I was going to write about this last week, when it was still hot in the news. Then, lo and behold, I got side-tracked by an "actual letter." As an update, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has apologized to the team and will abide by the NFL's suspension of six games for his violation of league conduct policies. In that same statement he also denied breaking any law.
What I would like to do right now is deflate the Sarah Palin balloon. It is time for the general population to turn down the cable scream-fest and agree, in a moment of lucidity, that Alaska's ex-governor has a public profile that amounts to nothing more than a national hallucination, a mirage. Governor Palin is fluff and bluff with no stuff--in short, this empress is wearing designer clothes.
Demonstrating the statesmanship of a leapord seal in a penguin colony (opposite pole, for those of you keeping track) last week Sarah Palin criticized Obama's statements regarding America's status as a world power. Obama, forced to dissemble to his liberal base because they had assumed--quite wrongly--that Obama was a dove-like peacenik flower-child, made the following statement regarding the imperial obligations of the United States on the world stage:
"It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them," Obama said. "And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure." (Find the full story at: http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/04/palin-criticizes-obama-at-illinois-event.html)
This statement reflects the posture of American presidents since FDR, and this posture merits some reflection. What are our obligations as a dominant military power? Why is it in our interests to continue to be a dominant military power? Might there be a more productive way to promote American interests on the world stage? If once being the arsenal of freedom might have justified Reagan's projections of military might, what has our mission evolved into today? As allies to Israel and targets of jihadist terror, are we now the tank of foreign oil consumption and is that enough to justify our methods of engagement?
This is how conservatives, once upon a time, might have engaged Obama's statements. However, in the story linked above, ex-governor turned Fox News Pretty Face Sarah Palin barked this in reply:
"I would hope that our leaders in Washington, D.C., understand we like to be a dominant superpower," the former Alaska governor said. "I don't understand a world view where we have to question whether we like it or not that America is powerful."
Yeesh. Now then, my web-addicted conservative friends, which statement sounds more like Hitler? Which statement sounds more like restraint? Which statement is more statesmanlike?
Sarah Palin has no business advocating for less government and tea party tax rebellions if she "wants" America to "be a dominant superpower." To "not like it" now, in her definitions, becomes unpatriotic. To like being a superpower drawn into regional conflicts around the globe, has become, apparently, the "New Tea Party."
President Obama has proven to be skilled at deflection and dissembling, bringing rhetorical subtlety to his compromises while ignoring one campaign promise after another, all the while choosing easy fights to win on the side. This does not make him the next Hitler or Caesar. He is behaving rather like the President of the United States, who is forced to measure responses to those challenging American security and interests.
Frankly, many patriotic Americans see the projection of dominance as precisely that which makes us more vulnerable and diminishes our security. The patriots at our founding were engaged with a dominant super power, and prevailed precisely because Great Britain had to count the cost in blood when other interests were more vital to its empire. Resources saved by withdrawal from the 13 colonies could be diverted to India, for example. The United States has similarly set itself up to lose wars all over the globe and bleed ourselves dry from a hundred small wounds.
Obama and the liberal base are not interested in impoverishing the United States. Remember, the liberal base is drawn from two groups: First, rich white people. Trust me, they do not want to become poor or have to grovel to the Chinese. Rich white liberal Americans are some of the most bigoted elitists in the world. The second group are unionized workers. These folks are gung ho. They don't trust big money capitalism and they say things about utility companies and hospitals and so on, "they get you comin' and goin'" and use words like "blood-suckers" for collection agents. However, these folks are all into the flag and the fourth of July and they have sons and daughters serving in the line of fire right now.
Rich white liberals and unionized workers see other paths than war toward peace and prosperity. They want to see their hope from 2008 show results. The blue collar folks want jobs again and their kids to come home alive. Meanwhile, as the President in these times, Obama is caught in the traps of our commitments and has to balance many competing interests: Those of allies, those of an over-extended all-volunteer military service, those of other emerging powers suspicious of our intentions, and those of a media-addicted voting public including that liberal base.
So he addresses these issues with subtlety and statesmanship, at risk of pleasing no one but at the same time setting the tone for everyone. Like it or not, America is the super-power and we get drawn in to disputes around the world. Thus it is in our interests to contain conflict.
For Palin, however, such issues clearly do not merit reflection. And, conservatives, please pay attention, her statements about liking our dominance ought to scare people who love America. She has no business taking the reins of American power when she clearly does not understand it or its obligations.
I don't know if George Will has taken his fly-swatter to this buzz around Palin, but I hope he does soon. The Palin political machine needs to be squashed.