Saturday, July 19, 2008

Taking No Risk and Being Right

Let’s say you are a bit of a leftist politically and your local constituency is more concerned with welfare issues and the government dole than with grand international relations questions. The nation is attacked and a vote comes up on whether to respond aggressively or turn the other cheek. You look around the chamber and note that the predominant majority is going to kick some butt in response to the attack. It becomes easy then to swim against the tide and vote against military response. You retain your credentials and you also run no risk of being blamed for unresponsiveness. If the operation is like most military interventions and doesn’t go as smoothly as everyone hoped you can then point at your futile resistance and tout your wisdom at the moment. On Monday morning you remind everyone you would have run out the clock and not thrown the long ball which might have lost the game.

But, there is a huge difference in now pointing to that action as some sort of judgment call which qualifies you to be the actual quarter-back that suits up next season. Your pacifist credential really doesn’t mean squat to the coach who is going to evaluate your potential in practice this August and September. Whether you get to play or not will be heavily dependent upon how you read the defenses and actually execute decisions in the scrimmage. So, it is going to get a lot sweatier when President-in-waiting Obama finally gets off of his sophisticated senatorial butt and actually goes to apply his well polished boots to the ground of Iraq and Afghanistan. Actually viewing the game plan and the playbook rather than pontificating at the water-cooler in the office is going to take a lot more judgment than Barack has so far had the opportunity to demonstrate.

Future is Risky, Past is Easy

Frankly, I’m not at all confident that he’s got the chops to play first string. There simply is no “there” there. We might see the reprise of the feisty old lady in the burger commercial demanding to know, “where’s the beef?”

But, the Wall Street Journal is pretty uppity today and they take another hard shot with this:

And Another Shot

The repositioning of the candidate is pretty apparent and it doesn’t really convince anyone that he is as principled as he says he is. One or two policy adjustments is easily defensible as becoming more informed about the options or recognizing changes in the situation. Running willy-nilly back and forth across the policy spectrum in response to the current audience is another thing entirely.

The WSJ’s somewhat flamboyant title, “What Would Obama Die For” is however, worthy of consideration. The opinion piece deals with political death. What really should be the framework of the scenario is does he hold any values that he would really face death to defend. Most of the heroes I’ve known never blatantly suggested that they would lay down their lives for their country or their comrades. They simply did it when the need arose. That’s courage, conviction and heroism by its very definition rather than posturing and braggadocio. I wonder if there is anything that Mr. Obama values that highly beyond his own ambition.

Somehow I don’t see the man as first out of the trench.

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