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Posts Tagged ‘Imperial Presidency’

Andrew Sullivan is nothing if not prone to revisiting his earlier enthusiasms.  I suppose there is a kind of authenticity in that . . . “often wrong, but never uncertain!”  He loved Bush for a while, but grew disenchanted on account of Iraq and the gay marriage issue. Then he liked Ron Paul for a spell until Paul’s old school conservative views from the early 90s were revealed.

Now he is down on Obama due to the Libyan campaign (and in particular the lack of any public relations campaign). I checked Sully’s website not sure if he’d be against the campaign or say that anyone opposed to it was the second coming of Neville Chamberlain. His strong enthusiasms are not matched by equal philosophical clarity.

But Sullivan does make a good point that every patriotic American should agree with:

My anger is not simply at what I regard as the folly of starting a long war with someone as insane as Qaddafi, but at the way this war was foisted on the public with absolutely no warning.

It shows contempt for the American people, and their views, and contempt for the Congress and its role in deliberating before going to war. As [James] Fallows notes, this entire debate was entirely about changing one man’s mind, not the country or the Congress or the people. Only the emperor counts, and if he happens to be wrong, tough luck. Who would have thought we’d elect Barack Obama to replicate the worst aspects of an unaccountable executive?

Sully is confusing his idealized image of Obama with Obama the reality.  Obama is not replicating anything.  He is taking the natural tendency of the American executive–to obtain and protect power in its operational sphere–and wedding that to un-American big government ideas.  He believes in government, his foreign policy views derive from his concern that his domestic big government programs may be harmed by foreign wars, and, more than the average politician, he really really believes in himself.  Obama doesn’t have much faith in America, however, so when he’s alienating the majority of Americans (as in healthcare) or thumbing his nose at historical American practice (as in the Libyan operation) he feels like he’s being faitful to his core mission.

Obama’s incoherent embrace in 2008 of the war in Afghanistan while poo-pooing Iraq should have been a clue.  By then, both were the same types of campaigns fought for the same reasons using the same strategy.  True, Afghanistan harbored the 9/11 attackers and began as a revenge operation, but by 2008 both wars were nation-building efforts to spread Muslim democracy and root out homegrown anti-government insurgents.  By 2008, neither campaign had much of anything to do with revenge or international terrorists, other than a prop in the propaganda that supported the campaigns.  That Obama could embrace this kind of incoherent nonsense bode ill of him, and I wrote as much at the time.

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