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Meet The New Change

...same as the old change.

I've been amused, or at least bemused, for many months that Barack Obama has gotten away with pretending that his stale, failed collectivist policies represent something "new." So has Michael Ledeen:

Once upon a time, Obama's vision of "change"-which is based on class structure and top-down collective enterprises-was not only contemporary but exciting. It inspired a generation of Americans to create the welfare state. But then the welfare state aged, and now, in the wild-west world of globalization, instant communication, the blogosphere and so forth, it is very old hat. The ideas are still hanging around, however.

Bill Clinton understood that, and since he wasn't really committed to any particular political agenda aside from his own success, he was able to grab many of his opponents' ideas and use them. I remember poor Bob Dole complaining that Clinton was stealing his ideas, and he was right.

Obama doesn't get that, I suspect because he really believes those old, now-failed ideas. He can't bring himself to say that the collectivist projects of the sort he promoted in Chicago are bad for the poor, although when pressed he ootches toward more sensible positions (as when, in Saddleback, he confessed that he had probably been a bit too negative about welfare reform). We've all noticed that Obama keeps moving toward McCain's positions on many issues, even on the basic one: the war.

If you hold ideas that no longer work (and indeed don't even explain anything contemporary), it's hard to conduct an inspirational political campaign, and Obama, like almost all the other Democrats, is stuck with the knowledge that he's going to lose most of the policy debates. But he still wants to win. And the only way he CAN win is to destroy his opponents, which is the strategy the left is pursuing, ever more frantically.

Of course, I would be more amused if so many people didn't seem to fall for the schtick. But fortunately, it looks like a sufficient number are on to him that he won't get to implement his "change." As Bill Whittle wrote, Sarah took away his glamour, and now John McCain is purloining his "change" mantra, which was never much, but it was all that he had left.

[Update a few minutes later]

It occurs to me that one of the reasons that young people are susceptible to Barack Obama's "change" hokum is that they have no sense of history. To them, all is new, and only George Bush's policies are old.



Jay Manifold wrote:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for enough voters to be too young to remember the Seventies.

LB Parker wrote:

And for enough young voters to have been indoctrinated (oops, I mean taught)in the pubic (sorry, PUBLIC) schools that history is whatever PC garbage (make that "wisdom")the current crop of extreme-left teachers says it is.

ken anthony wrote:

Ok, so when are we going to fix it?

If they're old enough to fight, they're old enough to vote. So then we have an amendment to the constitution that gives ALL 18 year old the right to vote instead of just those that volunteer to serve in the military.

We not only allow sedition to be taught in our schools, we pay for it.

Russia controls all the media in their country and all the schools. The result, my Russian ex-wife, studying for her MBA in Sacramento, still thinks Marx and Lenin were wonderful, misunderstood fellows.

When I sent my ex-wife an email with the Reagan quote about the difference between a communist and an anti-communist (one reads Marx and Lenin, the other understands Marx and Lenin.) She was not amused.

Education is the means of destroying a mind. We can't continue to allow what's happening in this country or we won't have a country in a few generations.

Can anything explain why Obama has a shot at president?

For the good of the republic, perhaps we should institute mass mugging of liberals (a conservative is a liberal that's been mugged.)

The problem is, all muggers are brain dead MTV liberals (not like the good old days when we had depression era conservative muggers.)

So how do we make this work???

K wrote:

Um, I'm pretty sure "CHANGE" is a euphemism for ending the war and not getting into another one for at least the next 8 years. I know a lot of people who find this an interesting and exciting platform given the number of conflicts their country has been involved with in the last 50 years. Conflicts that the MSM has brought directly into their living rooms day after day until they are quite tired of same. Many of them have young children whom they are not eager to be be running off to get killed or maimed in central Europe or Iran.

For some reason, they don't seem to think McCain will implement this particular "CHANGE". Go figure.

Richard wrote:

K, that particular platform-plank has already been addressed by the Founders. To wit:

"A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one."
-Alexander Hamilton

We do not seek fights with others. But if another seeks to give us one, then we must point out that there is a limit to how far we will culturally permit ourselves to be pushed. Inflicting physical harm on friends and allies - or worse, on the American people directly - is a pretty damned good way to cross that threshold. And it will ever remain so, until the demise of the Republic.

Jonathan wrote:

Ledeen's commentary on the election has been excellent.

Karl Hallowell wrote:

Um, I'm pretty sure "CHANGE" is a euphemism for ending the war and not getting into another one for at least the next 8 years.

K, I don't know where you stand on the subject, but my take is that how you end a "war" helps determine how easy it'll be to stay out of future wars. Obama hasn't shown me that he can stay out of future wars. I actually have more confidence that McCain can keep us out of future wars than Obama. A credible leader gets you out of a lot of trouble.

An interesting tidbit related to this. There have been a number of military drafts dating back to the Civil War. Of these, to my knowledge only one was ever instituted by a Republican (ignoring Eisenhower's continuation of the draft after the Korean War), that was Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. For whatever reason, there were drafts by Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson, all democrats. Only Johnson of the above four had any military experience (rear echalon except a brief stint as an "observer").

My take is that the military inexperience of these leaders helped aggrevate the circumstances that lead to the need for a draft. Lincoln's election was the trigger for the succession of the Confederacy and it's not clear to me that war was inevitable. Wilson got the US into the war with Germany. And his postwar handling of Versailles was abominable.

Franklin Roosevelt both inadequately prepared the US for war (through his Great Depression policies) and failed to stop Germany from completing its military buildup. Similarly on the Pacific front, the Japanese were allowed to invade China without significant response from the US. In the 50's, Harry Truman responded inadequately to the initial invasion of South Korea by North Korea. He's also presided over the only use of an atomic bomb.

And finally the build up to the Vietnam War happened mostly during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Kennedy is also responsible for some of the worst failures of US foreign policy (particularly the Cuban missile crisis and starting the buildup of US presence in South Vietnam).

Most of these administrations would have been considered somewhat more pacifist than their Republican counterparts, yet they lead into most of the greatest conflicts the US has been involved in.

The point is that a lack of military credibility routinely results in more not less wars. I think there's enough history to support that argument here.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Harry Truman did a stint in the Army. He commanded a field artillery battery in the first World War.

And Roosevelt was Secretary of the Navy, FWIW.

Bob wrote:


Interesting comment, but it seems worth distinguishing between a number of different categories: presidents who inititiated a military draft, those who continued one; presidents who got the united states into an avoidable war; presidents who had or did not have military experience; and so on.

Your analysis might consider the case of President McKinley, who had extensive military experience in the Civil War, who, as president, opposed American involvement in the Spanish-American war, and yet who caved to Republican pressure and involved the United States anyway. McKinley was a Republican. There was no draft, but it was an awfully stupid and extensive war.

I wish I had time to take a walk through US history, but briefly:

Nixon, his wartime experience, and his Vietnam policies probably ought to be analyzed as well. Nixon ended the draft as he promised he would, but he continued it for an awfully long time (political and military pressure?), as he continued the war itself, despite his supposed plan to end the war. Nixon participated in WWII...

What's a war anyway? The US military has been involved in a very long list of engagements. Is Grenada big enough to count as a war? Was it avoidable? Reagan's own wartime experience (and his memories of it) have been discussed at length.

I wish I could spend today thinking about history, but gotta run.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on September 14, 2008 10:43 AM.

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