On Palin, Obama, and “weakening America.” A reply to Jennifer Rubin

January 10, 2011

Over the weekend, Sarah Palin gave an interview on the Laura Ingraham radio show in which she said that President Obama is “hell-bent on weakening America.” Governor Palin made this comment in regard to raising the debt-ceiling*, citing an Obama statement from 2006 in which he opposed an effort back then to raise the ceiling as harmful to America, yet now it is something he supports. Palin took this as evidence that he wants to weaken the US economy, hence her observation to Ingraham.

In a Right Turn post today, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin took great exception to Palin’s accusation, calling it “outlandish and insulting:”

Lost in the shuffle was an utterance for which Palin should be held to account. Last week, she accused the president of intentional weakening the economy. (And this is the voice of someone seriously contemplating a presidential run, mind you.) This is crazy talk and should be rejected.

Conservatives generally think President Obama’s policies are terribly wrong and that he unwisely placed other priorities above the economic recovery. But is he intentionally sabotaging the economy? No. That suggestion is baseless and illogical. (He wants to sink the economy so as to improve his re-election chances?)

Contra Rubin, I agree with the former governor that President Obama is deliberately weakening the United States. Not, of course, in some cartoonish conspiracy that has Barack Obama twirling a fake mustache and cackling with evil glee, but as the deliberate policy choice of someone who sees American hegemony as a source of the world’s problems and thinks the solution is American decline to the point where it is just one nation among equals.

Governor Palin is not the first to make this observation, by any means. In a 2009 essay** for The Weekly Standard, Charles Krauthammer surveyed the foreign and domestic policies of the then-new Obama administration and concluded “Decline Is a Choice:”

The New Liberalism will protest that despite its rhetoric, it is not engaging in moral reparations, but seeking real strategic advantage for the United States on the assumption that the reason we have not gotten cooperation from, say, the Russians, Iranians, North Koreans, or even our European allies on various urgent agendas is American arrogance, unilateralism, and dismissiveness. And therefore, if we constrict and rebrand and diminish ourselves deliberately–try to make ourselves equal partners with obviously unequal powers abroad–we will gain the moral high ground and rally the world to our causes.

Well, being a strategic argument, the hypothesis is testable. Let’s tally up the empirical evidence of what nine months of self-abasement has brought.

With all the bowing and scraping and apologizing and renouncing, we couldn’t even sway the International Olympic Committee. Given the humiliation incurred there in pursuit of a trinket, it is no surprise how little our new international posture has yielded in the coin of real strategic goods. Unilateral American concessions and offers of unconditional engagement have moved neither Iran nor Russia nor North Korea to accommodate us. Nor have the Arab states–or even the powerless Palestinian Authority–offered so much as a gesture of accommodation in response to heavy and gratuitous American pressure on Israel. Nor have even our European allies responded: They have anted up essentially nothing in response to our pleas for more assistance in Afghanistan.

The very expectation that these concessions would yield results is puzzling. Thus, for example, the president is proposing radical reductions in nuclear weapons and presided over a Security Council meeting passing a resolution whose goal is universal nuclear disarmament, on the theory that unless the existing nuclear powers reduce their weaponry, they can never have the moral standing to demand that other states not go nuclear.

But whatever the merits of unilateral or even bilateral U.S.-Russian disarmament, the notion that it will lead to reciprocal gestures from the likes of Iran and North Korea is simply childish. They are seeking the bomb for reasons of power, prestige, intimidation, blackmail, and regime preservation. They don’t give a whit about the level of nuclear arms among the great powers. Indeed, both Iran and North Korea launched their nuclear weapons ambitions in the 1980s and the 1990s–precisely when the United States and Russia were radically reducing their arsenals.

This deliberate choice of strategic retreats to engender good feeling is based on the naïve hope of exchanges of reciprocal goodwill with rogue states. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the theory–as policy–has demonstrably produced no strategic advances. But that will not deter the New Liberalism because the ultimate purpose of its foreign policy is to make America less hegemonic, less arrogant, less dominant.

In a word, it is a foreign policy designed to produce American decline–to make America essentially one nation among many. And for that purpose, its domestic policies are perfectly complementary.

(Emphases added)

Hmmm: “…diminish ourselves deliberately,” “…less dominant,” “…designed to produce American decline.” I’d call all those synonyms for “weakening,” wouldn’t you? It seems to me Governor Palin is making much the same point as Dr. Krauthammer, only in a more plain-spoken manner and in the informal setting of a radio interview. If Sarah Palin is being outrageous and insulting, as Rubin accuses, then isn’t also Charles Krauthammer?

One reason Rubin gives for dismissing Palin’s comment is that Obama would have to be nuts to want to weaken America, given that would harm his chances for reelection. But that assumes Obama really cares about reelection. Sure, he’s taking steps now to gear up for 2012, but don’t forget his press secretary has said he is willing to be a one-term president to get health-care passed. While Allahpundit was dismissive of Gibbs’ assertion (and, let’s face it, it’s easy to dismiss Gibbs), I’m not so sure…

Bear in mind that Barack Obama is a lifelong Socialist, and that part and parcel of his ideology is the belief that the world’s problems are caused by the unequal distribution of wealth and power and that America’s very success is the poster-child for this. Redress demands a redistribution — spreading the wealth around, to recall the President’s own words in another context. In this case it is a redistribution of geopolitical power –military as well as economic– that can only be achieved by a weakening of America, making her no more exceptional than any other nation.

And Barack Obama is not just a Socialist, but specifically, as Kurtz has shown, a follower of the Alinsky method of incremental yet irreversible change that leads to eventual Socialism. An Alinskyite is willing to accept short or medium-term setbacks and hardship in order to achieve that long-term goal. While Rubin finds it unbelievable, the President may well have thought (perhaps only recently changing his mind) that being defeated in 2012 was worth achieving the goals he and his ideological allies share: not just universal health care and the socialization of America, but also her diminishment –weakening– until she is no more than one among the many nations of Earth, thus righting what they see as great wrongs.

To return to Jennifer Rubin’s outrage, then, I find it mistaken and that Governor Palin was indeed right when she said President Barack Obama is “hell-bent on weakening America.”

And that makes his defeat in 2012 essential.

NOTE: Lest anyone think I’m bashing Ms. Rubin here, I’m not. She’s one of my favorite conservative analysts and I strongly recommend following her. I do, however, suspect that she, in common with other Washington-centric analysts such as Dr. Krauthammer, have a blind-spot when it comes to Sarah Palin that keeps them from seeing the truth when she speaks it. Why, I don’t know, but it’s definitely there.

*For the record, this is one of the few instances where I disagree with Governor Palin. I think not raising the debt ceiling would be a fiscal and economic disaster. Republicans should agree to raise it, but only after extracting serious concessions on spending and the budget process from Democrats.

**This is a brilliant essay, and I urge everyone to read it to get a clear understanding of where the Democrats want to take us.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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Who ya gonna call?

January 25, 2010

You’re President Obama. (Oh, stop crying. It’s just pretend.) Most of the country hates the centerpiece policy of your administration, health care reform. Those same people think you’re doing a lousy job creating jobs, protecting the country, and even just keeping your word. Your personal ratings are tanking and you’ve just had your butt kicked in three straight state elections.

Things are looking bad, so whom do you send for to help right the ship? Why, your ex-campaign manager, of course!

David Plouffe, the man who managed President Barack Obamas campaign, will be taking on an expanded role as an outside adviser to the White House, according to sources familiar with the plan, a move that comes just days after a stunning defeat for Democrats in a Massachusetts Senate special election.

Jennifer Rubin sees this as the essence of Obamaism:

Not a new economic team. Not a new chief of staff. Not even a new national security staff to replace the gang that dropped the ball on the Christmas Day bomber. No, with the Obami, it is never about substance or getting the policy right. It’s not about governance. It is about the perpetual campaign. So the campaign manager gets the emergency call.

Of course, because all Obama knows is how to campaign; he’s never held a position with real executive accountability before, either in government or out, unlike, oh, Sarah Palin. As Mark Steyn puts it:

The most striking aspect of his performance (in Massachusetts) was how unhappy he looked, as if he doesn’t enjoy the job. You can understand why. He ran as something he’s not, and never has been: a post-partisan, centrist, transformative healer. That’d be a difficult trick to pull off even for somebody with any prior executive experience, someone who’d actually run something, like a state, or even a town, or even a commercial fishing operation, like that poor chillbilly boob Sarah Palin. At one point late in the 2008 campaign, when someone suggested that if Governor Palin was “unqualified” then surely he was too, Obama pointed out as evidence to the contrary his ability to run such an effective campaign. In other words, running for president was his main qualification for being president.

No wonder he’s summoned Plouffe: our president wants to go back to his “happy place” – being on campaign.

Back to Rubin, she goes on to comment on a recent article by Plouffe that’s nothing less than a masterpiece of denial. In it, he argues that the Democrats just need to double-down on what they’ve been doing for the last year, and everything will come up rainbows and unicorns next November. Jennifer rolls her eyes at him, but Jim Geraghty unleashes both barrels of a 12-gauge fisking:

If his op-ed accurately depicts what the Obama and broader Democratic strategy is going to be, then I think the floor for Republican wins in the House in 2010 will be about 217 seats and the ceiling is . . . oh, 435?

Plouffe describes the health-care bill as “a good plan that has become a demonized caricature.” It seems to him incomprehensible that a majority might genuinely oppose legislation that includes government fees for having too much health insurance — with or without a union exemption — taxpayer funding of abortions, potential coverage of illegal immigrants, special deals for the states of Nebraska and Louisiana because their senators held out, and the government eventually taking some treatments off the table because they’re deemed insufficiently cost-effective.

Strangely, a few paragraphs later, “Voters are always smarter than they are given credit for.” Except when they disagree with you, huh, David?

And that’s just for starters: read and enjoy the whole thing.

So, with his policy a shambles, his administration disoriented, and his party heading for the rocks in November, Barack Obama calls for a man who urges more cowbell.

Are we sure this isn’t a Karl Rove plot?  I dont know

(via Obi’s Sister)


A White House of petty pols

January 1, 2010

Jennifer Rubin, star blogger at Contentions and a regular at Pajamas Media and elsewhere, unleashes her contempt for Team Obama, which considers an immediate blast-back to criticism from Dick Cheney (or Sarah Palin, or Rush Limbaugh, or FOX News) more important than a fast response to a crisis in Iran or a terrorist attack on the US:

The Pavlovian Response: Attack Cheney

This gang makes the Clintons look high-minded and magnanimous by comparison. Part of this attitude stems from their lack of other, more appropriate governing skills. They don’t know how to craft an effective, bipartisan health-care bill, or make a swift decision on Afghanistan (or announce it without the need for days of “it really isn’t a timeline” statements), or put together an alternative to “engagement” on Iran that doesn’t smack of more of the same wishful thinking. But they do know how to win elections, feed the media machine, and attack their political foes. So that is what they do over and over again.

More important, they have defined themselves as being not Bush and not Cheney. They cling to the rhetoric after it has lost all meaning (”Closing Guantanamo will protect our values.”), and they feel compelled to be contrarians (”Lose ‘the war on terror!’”). When Cheney appears periodically to mess with their heads (Don’t we think there is quite a bit of that going on?), their eyes light up and they jump. Ah, something they can do well — attack Cheney! But doing it frequently or quickly doesn’t make it smart or presidential. Like attacking Rush Limbaugh (best wishes for a speedy recovery) or Fox News, it diminishes rather than elevates Obama and gives us the sense that these are small-time pols, in over their heads. That would be more annoying than scary if we didn’t live in a world with Islamic terrorists and an Iranian regime bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.

But what do you really think, Jennifer?

And check out the rest of her posts from yesterday. Ouch!


Obama’s four cardinal mistakes

September 22, 2009

From Jennifer Rubin:

Third, presented with a choice between governing as a centrist and governing as a leftist, he chose the latter, feeding the netroot machine with Bush invectives, championing huge government power grabs, nationalizing two car companies, apologizing incessantly for America’s real and imagined sins, undertaking a spending spree like no other president, and lecturing us about racism (proving that any hopes for a post-racial era were misplaced).

Had Obama run a campaign promising to excoriate his predecessor at every turn, pass a mammoth energy tax and regulatory scheme, chase private health insurance from the market, outspend George W. Bush, deride America to overseas foes, toss valued allies including Israel, Honduras, Poland, and the Czech Republic under the bus, renege on missile defense in Europe and cut our own systems by $2 billion, and hire a “truther” for green jobs czar and an attorney general who wants to talk more and more about race (but not prosecute the New Black Panthers), it is fair to say he would never have gotten elected. So it should be no mystery why so many voters are having buyers’ remorse.

For the other three, visit Pajamas Media.