I had an interesting exchange recently with someone who wanted to understand why I was not as taken by the Obama juggernaut as a lot of people are. She feels, to her credit I think, that if we don’t understand one another’s viewpoints better then the whole democratic experiment here is headed somewhere we don’t want it to head . . .
I wonder whether it’s truly more rancorous than it was 20 years ago or whether we are just prone to forget the rancor. I do recall when Reagan died that a lot of commentators pointed out how some of the Democrats who remembered him so kindly had excoriated him when he was President. If our next Administration does not foul up the seedlings of democracy that have been planted in the Middle East then I believe that in 20 or 30 years Bush will be credited with ending Islamic terrorism in the same way that Reagan is credited by most thinkers today as having brought about the end of Communism.
Which gets to one of the core reasons why I could never cast a ballot for Obama. I believe very strongly in American exceptionalism. That is, I don’t just think America is a really neat place. I think it’s a beacon of hope to billions around the world and an incredibly successful experiment in what true freedom looks like. As such, we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to support freedom and democracy elsewhere.
I think plenty of Obama’s actions would lead one to conclude that he does not share this same view of America, from his political associations with William Ayers to the 20 years he spent in the pews of a “spiritual mentor” who, it’s got to be clear even to Obama supporters, hates America and hates white people (that is, Wright does, not that Obama does). I conclude that Obama views America as a deeply flawed place, one that owes an apology to the rest of the world for all the wrongs we’ve done. I not only believe this is a deeply wrongheaded view, but also one that bodes poorly for the longest-burning beacon of freedom in the world.
Israel, for example, is the one true democracy in the Middle East. As such, and because of the historical wrongs perpetrated against her people, America has been a stalwart friend to her. Iran, on the other hand, has vowed to actively seek Israel’s destruction. It’s leader, who’s called Israel a “stinking corpse”, is actively pursuing nuclear weapons. Barack Obama has vowed, on multiple occasions to meet with this dictator, as well as those of Syria, North Korea, etc. To bestow upon them the honor and prestige of a face-to-face meeting with the President of the United States, without requiring any precondition in advance.
Obama has since perhaps recognized the foolishness of this plan, but rather than change his mind or acknowledge that he was wrong, both of which would reveal how inexperienced and naive he is, he just denies it. I know a lot of his supporters might not have seen the original debate (I watched it live) so there’s a very good video compilation here which juxtaposes Obama calling McCain a liar for claiming Obama would meet with these dictators and Obama uttering exactly what McCain claims he said. It’s 3 minutes of video and it’s really worth watching.
Here’s what Jesse Jackson was saying last week to the World Policy Forum in France:
The most important change would occur in the Middle East, where “decades of putting Israel’s interests first” would end.
Jackson believes that, although “Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades” remain strong, they’ll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House.
“Obama is about change,” Jackson told me in a wide-ranging conversation. “And the change that Obama promises is not limited to what we do in America itself. It is a change of the way America looks at the world and its place in it.”
I’m not suggesting Jackson is an official surrogate for Obama, but he’s a supporter and a longtime associate. And at the very least one must ask if there’s anything Obama has said or done which would suggest that Jackson is misspeaking (for example, Obama’s not renounced or denied any of Jackson’s comments).
For some Americans, this view of America as needing to back away from a leadership position in the world and back away from our strong support of Israel will match their own views. If it does, then Obama is clearly the candidate for them. For me, they are as far from my views as any could be. They make me recoil and they spell the end of any serious effort to combat the hopelessness and mismanagement of corrupt dictatorships in the Middle East by supporting freedom and democracy. Undermining those regimes and replacing them with free nations and free people is the only clear path to our long-term security. It’s one Bush has pursued at the expense of all his political capital and considerable approval, and it’s why I support his Presidency and could not support Obama’s.
For the record, I understand why others feel differently. After 8 years of someone who doesn’t speak very well and who seems to anger other countries, there’s a lot of people who are going to be drawn to Obama. And frankly, if the world were inexorably headed toward a collision with the Sun in 6 months and there was nothing anyone could do about it, I’d vote for Obama because he’d make everyone feel hopeful and the long-term strategic implications of his naivete would never have time to manifest themselves. But I have 2 little girls who are going to inherit those implications and are, G-d willing, going to be around in 70 or 80 years still living with them. Nothing I’ve seen from Obama makes me think he has the right judgement to make that a safe world for them, and enough of his actions and associations make me seriously doubt he shares my view of America’s place in the world.