Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fear vs. Hope

Times Square Hustle & Bustle, 2005

You can't dismiss fear out of hand, because bad things do happen. I think New York Mayor Bloomberg has it exactly right: he quantifies terror threats to more common disasters and tells people to get over it. It's real, but get real, according to "I'm not a candidate" Mike.

I also happen to think that Obama did make a genuine bad mistake in the uTube debate by saying he'd be willing to meet without precondition with a host of America adversaries. He fell into a trap, period. Does that disqualify him? No. But it is a demerit.

On Pakistan, Obama wasn't bold, and was foolish. We all expect, no matter what our political stripe, that the president will do anything to protect us (including torturing people). Who has ever been impeached for propping up a dictator -- or taking down an elected Commie? And as Biden has pointed out, the president has the explicit authority to do what Obama threatened. But floating the balloon has unhelpful consequences all its own.

We like to think we are high-minded but everyone wants to survive and America has extraordinary powers to do so. Kerry, as many Democrats before him, failed because he did not cut the figure of a tough guy. Hillary has an extra chore convincing voters she is, you will pardon the expression, a tough guy. She is doing it with posture and nuance and the limited ire she is drawing is proof she is succeeding at this. Obama is being too overt, perhaps because he has no record to draw upon. But it is a gamble he has to take.

But I don't think savvy alone will do it. I guarantee events will conspire to challenge the non-doomsayers. Even "Thank you for saving me from the draft" Bill might not have won in "wartime."

Anyone who hasn't placed an early bet on "I'm a tough guy when the going gets tough" might just look like a pussy on the home stretch

1 comment:

Bob said...

Thinking more about the criticism of Obama's mistake in speaking publicly, or going public, about attacking terrorists in general or Al Qaeda in particular, I wonder if, by the same measure, something advertised as a "global war on terror" whose centerpiece is a widely broadcast, old fashioned 20th century [17th century?] military land mass invasion fits this description too? Something done poorly becomes that much more damaging when done publicly. Maybe Obama was saying publicly what many of us now understand, that what needs to be done quietly is apparently not being done. Okay, so criticize him for that. But, once the horrible toll of human life lost on 9/11 is considered, the next worse thing about Al Qaeda's 9/11 attack was to have damaged the global sense of America's invincibiity, and unfortunately the Iraq invasion may have added to that unhelpful condition. Yes, we are strong. But what happens if our enemies don't believe it?