01 March 2008

Or AM I conservative?

When I was installing the Dragon NaturallySpeaking software that allows me to post more often without wearing out my fingers, I was instructed to read one of several passages in order that the computer software might get used to my voice. I chose to read a brief speech which included this passage:
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge—and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do—for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
Compare these words to the musings of Senator Obama. As I have noted before, and as documented here, Senator Obama believes that we should withdraw from Iraq regardless of any potential human tragedy. This week he said that in the event the Al Qaeda establishes a base in Iraq after our departure, he is prepared to go back in to Iraq.

(Isn't that just like a "progressive"? Don't bother preventing a problem; just be prepared to spend oodles of taxpayer dollars to deal with a preventable problem after it occurs.)

Now how do we square the words of President Kennedy, quoted above, with the amoral, us-first-and-only-us attitude evidenced by Mr. Obama? And Kennedy was a liberal, right? So how far off to the left does that put Mr. Obama?

As further evidence of the old adage that politics makes strange bedfellows, I find myself this week in agreement with Angelina Jolie, of all people. I have previously commented that her selection as humanitarian of the year by the United Nations is evidence of just how out of touch with their home nations many UN staffers are. But this time Ms. Jolie seems to have more moral compassion, and the willingness to pay the price to demonstrate that compassion, than the Democratic "progressives."

The Iraqi families I've met on my trips to the region are proud and resilient. They don't want anything from us other than the chance to return to their homes -- or, where those homes have been bombed to the ground or occupied by squatters, to build new ones and get back to their lives. One thing is certain: It will be quite a while before Iraq is ready to absorb more than 4 million refugees and displaced people. But it is not too early to start working on solutions. And last week, there were signs of progress.

In Baghdad, I spoke with Army Gen. David Petraeus about UNHCR's need for security information and protection for its staff as they re-enter Iraq, and I am pleased that he has offered that support. General Petraeus also told me he would support new efforts to address the humanitarian crisis "to the maximum extent possible" -- which leaves me hopeful that more progress can be made.

UNHCR is certainly committed ... to increase UNHCR's presence there and to work closely with the Iraqi government, both in assessing the conditions required for return and in providing humanitarian relief...

My visit left me even more deeply convinced that we not only have a moral obligation to help displaced Iraqi families, but also a serious, long-term, national security interest in ending this crisis.

Today's humanitarian crisis in Iraq -- and the potential consequences for our national security -- are great. Can the United States afford to gamble that 4 million or more poor and displaced people, in the heart of Middle East, won't explode in violent desperation, sending the whole region into further disorder?

What we cannot afford, in my view, is to squander the progress that has been made. In fact, we should step up our financial and material assistance. UNHCR has appealed for $261 million this year to provide for refugees and internally displaced persons. That is not a small amount of money -- but it is less than the U.S. spends each day to fight the war in Iraq. I would like to call on each of the presidential candidates and congressional leaders to announce a comprehensive refugee plan with a specific timeline and budget as part of their Iraq strategy.

As for the question of whether the surge is working, I can only state what I witnessed: U.N. staff and those of non-governmental organizations seem to feel they have the right set of circumstances to attempt to scale up their programs. And when I asked the troops if they wanted to go home as soon as possible, they said that they miss home but feel invested in Iraq. They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible.

It seems to me that now is the moment to address the humanitarian side of this situation. Without the right support, we could miss an opportunity to do some of the good we always stated we intended to do.

I continue to believe that Barack Obama is the new George McGovern. He is an antiwar isolationist, with a radical socialist agenda wherein government can and must solve all the problems within this country, but must completely avoid trying to do anything outside of this country.

In his isolationism, Obama has more in common with Pat Buchanan than with most Americans. And in his secular progressive socialism, Obama is in the same camp as Ralph Nader, even if he is funded by the corporate interests Nader despises.

Four major areas of concern are yet to come back to bite Obama, but I confidently predict that they will.

The first is that he pledged to take federal funds and limit his campaign spending. Now that he is the nearly-presumptive nominee and has demonstrated all kinds of abilities to raise funds, he is hedging that bet, saying that he will only keep that pledge if he can renegotiate it with McCain to include organizations over which neither of them actually have any control ... if they're following the law, that is. This is causing consternation with Obama among the campaign reform minded left and center. And those folks are all or nothing. If they become disillusioned with Obama, he loses a major portion of his primary base.

The second is his almost completely unvetted record. Mark Penn of the Clinton campaign put it this way:
“He [Obama] regularly goes out there and says he’s the person who can beat John McCain,” said Mark Penn, Mrs. Clinton’s chief strategist. “But the truth is, if he is ever in a general election, a lot of positions he took in 2003 and 2004 will come back to haunt him in a big way and a lot of the vetting that didn’t happen will happen. The independent and Republican support that he has had will evaporate really quickly.”
The third is that he has said nothing of substance yet, except to attack NAFTA and the status quo. It is very easy to talk about "change" and "hope" and draw large crowds in the primary. When you are facing a true ideological opponent in the general election, and you have to start putting actual programs and policies on the table, and most Americans start to realize how far to the left Obama is on the basis of those proposals.

(I recently heard a quote from a prominent journalist analyzing JFK's style in 1960. I cannot find the quote, but the gist of it was this: Kennedy uses his charm, wit and intelligence to deflect questions, and that it is not until after a press conference is over that a reporter looks at his notes and realizes no question was answered, no specifics given.

(The commentator quoting this was saying that Barack Obama has a similar skill, and that it would serve him well in the general election. I disagree. I will not quote Lloyd Bentsen, but I will note that as a war hero, Kennedy had impeccable national security credentials. Also, and more importantly, this is 2008 and not 1960. The press is more skeptical, and there are a lot more of them. Likewise, though he has correctly railed against baby boomers and their preoccupation with 40-year-old conflicts, Obama has to face this most skeptical generation in history in the general election. I frankly do not think that absent his PT 109 experience, that John Kennedy was electable, then or now.)

Finally, I believe that Americans have a long and bitter memory of Vietnam and its aftermath. Obama's willingness to cut and run (and thereby completely screw our allies in Iraq) will show up as a real thorn in the sides of the so-called Reagan Democrats: working people, including union members, who might otherwise support him. For all the talk of the youth vote, people need to remember that Baby Boomers outnumber every other generation. And for every baby boomer who opposes the war, there is at least one, and maybe two or three, with bitter memories about our defeat in Vietnam and its aftermath.

No comments: