Congratulations, Mr. President: Chapter 2 of My Quadrennial Search for Silver Linings

Whether it's Bush or Obama, if he is not your president, then you are not my countryman

Congratulations, Mr. President.  I voted for the other guy, but I wish you well — and if you had to win, I’m deeply relieved that Florida doesn’t matter this time.

Once again, you’ve inherited a mess from your predecessor.  This time, you won’t be able to get as much mileage from blaming him.  One of the beauties of our two-party system is that eventually, both parties end up sharing the responsibility for every major issue.

Unlike some of your critics, I don’t think your re-election is a disaster.  Even though you’ll continue to be the most powerful person in the world, you are not powerful enough to inflict serious long-term damage on America.  We survived Nixon’s thuggery, Carter’s ineptitude and Clinton’s reckless sexual predation, and we’ll survive Obamacare and anything else you may throw at us.

To me, Obamacare was the most important reason to defeat you.  The day before the election, Christopher DeMuth described the stakes as he saw them:

On Tuesday, Americans will go to the polls to choose whether or not to nationalize their health-care system. …

If President Barack Obama is re-elected, ObamaCare’s controls over doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical firms and other providers of medical care will be tightened, and the operations of private insurance companies will be progressively restricted. Everyone involved will know where the process is going—to a single-payer system or one with a few chosen insurers subject to national public-utility controls—and will negotiate the best possible accommodations to it. Within a few years, a new political equilibrium will be in place, making the system irreversible and subject to only marginal adjustment.

The Heritage Foundation has a helpful Obamacare tax chart -- click for more details

Well, maybe.  I sure wish we had elected a Republican president and enough Republican senators to overturn Obamacare altogether, but we did not.  However, opposition to socialized healthcare is not going to go away. When the tax increases start kicking in a few weeks from now, you may find that your predecessor has bequeathed you a healthcare system so deeply unpopular that you may not be able to enforce party discipline to protect it.

I’m also not overly worried about continuing to entrust you with our national security — although again, I would have preferred the other guy as commander-in-chief.  Despite the ridiculous Nobel Peace Prize, you’ve steered well clear of the moral bankruptcy of pacifism.  To your credit, you green-lighted the risky takedown of Osama bin Laden, rather than taking the safer route of a Predator missile — and you’ve used those Predators to take out thousands of enemy combatants.  You retained Bush’s defense secretary and his strategy for Iraq, and mimicked his surge in Afghanistan.

Heck, you even started a totally unnecessary war in Libya, where we had no national interests at stake.  I don’t want to encourage unnecessary wars, but at least this one got rid of a very bad man, and up until Benghazi it seemed to be turning out all right.  Your administration’s inattention to a deteriorating situation cost four brave men their lives in Benghazi.  But at the risk of sounding flip, all presidents make mistakes that get brave people killed.

If America never uses its military strength, then all that money spent on defense truly is wasted.  On balance I think your Libya adventure was probably unwise, but I like my presidents to have a bias toward action in the face of evil people.  When, not if, the war with Iran enters its kinetic phase, I’m confident now (as I was not in 2008) that you will not preemptively surrender.  And despite your occasionally shoddy treatment of our ally Israel, I have no doubt which side you’ll take.  Even during the crucible of the final weeks of the campaign, you’ve already started laying the ground work for war, through joint exercises with Israel and by condoning Israel’s attack on a weapons plant in Sudan.

You have a tough job ahead of you, Mr. President.  So did your predecessor.  However wrong-headed some of your policies may be, I believe you to be a good and decent family man, a person of substance, and a person dedicated to doing what you believe is right for America. I can’t find the link now, but to paraphrase another voice on the right: The fact that our political system has given us a choice of two such candidates is a testament to the enduring strength of America.

Good luck, Mr. President, and may God watch over you and those you serve.

5 thoughts on “Congratulations, Mr. President: Chapter 2 of My Quadrennial Search for Silver Linings

  1. As best as I have read on Benghazi, they and other embassies applied for more security and didn’t receive it from Congress, but that is not unroutine or to be faulted on its face. That is not the administration anyway. The administration responded to any emergency needs funneled to them from CIA, and CIA had personnel on-site, and once the calls came out, personnel responded. The nearness of CIA response is in question, but that is not the administration. Embassies are not hardened targets, that was a valid risk assessment. However there was a focused attack by terrorists in a generally friendly new country. You can’t put a Marine company in every embassy in the world, and the people evaluating these sitches are better than you or I. There are risks and new targets apparent in Marine companies, such as the Marines in Lebanon. Unless you have other evidence.

    • dano, Congress has nothing to do with this — and much of the news media has not WANTED to have anything to do with it, ceding the story to the conservative media and blogs. Here is Victor Davis Hanson summarizing the unanswered questions of Benghazi:

      “We were beginning to sense that the crime of Benghazi (not listening to pre-attack requests for increased security; not sending help immediately from the annex to the besieged consulate; not rushing in additional military forces during the hours-long attack) and the cover-up (inventing the video narrative of a spontaneous demonstration gone wild to support a pre-election administration narrative of an impotent al-Qaeda, a successful Libya, a positive Arab Spring, and a cool, competent Commander in Chief, slayer of bin Laden, and architect of momentous Middle East change) were not the entire story of the 9/11/2012 attack: Why was there a consulate at all in Benghazi, given that most nations have shut down their main embassies in Tripoli? Why was there such a large CIA contingent nearby — what were they doing and why and for whom? Why did the ambassador think he needed more security when so many CIA operatives were stationed just minutes away? What was the exact security relationship between the annex and the consulate, and why the apparent quiet about it? Who exactly were the terrorist hit-teams, and did they have a particular agenda, and, if so, what and for whom? All these questions had not been answered and probably would have been raised during the scheduled Petraeus testimony — which is apparently now canceled, but why that is so, no one quite knows.” – http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/333145/down-olympus-victor-davis-hanson

  2. Nice post Kirk and appreciate the sentiments.

    I’m sure it won’t make you feel much better to hear that Obama is a really lousy socialist and that Obamacare is just an incremental (but important) tweak to the existing patchwork system of private insurance coverage through employers for most of us, Medicare for older folks, Medicaid for poorer folks, and mandating some type of private coverage for those currently falling through the cracks. A few more committees to bring some consistency to decision making here and there, but you’re much more likely to remain at the mercy of Cigna/Aetna/ UnitedHealthcare than “government panels” under Obamacare.

    Had we actually achieved single payer health care, the holy grail of a lot of those who would like to redesigning the health system, or even the intermediate step of covering the currently uninsured through the Medicare program, those concerned about “socialized medicine” would at least have something legitimate to be concerned about (from their perspective). Instead we have the great irony of the face-off of Romney vs. Obama, which is that Obamacare is a repackaging of Romneycare in MA, and doesn’t involve much socializing of medical practice at all. I do understand some are against the mandate to purchase coverage as well but that is a different issue.

    • Hi Priscilla! Your comment got stuck in my spam filter for some reason, and I didn’t even get notified it was there, I found it only by chance. Sorry about that, and thanks for commenting.

      I agree that single-payer has always been the ultimate objective of the Left (or of the Democrats, or however you want to frame it). I think moving in that direction is a mistake, whereas it sounds like you favor it. Fair enough; it’s a debate worth having, and let the larger coalition win. What angers me and many others is that even though Obamacare is only one step in that direction, I don’t think it should be imposed on an unwilling public through shady parliamentary maneuvers and 1 a.m. votes, in a package too radical to attract a single Republican vote. For a reminder of what I’m talking about, see http://blog.kirkpetersen.net/2009/12/a-disgraceful-vote-for-reform-in-the-middle-of-the-night.html

      Because of Romneycare, the Romney campaign was hampered in its ability to make the anti-Obamacare case. But Romneycare at least had bipartisan support — passed by a Democratic legislature and signed by a Republican governor. And if we’re going to experiment with the fundamentals of something as important as the health care economy, I’d rather do it at the state level than the federal.

  3. Kirk, by the source and the nature of the article, this wasn’t exactly research journalism. It’s an unsubstantiated attack from its language (“coverup”). I guess we’ll wait for the hearings. I’m trying to be fair unlike this guy and I would allow that even though Congress didn’t approve additional security money for the embassies, that if the professionals in charge felt the security was adequate, it was not a mistake but an inherent risk and a terrorist attack against a non-hardened target, and we’ll learn something for next time. U would think that in managing the message, that the Obamans would have tried to be transparent, knowing how a coverup could explode pre-election. Certainly they have never been like the Bushies on that score.

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