Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Obama’s announcement

Here’s the speech, more Clintonesque (post-baby boomer edition) than Lincolnesque, more about the future to be build by BO’s generation than about the burden of obligations to and from the past. Above all, Obama reminds me of the early Bill Clinton, whose rhetoric was always too good to be true. Like Clinton also, he’s posing as the voice of a new generation, in this case consigning the baby-boomers (including, presumably, HRC) to the bad old past.

There are many things with which to quibble. What, for example, happens in Iraq when our troops are brought home by March, 2008 (!!!)? And are we really going to have "universal health care in America by the end of the next president’s first term"? At what cost? And while we’re at it, let’s end poverty in America. No sense of Christian humility or of human limits here.

Finally, there’s this:

I was proud to help lead the fight in Congress that led to the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate.

For the moment, I note only the headline of this NYT story: "Congress Finds Ways to Avoid Lobbyist Limits." I assume, of course, that Obama has no intention of accepting either public funding or spending limits in his campaign.

Discussions - 14 Comments

His attempts to sound Lincolnesque fall flat, flat, flat. Boilerplate language here, there, and everywhere. Uninspiring precisely because the newness he calls for do not stand in much contrast to the things that look pretty good for America at present. And closing the speech by repeating Lincoln’s Gettysburg call for "a new birth of freedom" was a non sequitor. I mean, what slavery does he think Americans need to liberate themselves from right now? I can see Lincoln making that exhortation in the year of Jubilee, with the Emancipation Proclamation behind him. He should stick to writing books, and consider his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention the climax of his political career.

Obamessiah is a man who has been steeped in liberalism his whole life, and one who has chosen a political career. Both of these facts, and especially these facts in combination, bode ill for real thought. And it won’t get any better.

It’s amusing to read about "Christian humility" and "human limits" from people who supported, and continue to support, the invasion and occupation of Iraq -- perhaps the most hubristic policy in American history.


Nice wisecrack. Yes, I supported (and still support) the war. Initially, I thought of it as a calculated attempt to begin to change the political culture of the Middle East, without which the terrorists would just keep on coming. I realized that our leverage was limited, the risks were high, and the forces favoring some version of the status quo were quite formidable (albeit not in a traditional military sense). But I wasn’t sure there was any good alternative. Containment likely wouldn’t work with non-state actors, who have no territory to defend and don’t mind casualties.

But that was then. Now, I don’t see how withdrawal without some sort of pro-American stability in Iraq is anything other than a disaster for the Iraqi people, for the wider Middle East, and or America. So yes, I continue to support the Bush Administration, and always have, so as to avoid the "summum malum" of emboldened suicidal jihadism.

I don’t think that this amounts to a utopian wish to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

I certainly agree, and I don’t think the political culture change experiment has yet been lost--perhaps not even here at home, since even Barack the Banal (as Roger L. Simon calls him) dares not suggest withdrawal until next year at the earliest. I can imagine him winning the nomination. Kerry, after all. But can’t imagine him winning the presidency.

Free health care, free college, free broadband, free raises, good homes to all stray puppies and a good ’52 Merlot shall flow from all public water fountains.

"We have to make hard choices." He’s never made a hard choice in his life.

"A new birth of freedom on Earth!" Except for Iraq. And babies--they get partial-birth.

He thinks he’s Lincoln--but he’s Grant; Unconditional Surrender Barack.

"Now, I don’t see how withdrawal without some sort of pro-American stability in Iraq is anything other than a disaster for the Iraqi people..."

And the fact that poll after poll of Iraqis shows that the Iraqis want us to leave, what of that? What if, at this point, the majority of Iraqis aren’t feeling very pro-American? This all sounds extremely paternalistic. Perhaps you’d really just prefer a pro-American dictator in Iraq?

"So yes, I continue to support the Bush Administration, and always have, so as to avoid the "summum malum" of emboldened suicidal jihadism."

And the National Intelligence Estimate that said that the war itself is energizing would-be terrorists and increasing the likelihood that jihadists will make further attacks, what of that?

Heh. They want us to leave. Just not right now. In any case, we’re doing it for us, not for them. This is our strategic move. If it helps them in the long run that’s gravy. As for energizing the enemy, the only way not to is to do nothing. Even that’s no guarantee.


There is no plausible scenario in which Iraq is left with "pro-American stability." (Just wondering: Does this mean pro-Israeli stability, too?)

You say you worry about an "emboldened suicidal jihadism." Me, too. The trouble is that the Bush administration’s policies have already guaranteed this very outcome. The only question remaining is whether we admit we’ve "lost" now or wait for a few thousand more troops to die first.

By the way, I place "lost" in quote marks to undermine the absurdity of continuing to speak in terms of "winning" in Iraq. What, after all, would constitute "winning"? When the pro-Iranian, tribal, theocratic Shiites crush the Sunnis and set up an oil-rich colony of Tehran? Or when the Sunnis succeed in sparking an all-out bloodbath throughout the country and allow al Qaeda to establish terrorist training camps throughout Anbar province? Or when a new Sunni strongman emerges to crush the Shiites and then sets up a new dictatorship to return us to something akin to Saddam’s rule? Or will these groups miraculously be persuaded to form an Aristotelian polity because David Petraeus and his Tocquevillean wise man Doug Ollivant are now in charge?

Bush has been a truly awful president whose primary legacy is going to be a catastrophic weakening of American power in the world. For those commited to the broader war against militant Islam, he has been a disaster.

Damon and Jim,

What good would be produced by a relatively hasty (say, by March, 2008, as Obama has suggested) U.S. withdrawal from Iraq? Would any of the scenarios sketched by Damon be any less likely? Would the jihadis who attacked us in 2001 be any less likely to try a repeat?

I don’t think that either the Iranians or the Wahhabi jihadis can be allowed to succeed in Iraq. Essentially unconditional withdrawal, either before or after the 2008 election, would be likely to produce one or the other result. I know that Democrats would blame the resulting unpleasantness on the Bush Administration, but it seems to me that, having called for a policy that produced that entirely predictable result, they’d bear the responsibility. So as long as there’s the possibility of avoiding it, we have to stay put.

Joe, Come on, you gotta get with the program. Damon and Jim want the US to depart Iraq so we can send troops to Darfur (or some similar exercise), because the policy they favor is to send troops where the US has no national security interest. Only in that manner can the US be innocent of charges of jingoism and imperialism. Purity of thought and action.

Hey now, evading my questions by asking unrelated questions isn’t very helpful. If you ANSWER my questions, I will address yours.

Also, is it just a coincidence that you’re referring to Obama as "BO" - the same cheap joke employed by that awful new FoxNews "comedy" show? Yes, his initials are the same as those used to refer to "body odor"! Hilarious.


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