Misunderstanding "Nation Building" At Home

Posted: Jun 23, 2011 9:26 AM
Just a few quick observations on thePresident's speech from last night:

First, his line about being ready to focus on "nation building" at home was, no doubt, a poll-tested winner.  Even so, it's worth pointing out that America's economy isn't sluggish because the funds that would otherwise have "rebuilt" it have gone to Afghanistan.  Insufficient spending in the US isn't the problem.  Overregulation, overtaxation and uncertainty are what keep making employers skittish about hiring.

Second, the speech was classic Obama destruction of straw men -- isolationists vs. repeat "nation builders."  The problem, of course, is that (contrary to the President's understanding) this issue isn't about "splitting the difference." It's about whether our objectives in Afghanistan have been achieved -- and then deciding whether success is a vital American interest.  If so, then we must do what it takes to win; if not, why delay bringing the troops home?  Perhaps the one tactical advantage of the President's muddled position is that the enemy may have trouble figuring out exactly what he plans to do; on the other hand, the stench of retreat was all over it.

Third, it's remarkable to note the ease with which this President substitutes his own judgment for those he's actually hired to do the job.  When it comes to the war, he doesn't listen to General Petraeus; he knows better.  Oh, and he's a legal expert, too -- overruling his own Justice Department when it comes to whether LIbya is covered under the War Powers Act.  He's an expert on everything!

Finally, the irony of this line -- "after a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war" -- overcame me.  This, coming from the man who made his political career irresponsibly (and perhaps cynically) opposing the Bush-era policies that he later adopted as President?  Who, in what party, does he think did most to undermine the sense of "common purpose" the nation shared in the wake of 9/11?