Blogger 3 Ring Binder linked to a grimly amusing video from Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show showing how President Obama’s rhetoric is not significantly different from that of President Bush.
Of course, at least part of the reason for this is what I mentioned in my previous post: one can read just about anything in President Obama’s words. He is the archetypical “Rorschach candidate.” This is obvious with respect to the fawning millions who adore him fiercely for no particular reason they would be able to put their fingers on, but it is also true for detractors who are looking for things to be critical of. So, it is not hard for Jon Stewart to find plenty of material to support his skit.
Unfortunately, the particular passages that Stewart selected highlighting the similarity between Presidents Bush and Obama demonstrate a mixture of good and bad policy statements. I certainly agree with Stewart’s implicit criticism of the Presidents’ bringing “the Almighty God” into such bold statements, which does not merely muddy the waters but actually hampers an otherwise rational statement of foreign policy with the faith-based superstitions of our enemies. I also agree with the criticism of “nation building” policies.
However, some of the quotes from the Presidents were uncompromising statements of self-defense. It is perfectly right for our Commander-in-Chief and sworn defender of the Constitution to say to those who would murder Americans, “We will defeat you.” It is right for the leader of the (relatively) free world to say, “We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense.” If only the Presidents meant it! I can only wish George Bush had acted accordingly, and I have little hope that Barack Obama will.
Frankly, I’m sorry to hear that “the cowboy days are over,” as Jason Jones, the comedic correspondent in the skit, says. That means they are over before they began, for George Bush was certainly no cowboy. Cowboys do not bluster; they act. A cowboy, knowing he had just one bullet in his revolver and finding himself face to face with his enemy, would not fire his weapon into the ground. (This last borrows the metaphor that Leonard Peikoff applied to George Bush, referring to his invasion of Iraq instead of Iran.)
Near the end of the skit, Jones delivers its most significant line. No longer able to evade the contradictions he holds, Jones finally admits, “When Obama says this stuff, I don’t think he really means it... and that gives me hope!”
Yes. That is the best we can hope for.