Presidents and Wars: Of Laureates and Cowboys
Victor Davis Hanson
In politics, having power and keeping it often mean fudging a little on ideology.
So conservatives sometimes convince the country to do very liberal things -- think of
Liberals can sometimes act like conservatives without worry of being smeared by their base as heartless right-wingers -- remember
But in matters of war, being liberal is a great advantage for a president.
The mainstream media and cultural elite give a Democratic commander in chief a pass that would rarely be extended to a Republican. Perhaps this double standard occurs because they believe a progressive president goes to war only reluctantly -- even though most of our bloodiest conflicts have been fought under Democratic presidents.
Candidate Obama, like his rivals in the Democratic presidential primaries, ran on an array of antiwar themes.
Obama's rhetoric reflected the Democratic orthodoxy that by 2006 saw unhappiness with the war as a winning campaign theme.
But after his inauguration, Obama apparently grasped two realities. The first: Antiwar rhetoric on the stump was easy, but the responsibility of keeping Americans safe from terrorism and Islamic radicalism was not. The second: He guessed that liberal furor over the war on terror and the interventions in
So after early 2009 there was no more talk of a lost war in
And as Obama must have anticipated, there are now no more antiwar rallies and
Progressives have concluded that to now oppose the Bush-Obama foreign policies would only hurt their own party's domestic agenda, and that a cool, sensitive President Obama does what he must reluctantly -- in contrast to a zealot warmonger like former
Call all this hypocrisy, but it does create interesting political irony. Conservatives don't know whether to score points against Obama for his about-face and past politicizing of national security issues, or praise him for continuing what they feel were necessary Bush efforts that have kept us safe.
Liberals may be slightly embarrassed that their past furor over the various ongoing wars on terror more or less mysteriously ceased in
How does this affect America at large?
Liberal Nobel laureates can fight wars abroad pretty much as they deem necessary -- without worrying that they are going to be vilified at home.
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Presidents and Wars: Of Laureates and Cowboys | Politics
(c) 2010 Victor Davis Hanson