The "jobs summit," the economy, Copenhagen (and East Anglia), Tiger Woods -- in the news an abundance of the bizarre. And let us not overlook Tareq and Michaele Salahi, that other uncredentialed couple oddly winding up in the White House.
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The Democrats are fixated on doing it. Barack Obama wants a bill, any bill, rather than no bill at all -- and has dispatched the estimable Bill Clinton to beg the Senate to borrow and steal to get it. No worries that the 4,000 pages of health-care legislation before both congressional houses would fail all three of the president's stipulations: higher quality medicine at lower cost extended to 40 million uninsured. Pass whatever bill now and amend it to socialist perfection downstream. No problem.
But there are lots of problems: plunging popular support for what the Democrats are up to on ObamaCare (or is it PelosiCare?) -- and plunging support for the president generally; a crisis of public confidence over Democratic competence. An absence of genuine bipartisanship. (Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, whom the Democrats have royally courted on health care, finds them "railroading solutions along partisan lines" and -- regarding irresponsible health-care legislation -- determined "to ram it, to jam it" through Congress.)
Never mind that doing so would mean higher taxes, higher premiums, and rationing. Never mind that it would break the economy and saddle the young with unbearable carrying costs. Never mind that for instance (1) the proposed new long-term care entitlement would decimate the budget (the way Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have not?), and that (2) mandating employers to provide health insurance would cost an estimated 1.6 million jobs through 2011 (and this with unemployment already at 10 percent). Oh, and (3) never mind that in 2020, about two-thirds of the estimated 40 million uninsured still would be...uninsured.
Barack the magic pacifist may have transmogrified into Barack the lead-dispensing war president. Let's see.
In Prague, in April, he utopianized for a nuclear-free world. In June, in Cairo, he apologized for American transgressions against Muslims everywhere. Several weeks ago, at West Point, he shouldered the Bush-initiated Afghan enterprise. Most recently, in Oslo, he ascended to a higher plateau, postulated an American exceptionalism, and found us fighting in Afghanistan a just war. He even embraced the detested Bush's hateful notion of pre-emption -- presumably against Iran.
Philosophy long has wrestled with the "just war." Since Vietnam, leftists practicing a faux intellectualism have variously found "unjust" wars counter-productive, morally offensive, or personally inconvenient. Many have tuned out and chosen Canada -- or whatever.
In Iraq, with no help from Senator Obama (yet with from him no little complaint), we faced considerable challenges and overcame. Now President Obama has in essence signed on to the Bush Doctrine he so vehemently opposed. Fighting a jihad threatening American security makes the cut after all. It is somehow, you know, just. Soon, having long resisted, he may begin deploying the word victory. (At West Point, he actually deployed defeat. In Oslo, he used the word kill -- twice.)
Nearly 100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt said in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize: "Peace is generally good in itself, but it is never the highest good unless it comes as the handmaid of righteousness."
Woodrow Wilson, who also won the Nobel after taking the U.S. into World War I, said: "It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war....But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts -- for democracy,...for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free."
Winston Churchill spoke of "the victories of the Righteous Cause."
Thucydides noted that one may choose whether to fight, but the decision to do so removes any further choice -- offering no alternative to fighting on to victory.
If Barack Obama is joining these good men and true in the Pantheon of Just War, where victory and liberty are celebrated, then that is good. And in the pantheon he may find himself siding with one of the most compelling of all philosophers -- Montesquieu: "The life of states is like that of men," he said. "The latter have the right of killing in self-defense; the former to make wars for their own preservation."
In their determination to socialize the nation's medicine, ideologized Democrats may overcome the growing sentiment of the citizens they are supposed to serve -- and force upon them (through no bipartisanship to speak of) lower quality, rationed medicine at higher cost.
And embracing the concept of "just war" in Afghanistan, President Obama has enlisted in George Bush's War on Terror (in the Bush-Cheney vernacular, "The Long War" -- remember?), and thereby to march with him hand in hand to victory. Now that's bipartisanship, albeit of a different sort.
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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