July 6, 2008

Minor fisking...feel free to skip...

It's silly of me to waste time fisking a Boston Globe editorial, but it's my equivalent of watching mindless TV shows when too tired to do anything constructive. This one's from a week ago, which makes it doubly absurd, since Obam's flip-flops have already made it obsolete...

FEW AMERICANS, whatever their political persuasion, will mourn George W. Bush's departure from office. [Me will. And I bet lots of others, once they get a load of whoever comes next.] Democrats and Republicans alike are counting the days until the inauguration of a new president will wipe the slate clean.

Yet in crucial respects, the Bush era will not end Jan. 20, 2009. The administration's many failures, especially those related to Iraq, [where we are trouncing al-Qaeda, ha ha!] mask a considerable legacy. Among other things, the Bush team has accomplished the following:

  • Defined the contemporary era as an "age of terror" with an open-ended "global war" as the necessary, indeed the only logical, response; [It is the logical response.]
  • Promulgated and implemented a doctrine of preventive war, thereby creating a far more permissive rationale for employing armed force; [It's about time! It was appeasement and reluctance to squash terrorists that got us INTO this war.]
  • Affirmed - despite the catastrophe of Sept. 11, 2001 - that the primary role of the Department of Defense is not defense, but power projection; [Neither—the job is to fight such wars as we happen to get into. In fact we should go back to the old name: Dept. of War.]
  • Removed constraints on military spending so that once more, as Ronald Reagan used to declare, "defense is not a budget item"; [Actually, as a % of GDP our defense budget is much lower than Reagan's. But defeating the Evil Empire was a bigger job than chasing rag-head banditti.]
  • Enhanced the prerogatives of the imperial presidency on all matters pertaining to national security, effectively eviscerating the system of checks and balances; [Well, Congress keeps giving Bush what he asks for...is that what you mean?]
  • Preserved and even expanded the national security state, despite the manifest shortcomings of institutions such as the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff; [So you advocate abolishing them? I could get behind that idea.]
  • Preempted any inclination to question the wisdom of the post-Cold War foreign policy consensus, founded on expectations of a sole superpower exercising "global leadership"; [Does this sentence even make sense? I'm sure it adds up to Europe-Good America-Bad, but how to parse it I don't know.]
  • Completed the shift of US strategic priorities away from Europe and toward the Greater Middle East, the defense of Israel having now supplanted the defense of Berlin as the cause to which presidents and would-be presidents ritually declare their fealty. [Defending Berlin? From what? ]

By almost any measure, this constitutes a record of substantial, if almost entirely malignant, achievement.

Bush's harshest critics, left liberals as well as traditional conservatives, have repeatedly called attention to this record. That criticism has yet to garner mainstream political traction. [Maybe 'cause he's just doing what the situation obviously demands] Throughout the long primary season, even as various contenders in both parties argued endlessly about Iraq, they seemed oblivious to the more fundamental questions raised by the Bush years: whether global war makes sense as an antidote to terror, [it does] whether preventive war works, [it does] whether the costs of "global leadership" are sustainable, [easily] and whether events in Asia rather than the Middle East just might determine the course of the 21st century. [Too late, pal. They are already on the Globalization train. They will be assimilated.]

Now only two candidates remain standing. Senators John McCain and Barack Obama both insist that the presidential contest will mark a historic turning point. Yet, absent a willingness to assess in full all that Bush has wrought, the general election won't signify a real break from the past. [You poor booby. Bush has set the template for a generation to come. It won't matter who's president, you'll still be stuck with him, just like the Brits are tuck with Thatcher. And the template is rejection of nihilism. That means rejection of YOU. The USA is rejecting you.]

The burden of identifying and confronting the Bush legacy necessarily falls on Obama. Although for tactical reasons McCain will distance himself from the president's record, he largely subscribes to the principles informing Bush's post-9/11 policies. McCain's determination to stay the course in Iraq expresses his commitment not simply to the ongoing conflict there, but to the ideas that gave rise to that war in the first place. While McCain may differ with the president on certain particulars, his election will affirm the main thrust of Bush's approach to national security. [And he WILL be elected. And you appeasers will be rejected.]

The challenge facing Obama is clear: he must go beyond merely pointing out the folly of the Iraq war; he must demonstrate that Iraq represents the truest manifestation of an approach to national security that is fundamentally flawed, thereby helping Americans discern the correct lessons of that misbegotten conflict. [it's hilarious to fisk this thing a week late, with Obama now slithering towards the Bush center with such alacrity!]

By showing that Bush has put the country on a path pointing to permanent war, ever increasing debt and dependency, and further abuses of executive authority, Obama can transform the election into a referendum on the current administration's entire national security legacy. [Legacy = victory.] By articulating a set of principles that will safeguard the country's vital interests, both today and in the long run, at a price we can afford [We SO poor.....you wish.] while preserving rather than distorting the Constitution, [You should research what Lincoln Wilson and FDR did in their wars! Bush ain't in it.] Obama can persuade Americans to repudiate the Bush legacy and to choose another course. [which would be.....LOSING! Yeah, Run on it, Barack baby!]

This is a stiff test, not the work of a speech or two, but of an entire campaign. Whether or not Obama passes the test will determine his fitness for the presidency. [Well, looks like he's not fit.]

Posted by John Weidner at July 6, 2008 8:49 PM
Weblog by John Weidner