23 June 2009

Two Assessments of Obama

One is from the New Republic's The Plank, and the other is from the National Review Online. I don't think it's too hard to guess which way each one spins.

Let's start with the Plank piece first. It's a brief bit about Obama's style, and I think the often-clever Jonathan Chait is especially insightful in it.
This is a perfect summation of Obama's strategy. It does not presuppose that his adversaries are people of goodwill who can be reasoned with. Rather, it assumes that, by demonstrating his own goodwill and interest in accord, Obama can win over a portion of his adversaries' constituents as well as third parties. Obama thinks he can move moderate Muslim opinion, pressure bad actors like Iran to negotiate, and, if Iran fails to comply, encourage other countries to isolate it. The strategy works whether or not Iran makes a reasonable agreement.

The results remain to be seen. But it eerily resembles the way Obama has already isolated the GOP leadership. Obama began his presidency by elaborately courting the opposition party. Republicans in Congress believed that, by flamboyantly withholding cooperation, they could deny Obama his stated goal of bipartisan harmony and thus render him a failure. Instead, they wound up handing Obama the alternative victory of appearing to be the reasonable party. Polls showed that the public, by overwhelming margins, believed that Obama was trying to work with Republicans and that Republicans were not reciprocating.
While I think Obama is far too moderate on a hell of a lot of issues, I have often and forcefully said that his personal skill is unparalleled at this time. And in a case like Iran, where I can be confident his goals coincide with my own, I believe Obama will play the situation perfectly. In other words, I think it is seldom wise to question Obama's ability, no matter what you think of his ideals. Republicans who think otherwise should ask themselves why exactly he has been drubbing them at every turn.

Thomas Sowell from NRO, on the other hand, has a considerably more acid contribution:
The current intramural fighting among Republicans does not necessarily mean any fundamental rethinking of their policies or tactics. These tussles among different segments of the Republican party may be nothing more than a longstanding jockeying for position between the liberal and conservative wings of the party.

The stakes in all this are far higher than which element becomes dominant in which party or which party wins more elections. Both the domestic- and foreign-policy direction of the current administration in Washington are leading this country into dangerous waters, from which we may or may not be able to return.
He then starts in on some things he thinks Obama has done, and that he thinks are absolutely shameful.
A quadrupling of the national debt in just one year and accepting a nuclear-armed sponsor of international terrorism such as Iran are not things from which any country is guaranteed to recover.

Just two nuclear bombs were enough to get Japan to surrender in World War II. It is hard to believe that it would take much more than that for the United States of America to surrender — especially with people in control of both the White House and the Congress who were for turning tail and running in Iraq just a couple of years ago.

Perhaps people who are busy gushing over the Obama cult today might do well to stop and think about what it would mean for their granddaughters to live under sharia law.
That's right: the National Review is suggesting that Iran is going to nuke the United States, and that the Obama administration will immediately submit. Then Iran will invade us and impose Sharia law.

Let's just consider this for a moment. A mature and presumably reasonable person who works at a respected national magazine is seriously making the suggestion that this is a danger, and that Iran can't be "accepted" as a nuclear power. He doesn't really offer any alternative, of course, because it must be unspoken that there aren't a whole lot of things one can do about it short of war, as North Korea has amply demonstrated over and over ("Yeah, we're nuclear now. Oh, you don't like it? Yeah, that's tough. Screw off, UN.") All you can do is work to remove supplies of raw materials and technology (which no doubt and thankfully Obama is doing behind the scenes, no matter his rhetoric) and use diplomacy.

Then comes the acorn:
Unfortunately, the only political party with any chance of displacing the current leadership in Washington is the Republican party. That is why their internal squabbles are important for the rest of us who are not Republicans.
Ah! So that's why he was frightening us with an absurd "think of the children" scenario: you have to vote Republican so they can save us! He doesn't even argue in the piece for why they have good policies or anything like that... it's simply and irrationally, "If you don't vote Republican in the future you will be nuked."

Absolutely brazen and shameless scaremongering.

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