Thursday, February 11, 2010

Conservatives: Obama too hawkish prosecuting terror war (?)

Remember the Bush years, when powerful levers of influence and media were routinely pulled to portray even reasonable critics of the right into wild-eyed anarchic socialists? Evidently some WD-40 is needed to get those levers moving again. Kevin Drum sums it up:
They [national security hawks] really do seem to have lost a lot of the old magic, haven't they? The problem is that they don't seem to have any other game plan than to reflexively bellow about Democrats being soft on terrorism no matter what the circumstances. [snip] Their complaints have gotten so hysterical and preposterous that it's hard for anyone outside their own base to take them seriously anymore. Increasingly, on national security issues the Republican Party in 2010 is about like Joseph McCarthy circa 1955. The rubes just aren't buying their act anymore.
The right hopes to ride some sort of wave of populist anger back to power. I don't begrudge them that--I do begrudge their lying about stuff to accomplish it, but hey, whatever. They can get away with it, so why not do it? What I find interesting is that the "Wave of Populist Anger" isn't the beginning of the right's strategy to return to power--it is the strategy. That's all it is. Read what Kit Bond and Sue Collins (two of the more moderate Republicans in the Senate) have to say about this undie bomber stuff. There is no fact there, no reason, just manufactured rage. And it's not like it can't bear any fruit! We are, after all, in a recession. It's a bad one, too, worse than we've faced in decades. Basic political dynamics are such that the GOP is almost assured to make some gains this year. But what comes next? How will they make their case to a public still skeptical of them in 2012? Here's a taste:
Today, the Obama administration is no longer attempting to capture men like these alive; it is simply killing them. This may be satisfying, but it comes at a price. With every drone strike that vaporizes a senior al Qaeda leader, actionable intelligence is vaporized along with him. Dead terrorists can't tell you their plans to strike America.
I can't believe anyone would read this and not laugh. There is a lot to unpack here, but what I find most interesting is that it seems to ignore the entire past decade. The War on Terror has been sold to us as, well, a war. Killing the bad guys is not a liability in a war--it is, in fact, what one expects. The Obama Team has proven highly successful at doing this sort of thing. I don't fault the right for trying to gain a foothold on this issue, but this just won't work.

What this demonstrates, I think, is that the right simply doesn't have a clue how to make an argument that doesn't rely on rage at the powers that be. They're good at that! But that's all they got. They had better hope it's enough.

Update: Thiessen walked it back. But my point still stands.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.