Sunday, January 22, 2012

Contra 2/2

I think I’m starting to get the GOP argument. See, Obama just outmaneuvered everyone, and that has to be unfair somehow. It is a rare instance in politics where everyone wins. And surely not everyone can win. At least, I think that might be the GOP rationale. Obama just used effective economic policies to create a situation where everyone at the table got an advantage. Perhaps except the Republicans who have little, if anything, to really (as in genuinely) be mad about.

So let’s go to foreign policy a little. In Libya, Obama’s policies have garnered him widespread support in the country because the revolutionaries insisted on support but not military occupation. The US let France take the lead, and they are happy with us because they got to use their coordinating chops. And we still provided the big firepower and didn’t lose American lives. Cheaper than Iraq, more effective at regime change, and it yielded worldwide respect.

Sometimes there is a need to use a blunt hammer as the tool. But if that’s the only tool in your tool kit then everything starts to look like a nail.

We got Osama bin Laden. And we did it by pseudo-invading an ally’s territory. But we didn’t say sorry about that. And the notoriously unstable Pakistan got all butt-hurt and is now dealing with the potential collapse of (another one of) its civilian governments. But this time it looks like the civilian government is standing up to the military in a radically different way; one which could pry loose their semi-fundamentalist Taliban sympathizing grip on the nation.

We removed troops from Iraq. He ended the highly unpopular war and did so in the timeline that he set out. This is such an unpopular issue as to be a moot point. Who cares what the result was at this point; it definitely hurt our ability to successfully negotiate any foreign policy with even our allies. Even Iran has been more amiable since our exit—despite its saber-rattling.

There was no apologizing here, by the way. The Obama administration has put steady pressure on Iran, tightening sanctions and unilaterally (as well as multi-laterally) taking actions in the United States’ national security interests.

Again, I’m just not sure what the Republican rhetoric is saying and I’d love to figure it out. Obama has not shown himself to be shy to take action, use the free market to his advantage, strike a balanced partnership between government and his agencies, decrease the governmental footprint, and lower taxes for the vast majority of Americans.

He has been the captain in a terrible storm that was brewing for some time before he took office. He has largely steered this nation through it with a consistent moral fiber and strength of leadership that has been far from perfect but certainly well-played.

The issue, more or less, is that there are plenty of things to attack Obama on. He is not perfect nor is he ‘conservative’ by any means. The big problem is that the Republican candidates—and Obama’s detractors as a whole—insist on trying to contradict him at every turn.

Frankly they look like whiny babies. Nothing he does is right, even when it’s what they wanted. If the GOP wants to put up a campaign that really has the stuff to take down such a calculated man then they have to concede that sometimes politicians—regardless of party affiliation—really do care about their constituency and can actually accomplish good things. Obama is an American and devoted to trying to keep this nation great. Sometimes there are disagreements about what policies are sufficient or if the tact was correct. There is nuance in everything.

The thing is that the party of Reagan is now unrecognizable as such; it is obviously struggling with its identity; searching for its soul and defining its image based off the utopian dream that Obama is not accomplishing somehow.

Just a few things that strike me. Newt Gingrich getting mad at John King for asking a bit about accusations from his former wife regarding his desire for an ‘open marriage’. Gingrich shot at King saying that no one had any business in his personal affairs, calling it part of his private life (and implicit in that assumption the right to privacy).

So there are two things here. First, Newt has railed against the right to privacy as established in the Griswold v. Connecticut. The decision basically asserted that there are implicit rights to privacy even though the constitution does not explicitly lay those out (a combination of the 4th and 10th amendments). He (along with other candidates) has called it a prime example of activist judges at work trying to create law without having the authority to do so.

Second, Newt was one of the most vocal critics of President Clinton’s illicit affair (glass house and stones anyone?) and called for his ouster because his moral failures had clearly invalidated him as a leader of this country.

Finally--because this is far too long--I would like to point out the small government mantra that we keep hearing. Under the last three Republican presidents (Reagan, Bush, and W Bush) the government has drastically expanded its scope of powers, its ability to directly monitor and detain citizens without due process, and has even raised taxes a bunch.

The party of Reagan is not a mantra; there were many nuanced philosophies of government and they were subject to the realities of a limited executive (even though the last five presidents have expanded that office drastically). If the candidates truly believed in powerful states and a small government I would expect their advocacy to sound a lot more like the Articles of Confederation--and that worked so well before.

I hate to end my argument on a political-historical joke (it makes me sound like an ivory tower liberal) but I grow tired of being confused and pose only a final plea to the GOP candidates. Please get it together, because I can’t waste time analyzing every tree you see as out of place--there is a forest out there and seeing it will help you all cut down your contradictions.