Conservative tweaking of the left
Greg Sargent seems not to have understood Bill Kristol's dry wit. Greg writes:
Kristol has a post up making the case that Obama has finally caved to the right's attacks and has grudgingly conceded America's greatness. The evidence? Kristol notes that in his weekly address on Saturday, the President hailed America as "the greatest nation on earth," and "the greatest country in the world."
This, Kristol says, showcases the "new, revised Obama."
It's unclear whether Kristol is joking, but given the idiocy we keep hearing along these lines, it's perfectly reasonable to assume he isn't.
Actually, one doesn't have to assume anything since Bill is easily reached and his writings are widely published. In fact, I don't really understand how nebulous "idiocy" can be attributed to Bill (or any other conservative), who has shown no interest or sympathy with the notion that the president "is vaguely alien." To the contrary, Bill has knocked conservative conspiratorialists and labeled Obama simply a "garden variety" leftist.
Bill needs no defense from me, but let me explain the joke to Greg. It is not Obama who is the target of Bill's humor, but the left and its disinclination to project American power and values. Bill, like many conservatives, has supported the president's policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's been quite generous in his praise of a number of Obama speeches. The point of the barb is to make clear that not even the liberal icon Obama adopts the left's disdain for American exceptionalism, nor its desire to retreat from the war on Islamic terror. Conservatives, me included, are prone to marvel at the left's propensity to sneer at George Bush's formulation of American exceptionalism while remaining mute as their liberal hero does the same.
The point, you see, is not to discredit the president, but to discredit those that would pull him ever leftward on matters of national security. To the degree Obama sounds much like his predecessor and conducts a robust foreign policy (e.g. use of drones in Afghanistan, a continued presence in Iraq) conservatives will applaud and, candidly, take some glee in recognizing that a president cannot adopt a leftist world view and hope to successfully defend U.S. interests.
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