21 March 2010

Shadow Government still not making sense

Despite being a card-carrying liberal/progressive/whatever, I try hard to find reasonable conservative voices to follow, in order to avoid falling into a complete "echo chamber". For this reason, I've been trying to read Foreign Policy's "Shadow Government." But sometimes it still just doesn't make sense.

Exhibit A today is this post by Daniel Blumenthal. He tries to make the case that Barack Obama is failing at foreign policy, and that it is all due to a "crisis of his own making." However, his whole argument is based on some pretty silly contentions.

First is the idea that it is unprecedented for a President to cancel a trip for a "crisis of his own making." There are two problems with this. The first is that Presidents have done this before, as evidenced by Bush's own cancelling of a trip to Africa to strategize about Saddam Hussein. And, I'm sorry, yes, the entire world knew that to be a crisis of his own making, because Saddam was not threatening anyone at that time. The second problem is the assumption that this is a crisis of Obama's own making. He has been pushing for health insurance reform for a long time, like every other Democratic president going back to Harry Truman, but it was up to Congress to actually pass the damn thing.

Blumenthal backs up his point by stating:
It is one thing for a president to cancel a trip because of a domestic disaster, but Obama himself created this mess. When Obama became president there was a long list of economic and foreign policy challenges to which everyone agreed he had to attend. Instead, he launched the country on a long, divisive, and distracting debate about health care. This choice has real consequences as Indonesians and Australians learn that they are not as important to Obama as is his domestic agenda.
This is pretty well nonsense. Health care reform was one of the most talked about and important issues of the election. It was one of the single largest points of contention between Clinton and Obama; it was one of the largest components of the debates between Obama and McCain. It was actually on the list of economic policy challenges that everyone agreed that Obama had to deal with.

As for how Indonesians and Australians feel, I know that most Australians find it mind-boggling that it is this hard to get anything like this passed.

The other massive issue with his piece is his assumption that Obama has a "leftist agenda", which apparently means anti-trade and anti-security. He cites the idea that the Defense Department wasn't asked to spend money on the stimulus as proof that Obama wants to gut defense spending. Never mind that defense spending was one of the only things left off the table for the spending freeze that Obama announced. I think it has more to do with keeping the defense budget stable, and the fact that defense spending has less of a stimulus effect than just about any other kind.

In short, it's a bit of a stupid screed, being hosted on one of the more prestigious bits of foreign policy cyberspace. It makes me despair of finding honest conservatives grounded in the same world as me to try to follow.

No comments:

Post a Comment