Who is going to give the Democratic response to Obama's speech?
--ifthethunderdontgetya at wonkette
It's tempting to begin a discussion of the President's speech by noting that it followed tricky diplomatic bargaining with ABC, and balanced the nation's Right to Know with its Right Not To Have Dancin' With The Stars preempted. In fact, it's tempting to end the discussion there, too.
A White House spokesman, Joshua Earnest, sent a statement by email:
“The White House routinely works with the networks, as a group, in circumstances like these to find a time that’s respectful of both the networks and their audience – while ensuring that the President has the platform he needs to deliver an important message to the American people.”
Because if you think this is some facile, bench-jockey comment that's pre-empted by the dictates of "the real world", the one where the President "was forced to make a decision," then I've got a war for you. Another one, that is. If you miss out you'll have to wait 2.5 years on average for your next opportunity. Otherwise, we don't have anything to talk about. Sending US troops into battle is now less important than a fucking television show. *
Reasons are reasons, and excuses are excuses, and what the President offered were the latter, not that that's any surprise. For all the chatter about how despicable Gaddafi is, and how funny he dresses, and the sort of threats of door-to-door violence he was making...
(Which, by the way: surely there's enough money in it for some PR firm to school these guys, isn't there? I'm not looking for a kinder, gentler, more tele-friendly Ahmadinejad, or a better-dressed Kim Jong Il; I'd just like to know why the tenth-rate international shitheels we decide to pick on routinely talk like teenaged spree killers on Facebook. Maybe they really do, maybe it's something in the translation; at any rate, it sure is convenient for everybody. And despite my relative disrespect for the ability of the US--I mean global allied coalition--to conduct and maintain a successful ground invasion outside the Carribbean, I would not personally be tempting it--them--to bomb the shit out of me. That they're fairly good at, if by "good" we mean "able to do something similar for an indefinite period".)
those are excuses; the reasons are 1) oil; 2) oil; and 3) because we can.
This is not 1950, or 1956, or 1961. All the blather about whether or not we can make a moral case for raining tons of metal from the sky on this pissant du jour is just that. We can't. Or rather, we could, but we decided to trade the moral high ground in for global economic hegemony and military-industrial complexifying sixty years ago. If you don't like the fact that there's an immediate, and powerful, counter-argument to any publicly-acknowledged bombing campaign in the name of Good, take it up with Harry Truman.
This is not a tricky moral dilemma we find ourselves in because we're a Leader, Mr. President. It's the sort of tricky moral dilemma we find ourselves in because we insist on being the sort of Leader who bombs the shit out of people so we can prove we're a Leader. Just as we sometimes find ourselves with (Democratic) Presidents who are forced to prove their leadership by standing to the right of Curtis LeMay. I know that's not an answer, exactly, but then I'm not the guy who's suggesting he has 'em. I have no idea who the Libyan rebels are. I suspect you don't know much more than I. I don't believe the fact that they opposed Gaddafi puts 'em on the side of the angels, and I don't believe that the fact that Gaddafi was able to respond with force makes them martyrs. It may just make them impatient and overly simple. I do know something of our track record in such matters.
And I know I probably shouldn't have to explain this to you, Mr. President, but then again it did happen before the Reagan administration: Nobody bombed the Alabama State Police to even up the battle for Civil Rights in this country.
Y'know, Mr. President, if bombing Libya was the right thing to do--and I'm going to leave off the question of whether that means we should be bombing Yemen, Tunisia, Syria, and Bahrain, since we all know the real answer--then it's the right thing to do without the same sorts of arguments about why we were doing the right thing in Vietnam, or Iraq, or Afghanistan (and not Budapest, or Prague, or Tiananmen). And there were good arguments for why Britain and France could've done the job themselves if they were so fucking gung ho. They may be right, or wrong, or something other than black and white, but they are, clearly, our cover story of the past six decades, and our cover was long since blown. I didn't expect you'd get though a term without starting a new war or escalating an old one. I did think that maybe, maybe, we'd hear some justification that approached thoughtful. Or at least that avoided business as usual.
* And it's been that way for thirty-five years, at least. The difference is that now we can't even pretend it's any different.