Monday, April 6, 2009

The Daily Strike-4/6/09-The Critics

Good evening and welcome to The Daily Strike. The President flies back to the United States tomorrow, but we've been holding down the fort just fine.

CRITICISM OF OBAMA ABROAD: There wasn't much going on today, so I'm going to rant for a bit. I try to avoid ranting on this blog, but once in awhile, I can't resist.

As President Obama wraps up his week-long trip to Europe, a chorus of right-wing ex-politicians and commentators have been leveling some pretty harsh and absurd criticism. The first thing these talking-point hungry vulchers pounced on was a quote Obama gave in Strousberg, talking about the US/European relationship. He noted that while Europe has shown anti-Americanism that has been at times "insidious," the United States has sometimes "shown arrogance" and has even been "dismissive and derisive" towards its transatlantic allies. Of course, the right-wing pounced on that second point, using every trick they have in the bag. Sean Hannity said he was tired of Obama "pandering to the worst instincts of those who hate our country." Karl Rove said that he should have made his point without "running down American." Former McCain flak Nicole Wallace said that Obama must not believe in "American exceptionalism" the way Republicans do.

The next cheap shot centered around Obama's decision to bow briefly to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Right-wing blogs had a field day, and commentator Frank Gaffney today on MSNBC said Obama's action amounted to "submission," as if Arabs are some sort of wild animal.

To top it off, we find out that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said yesterday that he thinks Obama's actions have made us "less safe." He points specifically to Obama's policy with terror detainees, and his apparent lack of reaction to the North Korean missile strike. As if Newt Gingrich's policy of retaliating against the North Koreans would have been a great idea!

I try not to let these (mostly irrelevant) people get to me, but for some reason it just really made me angry today. Can we not have an honest and analytical conversation about a complicated transcontinental relationship without someone pulling out the "hate America" card? Hannity even had to bring up Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers! Can we not make an innocent diplomatic gesture towards a country without being called submissive? Can we not take actions to help protect the rule of law that actually DO make American safer, without being told that we're jeopardizing our country's safety? I get tired of listening to children lobbing schoolyard taunts.

The President flies home tomorrow. Today, after speaking to the Turkish parliament (as we talked about in the Weekly Strike), the President met with Turkish and Armenian officials to try to normalize relations. That would be something.

GATES: Defense Secretary Gates made a major announcement outlining major changes in the Defense Department budget. The Bush administration holdover is calling for a "fundamental overhaul" of how the Pentagon spends its money. Among the proposed changes are:

-the elimination of the F22, a Cold War-era fighter jet that has not been used in Iraq and Afghanistan

-a decrease in active aircraft carriers, doing away with a new fleet of Presidential helicopters.

Gates said that the United States needs to focus on future threats and phase out weapons systems that were built for yesterday's wars. He also wisely called on Congress to put aside its parochial interests to consider what's in the best interest for the nation as a whole. It's not going to be easy. Many members of Congress will fight tooth and nail for these outdated programs. Many of them have factories that make F22's in their districts. Even more of them have received campaign contributions from military supply companies.

I was very pleased that Gates was willing to lay out such ambitious and politically risky plans. Even though I have disagreed with him the past, and I will disagree with him in the future, he has proven himself to be a very serious guy at the Defense Department.

That's it for tonight, see you tomorrow! Please leave us some comments, and make sure to read a great Big Picture entry below. Once again, the best comment will be featured on Friday's Daily Strike. How can you resist that honor?

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