That sound you hear in the distance is the tsunami of support for Obama from all sectors and partisan stripes, it is quite interesting to behold.
When a friend of mine in South Carolina who has been a lifelong conservative (not a Republican party doucebag, but definitely on the right end of things) just told me last week that he had not only voted for Obama in the SC primary but canvassed for him, I started realizing that this really is going to be a different year. Maybe some real changes are afoot.
Yes, I am a sucker for anecdotes, and, yes, this one friend does not a trend make (that being the error of self centrality, as that same friend always says).
And, if we are being honest, he could have just as well have been canvassing for Obama in a middle aged attempt to get laid -- Democrats being easier than Republicans, and that goes double for Obama's easy living, dope smoking, sandal wearing, bra-burning supporters.
And now sharp, right critics of empire like Andrew Bacevich (who I read and respect) are attempting to make a case of Obama built entirely on the entirely reasonable and accurate idea that Bush Republicanism is in fact nothing short of run-away imperial big government tyranny. The argument is that Obama won't reverse that, of course, but at least he won't keep flushing US lives and money down the Iraqi toilet and therefore will usher in a post-imperial era.
The logic seems to be that Bush is so bad that somehow Obama will be not just the opposite, but will act as a transformative messiah sweeping away the multiple evils of the Republicans.
Bacevich seems to be arguing that we should use Obama as a purgative on the body politic. And that this is a good thing!
Above all, there is this: the Iraq War represents the ultimate manifestation of the American expectation that the exercise of power abroad offers a corrective to whatever ailments afflict us at home. Rather than setting our own house in order, we insist on the world accommodating itself to our requirements. The problem is not that we are profligate or self-absorbed; it is that others are obstinate and bigoted. Therefore, they must change so that our own habits will remain beyond scrutiny.
Of all the obstacles to a revival of genuine conservatism, this absence of self-awareness constitutes the greatest. As long as we refuse to see ourselves as we really are, the status quo will persist, and conservative values will continue to be marginalized. Here, too, recognition that the Iraq War has been a fool’s errand—that cheap oil, the essential lubricant of the American way of life, is gone for good—may have a salutary effect. Acknowledging failure just might open the door to self-reflection.
None of these concerns number among those that inspired Barack Obama’s run for the White House. When it comes to foreign policy, Obama’s habit of spouting internationalist bromides suggests little affinity for serious realism. His views are those of a conventional liberal. Nor has Obama expressed any interest in shrinking the presidency to its pre-imperial proportions. He does not cite Calvin Coolidge among his role models. And however inspiring, Obama’s speeches are unlikely to make much of a dent in the culture. The next generation will continue to take its cues from Hollywood rather than from the Oval Office.
Yet if Obama does become the nation’s 44th president, his election will constitute something approaching a definitive judgment of the Iraq War. As such, his ascent to the presidency will implicitly call into question the habits and expectations that propelled the United States into that war in the first place. Matters hitherto consigned to the political margin will become subject to close examination. Here, rather than in Obama’s age or race, lies the possibility of his being a truly transformative presidency.
Whether conservatives will be able to seize the opportunities created by his ascent remains to be seen. Theirs will not be the only ideas on offer. A repudiation of the Iraq War and all that it signifies will rejuvenate the far Left as well. In the ensuing clash of visions, there is no guaranteeing that the conservative critique will prevail.
But this much we can say for certain: electing John McCain guarantees the perpetuation of war. The nation’s heedless march toward empire will continue. So, too, inevitably, will its embrace of Leviathan. Whether snoozing in front of their TVs or cheering on the troops, the American people will remain oblivious to the fate that awaits them.
For conservatives, Obama represents a sliver of hope. McCain represents none at all. The choice turns out to be an easy one.
Yeah right. 50 bucks we still have a troop presence in Iraq at the end of Obama's first term--any takers?
Bacevich's view really is the messianic interpretation of Obama's purity cleaning out the stables. he will lift us up --amen!--he will take us OUT of Iraq --amen! --and he will revitalize America--Thank you Jesus!
Isn't Obama just a particularly slick politician but still a fucking politician? Can we explain his two books and his rise to unstoppable media-driven celebrity as the makings of anything other than a power-mad politician who saw his opportunities and took them? The fact that he is running against a power-mad carpetbagger mini-dictator doesn't change much. What kind of thoughtful conservative thinks otherwise? Bacevich might as well admit he has jumped ship.
My guess is that once in office Obama will shortly realize that pulling out of Iraq just like that will moisten his shoes with some slimy and smeary shit that will consume his presidency and much else. It ain't going to be pretty.
And the empire isn't going away. Ask yourself this: under Bill Clinton, after the Cold War ended and given his total lack of interest in foreign affairs, did the U.S. global military stance increase or decrease? Did the military deploy more times during his administrations than in the previous 12 years of Reagan-Bush I, or fewer? Well, so goes one argument anyway.
I seem to remember another pure, intelligent, well spoken, homespun, outside the Beltway candidate who was going to restore honor and dignity to a White House soiled by a criminal, militaristic, murderous, evil, dishonorable president.
(please remember what tsunamis do to peaceful farm life on the coasts).