
Or do you want a man who is the most prepared, most knowledgeable, most serious foreign policy thinker in the United States Senate? A man who not only has the best instincts but has the honor and the courage to, yes, put country first, as when he carried the lonely fight for the surge that turned Iraq from catastrophic defeat into achievable strategic victory?
The Obama choice is irresponsible, and it’s galling to have people telling us 1. John McCain was irresponsible in picking such an inexperienced candidate for vice president so 2. I’m going to vote for an inexperienced candidate for president. Krauthammer stays focused on the actual question at hand:
Today’s economic crisis, like every other in our history, will in time pass. But the barbarians will still be at the gates. Whom do you want on the parapet? I’m for the guy who can tell the lion from the lamb.
There is no single meaning of the Bush doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration — and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today. It is utterly different.
He asked Palin, “Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?”
She responded, quite sensibly to a question that is ambiguous, “In what respect, Charlie?”
Sensing his “gotcha” moment, Gibson refused to tell her. After making her fish for the answer, Gibson grudgingly explained to the moose-hunting rube that the Bush doctrine “is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense.”
I know something about the subject because, as the Wikipedia entry on the Bush doctrine notes, I was the first to use the term. In the cover essay of the June 4, 2001, issue of the Weekly Standardentitled, “The Bush Doctrine: ABM, Kyoto, and the New American Unilateralism,” I suggested that the Bush administration policies of unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM treaty and rejecting the Kyoto protocol, together with others, amounted to a radical change in foreign policy that should be called the Bush doctrine.
Then came 9/11, and that notion was immediately superseded by the advent of the war on terror. In his address to the joint session of Congress nine days after 9/11, President Bush declared: “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” This “with us or against us” policy regarding terror — first deployed against Pakistan when Secretary of State Colin Powell gave President Musharraf that seven-point ultimatum to end support for the Taliban and support our attack on Afghanistan — became the essence of the Bush doctrine.
Until Iraq. A year later, when the Iraq war was looming, Bush offered his major justification by enunciating a doctrine of preemptive war. This is the one Charlie Gibson thinks is theBush doctrine.
It’s not. It’s the third in a series and was superseded by the fourth and current definition of the Bush doctrine, the most sweeping formulation of the Bush approach to foreign policy and the one that most clearly and distinctively defines the Bush years: the idea that the fundamental mission of American foreign policy is to spread democracy throughout the world. It was most dramatically enunciated in Bush’s second inaugural address: “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.”
For what little it’s worth, the first, second, and third Bush doctrines still seem reasonable to me. It’s the fourth that’s problematic, since a majority of the people can be wrong a majority of the time.
As a former psychiatrist, I know how difficult it is to try to understand the soul of even someone you have spent hundreds of hours alone with in therapy. To think that one can decipher the inner life of some distant public figure is folly. . . .
“Know thyself” is a highly overrated piece of wisdom. As for knowing the self of others, forget it. Know what they do and judge them by their works.
“I can no more disown [Wright] than I can my white grandmother.” What exactly was Grandma’s offense? Jesse Jackson himself once admitted to the fear he feels from the footsteps of black men on the street. And Harry Truman was known to use epithets for blacks and Jews in private, yet is revered for desegregating the armed forces and recognizing the first Jewish state since Jesus’s time. He never spread racial hatred. Nor did Grandma.
Yet Obama compares her to Wright. Does he not see the moral difference between the occasional private expression of the prejudices of one’s time and the use of a public stage to spread racial lies and race hatred?
The Reverend Wright believes that AIDs was created by the government of the United States — and not as a cure for the common cold that went tragically awry and had to be covered up by Karl Rove, but for the explicit purpose of killing millions of its own citizens. The government has never come clean about this, but the Reverend Wright knows the truth. “The government lied,” he told his flock, “about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. The government lied.”
Does he really believe this? If so, he’s crazy, and no sane person would sit through his gibberish, certainly not for 20 years.
Or is he just saying it? In which case, he’s profoundly wicked. If you understand that AIDs is spread by sexual promiscuity and drug use, you’ll know that it’s within your power to protect yourself from the disease. If you’re told that it’s just whitey’s latest cunning plot to stick it to you, well, hey, it’s out of your hands, nothing to do with you or your behavior.
One quibble: it’s AIDS, not AIDs. AIDS stands for “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome,” and all letter of the acronym should be capitalized.
In a peculiar way, it may turn out that Obama will do more damage to race relations than Bill Clinton did. When Sister Souljah suggested that black people kill white people rather than other blacks, Clinton rightly slammed her, on the grounds that remarks like that deserve no respect. When given the opportunity to criticize the venom Wright spews, Obama whiffed. As Krauthammer noted above, Obama’s grandmother never spread divisiveness like Wright, and her remarks have been echoed by Jesse Jackson, who has also been afraid of strange black men. Obama had a chance to excise a tumor from the body politic.
But Obama chose differently, as Steyn put it:
Instead of distancing himself from his pastor, he attempted to close the gap between Wright and the rest of the country, arguing, in effect, that the guy is not just his crazy uncle but America’s, too.
To do this, he promoted a false equivalence. “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother,” he continued. “A woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street.” Well, according to the way he tells it in his book, it was one specific black man on her bus, and he wasn’t merely “passing by.” When the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan dumped some of his closest cabinet colleagues to extricate himself from a political crisis, the Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe responded: “Greater love hath no man than to lay down his friends for his life.” In Philadelphia, Senator Obama topped that: Greater love hath no man than to lay down his gran’ma for his life.
I was curious, so I picked up Dreams from my Father and read pages 88-91, which discuss the incident where his grandmother felt threatened. Money quote [emphases in original]:
I [Obama] took her into the other room and asked her what had happened.
“A man asked me for money yesterday. While I was waiting for the bus.”
Her lips pursed with irritation. “He was very aggressive, Barry. Very aggressive. I gave him a dollar and he kept asking. If the bus hadn’t come, I think he might have hit me over the head.”
I returned to the kitchen. Gramps was rinsing his cup, his back turned to me. “Listen,” I said, why don’t you just let me give her a ride. She seems pretty upset.”
“By a panhandler?”
“Yeah, I know—but it’s probably a little scary for her, seeing some big man block her way. It’s really no big deal.”
He turned around and I saw now that he was shaking. “It is a big deal. It’s a big deal to me. She’s been bothered by men before. You know why she’s so scared this time? I’ll tell you why. Before you came in, she told me this fella was black.” He whispered the word. “That’s the real reason why she’s so bothered. And I just don’t think that’s right.”
The words were like a fist to my stomach, and I wobbled to regain my composure.
A few pages later, Obama talks to an older black man, Frank, who explains things to him:
Frank opened his eyes. “What I’m trying to tell you is, your grandma’s right to be scared. She’s at least as right as Stanley is. She understands that black people have a reason to hate. That’s just how it is. For your sake, I wish it were otherwise. But it’s not. So you might as well get used to it.”
I can no more disown him [Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother.
If I’m reading Obama right, the author of the speech and the author of Dreams from my Father, it looks like Obama used his grandmother’s legitimate fears to try to whitewash Wright’s illegitimate conspiracy theories. And Obama must know (on some level) that his grandmother deserved better. This isn’t the audacity of hype; it is the mendacity of ambition.
If you think I’ve been harsh on Obama, I listened in stunned amazement when I heard a clip of Dr. K talking about his speech. From yesterday’s Brit Hume:
KRAUTHAMMER: The reaction was rubbish that we just saw. His speech was nothing more than less than apologia, an explaining away of Jeremiah Wright’s rants done with elegance, nuance, and complexity.
Essentially, it said that — if you look at his remarks, this is what Obama was saying — he explained it away in two ways — moral equivalence, and white racism.
The moral equivalence is on the one hand you have Jeremiah Wright, and on the other hand you have Geraldine Ferraro –
HUME: And his grandmother.
KRAUTHAMMER: — and grandma, who occasionally would utter a private, racist epithet, as if she had shouted these in a crowded church or a crowded theater as a way to arouse and envenom the audience as Wright did.
Obama is a guy who glories in his capacity for intellectual distinctions. There is a huge distinction between a woman of the generation of a Truman, who also uttered epithets about Jews and blacks in private, and the propagation of race hatred in a congregation on behalf of a pastor.
And the second element of that speech was extenuating, and explaining in a way as a reaction to white racism. He says, look, you have to put Wright in context, context is history, and the history he gave is a history of racism starting with slavery and ending at Jeremiah Wright and his anger and frustration.
This kind of extenuation is what you used to hear from Jesse Jackson, except in Obama’s case, dressed up in Ivy League language and Harvard Law School nuance. And that’s why the commentary that we saw on this was so rhapsodic. It touched two erogenous zones — white guilt and intellectual flattery. And that’s all it was. I think it was a brilliantly conceived failure.
It always makes me feel better about myself when I’m in concurrence with Krauthammer; I just wish I could express the thought so well.
Back in November 2006, Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko died of Polonium-210 poisoning. At the time, Charles Krauthammer summarized well what many of us thought:
Some say that the Litvinenko murder was so obvious, so bold, so messy — five airplanes contaminated, 30,000 people alerted, dozens of places in London radioactive — that it could not possibly have been the KGB.
But that’s the beauty of it. Do it obvious, do it brazen, and count on those too-clever-by-half Westerners to find that exonerating. As the president of the Central Anarchist Council (in G.K. Chesterton’s “The Man Who Was Thursday”) advised: “You want a safe disguise, do you? . . . A dress in which no one would ever look for a bomb? Why, then, dress up as an anarchist, you fool!”
The other reason for making it obvious and brazen is to send a message. This is a warning to all the future Litvinenkos of what awaits them if they continue to go after the Russian government. They’ll get you even in London, where there is the rule of law. And they’ll get you even if it makes negative headlines for a month.
Some people say that the KGB would not have gone to such great lengths to get so small a fry as Litvinenko. Well, he might have been a small fry, but his investigations were not. He was looking into the Kremlin roots of Politkovskaya’s shooting. And Litvinenko claimed that the Russian government itself blew up apartment buildings in Moscow and elsewhere in 1999, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, in order to blame it on the Chechens and provoke the second Chechen war. Pretty damning stuff.
But even Litvinenko’s personal smallness serves the KGB’s purposes precisely. If they go to such lengths and such messiness and such risk to kill someone as small as Litvinenko, then no critic of the Putin dictatorship is safe. It is the ultimate in deterrence.
Edward Jay Epstein, as noted here before, has been busy askinghardquestions to get to the truth. Mr. Epstein has a long piece in today’s New York Sun that explains that explains the connection between Polonium-210 and arms smuggling. As it turns out, lots of of places other than Russia can produce Polonium-210: America, Britain, China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Taiwan, North Korea. This means that the exotic murder weapon didn’t necessarily come from Russia. Litvinenko, Epstein argues, may have had ties to arms dealers. This makes him a bigger fish than we realized. It also means that someone other than the Russians may have had a motive to keep Litvinenko quiet.
Another peculiarity is that Britain has refused to release the autopsy report or medical records. Admittedly, this may be Britain’s way of preventing an inquiry into its perpetually struggling National Health Services. After detailing the many tangled strands that surrounds Litvenenko, Epstein his conclusion:
After considering all the evidence, my hypothesis is that Litvinenko came in contact with a polonium-210 smuggling operation and was, either wittingly or unwittingly, exposed to it. Litvinenko had been a person of interest to the intelligence services of many countries, including Britain’s MI-6, Russia’s FSB, America’s CIA (which rejected his offer to defect in 2000), and Italy’s SISMI, which was monitoring his phone conversations. His murky operations, whatever their purpose, involved his seeking contacts in one of the most lawless areas in the former Soviet Union, the Pankisi Gorge, which had become a center for arms smuggling. He had also dealt with people accused of everything from money laundering to trafficking in nuclear components. These activities may have brought him, or his associates, in contact with a sample of polonium-210, which then, either by accident or by design, contaminated and killed him.
To unlock the mystery, Britain must make available its secret evidence, including the autopsy report, the comprehensive list of places in which radiation was detected, and the surveillance reports of Litvinenko and his associates. If Britain considers it too sensitive for public release, it should be turned over to an international commission of inquiry. The stakes are too high here to leave unresolved the mystery of the smuggled polonium-210.
Dr. K. neatly sums up the misgivings that Apollo and I have over Obama.
There’s no better path to success than getting people to buy a free commodity. Like the genius who figured out how to get people to pay for water: Bottle it (Aquafina was revealed to be nothing more than reprocessed tap water) and charge more than they pay for gasoline. Or consider how Google found a way to sell dictionary nouns — boat, shoe, clock — by charging advertisers zillions to be listed whenever the word is searched.
And now, in the most amazing trick of all, a silver-tongued freshman senator has found a way to sell hope. To get it, you need only give him your vote. Barack Obama is getting millions.
This kind of sale is hardly new. Organized religion has been offering a similar commodity — salvation — for millennia. Which is why the Obama campaign has the feel of a religious revival with, as writer James Wolcott observed, a “salvational fervor” and “idealistic zeal divorced from any particular policy or cause and chariot-driven by pure euphoria.”
“We are the hope of the future,” sayeth Obama. We can “remake this world as it should be.” Believe in me and I shall redeem not just you but your country — nay, we can become “a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this world, and make this time different than all the rest.”
Obama has an astonishingly empty paper trail. He’s going around issuing promissory notes on the future that he can’t possibly redeem. Promises to heal the world with negotiations with the likes of Iran’s Ahmadinejad. Promises to transcend the conundrums of entitlement reform that require real and painful trade-offs and that have eluded solution for a generation. Promises to fund his other promises by a rapid withdrawal from an unpopular war — with the hope, I suppose, that the (presumed) resulting increase in American prestige would compensate for the chaos to follow.
A good piece that succicntly demostrates the problems with voting for “hope” – what happens when you elect someone on “hope” and find out that theres nothing backing it up?
Perhaps the thing I find most bewildering about the Obama fad is the belief of some that “uniting” the country (whatever that means) is more important than good policy and wise leadership. Moreover, how Obama could “unite” the country was never addressed. The only way I can think of this working out is to shame a sufficient number of whites into supporting Obama simply because he’s black. Thankfully, it appears that may not yet happen.
In attacking Obama, Dr. K. discusses this overwrought yearning for unity by using one of my favorite memes (blame everything on the Baby Boomers):
Or that Obama’s media acolytes wax poetic that his soaring rhetoric and personal biography will abolish the ideological divide of the 1960s — as if the division between left and right, between free markets and the welfare state, between unilateralism and internationalism, between social libertarianism and moral traditionalism are residues of Sergeant Pepper and the March on Washington. The baby boomers in their endless solipsism now think they invented left and right — the post-Enlightenment contest of ideologies that dates back to the seating arrangements of the Estates-General in 1789.
He should have pointed out that the Boomers in question are those who are now in control of the media; they embody the very worst aspects of that worst generation. All in all, I think Krauthammer’s right that we should be thankful for Hillary’s New Hampshire primary. The Obama messianism was getting, frankly, frightening.