Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Pat Buchanan on Obama’s Big Speech

Well, he agrees with the other Pat [Deneen] that it’s basically "neo-Reaganite." There’s something to the observation that "mythologizing" Khe Sanh is a sign that the president doesn’t regard Vietnam as a "racist" war, but as a noble effort for which we should be proud--in some ways, at least, a better part of our history. But Pat’s conclusion that Obama shares his view that we’re overextended and need to retreat some from empire isn’t really so Reaganite.

Discussions - 3 Comments

I think Buchanan is reading Obama wrong as regards to the Vietnam War. Obama was not speaking of the justness or prudence of the war itself, but of the motivations and actions of the American troops. In context Obama referred to the men at Khe Sanh as fighting for us.


His reference to Khe Sanh could be seen through his views of the Iraq War. Obama praises the American troops in Iraq to the skies. He also opposed the war itself and then the surge. If you asked him if he thought the troops in Iraq were "fighting for us", he would probably say yes. If you asked him if the Iraq War were a noble effort or one of the better parts of our history, he would probably say no.

This is another part of Obama's effort to correct for the past rhetorical mistakes of the American Left. Most Americans might be convinced that a particular war was a bad idea, but to argue that the war was the caused by some innate American flaw like racism (or imperialism or capitalism) is to suggest to the majority that you are too amivalent about the US to be trusted with the job of Commander-in-Chief. Being ambivalent about the moral qualities of the American troops themselves is of course political suicide for someone who seeks votes outside of the far, far, Left.

This might also be part of Obama's general strategy of trying to bring the Baby Boomer era culture wars to some kind of closure. The generation of Vietnam veterans are part of the same noble line of American military defenders in their own personal heroism and willingness to serve. On that maybe we can reach a national peace as regards to Vietnam (and maybe someday soon on the Iraq War). We are of course not going back to Vietnam and Obama in the same speech made no commitment to American victory in Iraq. He is a shrewd fellow

"(O)ur power alone," said Obama, "cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please." Rather, "our power grows through its prudent use." While a repudiation of neoconservatism, these ideas are fully consistent with the traditional conservatism of the Founding Fathers.

There is that word again. Prudence or Pragmatism: Americas contribution to philosophy if I remember correctly. Is pragmatism really a philosophy though, or a simple methodology. How can you have a pragmatic system, this assumes that people can overcome their own beliefs when making descisions. I don't buy that. You can imagine youself in someone else position but you cant actually know what walking in their shoes is like. Even a pragmatic or prudent solution to a problem is largely about the particual ideology that one belives in. Pragmatism is about justifying things in a way that make them sound non political.

This was a great peice of revision though. I thought Buchanan was the one who called himself a classical liberal. The founders were liberal not Burkeian conservatives. The American founding can't be a conservative thing because it was radical for its time and about liberty not maintaining 'conservative' values. What would be a conservative revolution? does the definition of both terms not make this an impossibility?

What would be a conservative revolution?

What, you've never read Kirk? To sum up, it was a conservative revolution because it was done in the service of protecting the traditional liberties of the colonists as Englishmen.

By way of analogy, a revolution today amed at restoring our traditional liberties as Americans (remember those?) would be a conservative revolution.

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