Monday, November 17, 2008

Everyone's War Now?

Caught a decent chunk of Barack Obama's 60 Minutes interview and was for the most part impressed by what I heard. One thing that's clear with Obama is he goes into situations like this with a definite plan on the impression that he wants to leave and works hard to make sure that's how he comes across. It's a very calculated approach that takes a lot of discipline and control. Part of his appeal is that he manages to pull it off almost effortlessly.

One particular response that caught my attention was this:

Kroft: What have you been concentrating on this week?

Mr. Obama: Couple of things. Number one, I think it's important to get a national security team in place because transition periods are potentially times of vulnerability to a terrorist attack. We wanna make sure that there is as seamless a transition on national security as possible. Obviously the economy. Talking to top economic advisors about how we're gonna create jobs, how we get the economy back on track and what do we do in terms of some long-term issues like energy and healthcare. And how do we sequence those things in a way that we can actually get things through Congress?

Firstly, I was gratified to hear him mention national security first and the economy second. Everyone knows about the economic challenges, too many have forgotten about the threats to our national security.

Secondly, I wonder how the hard left is taking this. In the past, if Republicans ever talked about the possibility of terrorist attacks, the hard core left would accuse them of "scare-mongering" and indulging in the "politics of fear." Many of these same people refused to even to recognize that a threat existed, using quotes to refer to the so-called "War on Terror." Now, that President-elect Obama is talking about it, will they finally have to face up to reality?

I certainly hope so. One of the silver linings that I saw in Obama's victory is that it will no longer be possible to label the Global War on Terror, and the theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan as the "Bush war" or the "Republican war" or the "neo-con war." In reality, the war has always been America's no matter which party controlled the White House. Now that a Democrat has responsibility for successfully prosecuting it and protecting the country from attack, I hope that more Americans realize that it is our struggle, our war and support the measures necessary to see it through to victory. Just because George W. Bush will soon be gone, it doesn't mean our enemies will.

UPDATE: One other item to note from the interview is the coy little dance that Obama likes to do when the media tries to make historical comparsions between the challenges he faces and those faced by Lincoln and Roosevelt. On the one hand (to his credit), he seeks to downplay the comparisons by citing the differences in the circumstances:

Kroft: People are comparing this to 1932.

Mr. Obama: Right.

Kroft:Is that a valid comparison, do you think?

Mr. Obama: Well, keep in mind that 1932, 1933 the unemployment rate was 25 percent, inching up to 30 percent. You had a third of the country that was ill housed, ill clothed, unemployed. We're not going through something comparable to that. But I would say that this is as bad as we've seen since then. And if we don't take some significant steps then it could get worse.

But on the other, he makes reference to them often to ensure that the potential comparisons are never far from peoples' minds:

Mr. Obama: Yeah. I've been spending a lot of time reading Lincoln. There is a wisdom there and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful.

Kroft: Put a lot of his political enemies in his cabinet.

Mr. Obama: He did.

Kroft: Is that something you're considering?

Mr. Obama: Well, I tell you what, I find him a very wise man.

He's not so audacious as to suggest that he should be compared to Lincoln or FDR, but he's going to keep their names front and center if you happen to be looking for parallels.

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