Rightwingers are up in arms over Senator Obama’s comments that the threat from Iran is “minuscule” (compared to Cold War Russia; an aspect of the Democratic candidate’s comments that seem to get sort of filtered out in the tirades). With grim determination, they and their candidate are struggling to maintain that the neoconservative approach to foreign policy is the only serious approach out there, anything to the contrary is little more than liberal nonsense that will get us all killed.
But Obama, as Oliver Willis points out, simply refuses to let a slight against him go unanswered; pointing out, like my friend Cernig, that Iran is minuscule as a threat compared to Cold War Russia which had the ability to wipe us off the face of the planet in a glass parking lot making fit of mutually assured destruction.
There is something great at work here though that is only visible around the edges of the ongoing debate between McCain and Obama on foreign policy. Simply put, Obama refuses to cede the “serious” mantle to the neocons. He is refusing to let McCain define what is and is not good foreign policy.
This is more than a breath of fresh air when you consider the fact that for much of the Bush administration, and for longer than that, actually, Republicans have made their stock in trade on making Democrats look weak and stupid on foreign policy. And Democrats, until recently, have been all too willing to let them.
For instance, for all the good ideas that Kerry put forth on fighting terrorism and providing an alternative perspective on foreign policy, when push came to shove, Kerry fell into the trap laid out before him. Bush defined foreign policy in the 2004 election in such a way that only a tough guy, also defined by Bush, could be president.
By contrast, Obama is taking McCain head on, and he’s doing it on his terms as opposed to trying to prove to people, “Hey, I can be a tough guy, too.” He’s actually fighting for the alternative instead of ceding the “serious” mantle to the warmongering class.
Even better, he’s not only refusing to be made to look like a coward, but he’s redirecting that very same charge back towards Bush/McCain. Considering that I have long been dismayed at the irony that an entire foreign policy movement that is willing to cede civil liberties for a modicum of safety (not even a modicum of security when you stop to think that the threat of global terrorism has only increased as a result of Bush’s anti-terrorism foreign policies) has the gall to call other people cowards, such a repudiation of the neoconservative ideology, and the tactics to deploy said ideology, is more than a welcome sight.
Obama is offering the alternative, and he’s not only sticking to it, but he’s fighting for it, and using it as a weapon. This should provide for a VERY interesting general election.
More at Memeorandum: The Caucus, The Campaign Spot, JustOneMinute, Agence France Presse, protein wisdom, The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room, Israpundit, Redstate, Don Surber, Atlas Shrugs, Wake up America, Macsmind, PoliBlog (TM), American Power and Newshoggers.com. The Daily Dish, Blue Girl, Red State, The Carpetbagger Report, Talking Points Memo, Donklephant and Oliver Willis