“Liberals are weak on foreign policy, soft on terrorists, and simply not tough enough to defend America’s interests.”
It’s no stretch to say this is the conventional wisdom of most conservatives in the U.S. (maybe of a lot of moderates too.) By contrast, the Republican party is firm and strong. Why do people think this? The President talks tough and says “Bring ‘em on”; Republicans don’t wait for an invitation from the U.N. before attacking bad guys; and the administration sanctions torture if that’s what it takes to “get the job done.”
The failures of that kind of foreign policy – heavy on bluster and light on results – is widely documented elsewhere. But today revealed the utter emptiness of the Republican toughness brand.
President Bush traveled to Saudi Arabia to ask its king to increase oil production so that Americans can continue paying low prices for their low-mileage fleet of vehicles.
“Eight years of tough talk and short-sighted policies gave the President exactly zero leverage on his mission abroad.”
It’s a sad image, one I’m surprised more conservatives aren’t ashamed of – the President of the United States, standing hat in hand before the authoritarian ruler of the country which bred Bin Laden and his 15 highjackers. (I’m sure the right-wing radio hosts would muster plenty of outrage if that President were a Democrat.)
King Abdullah said no to President Bush, for the second time in five months.
Speaking loudly and waving a big stick around was supposed to make the world roll over to U.S. demands. How come now we can’t get one of our best friends to help us out a teeny bit?
In his 2006 State of the Union address the President declared that the U.S. needs to kick its “addiction to oil.” Tough talk, but the President called only for more research. Even modest rules for, say, better automobile efficiency from Detroit carmakers would have gone a long way. But tough words, it seems, are reserved for foreign leaders; when it comes to domestic CEO’s, President Bush is afraid to rock the boat.
And what about all those loud promises to do what it takes to “defend America?” Many of history’s great powers fell not because they were attacked at the height of their strength but because they were bled dry first, by costly military campaigns to maintain colonies or to expand empire. There’s little doubt the President would mobilize the National Guard if a military asset like an army base came under attack, but as economic assets flow overseas faster and faster, feeding an expensive war and the coffers of corrupt dictators, the Commander in Chief seems to be waiting for Paul Revere.
The President loudly repeats that the U.S. will act alone, if necessary, to defend its interests. Only soft-headed liberals surrender America’s sovereignty. But his lack of leadership on clean energy means that today the country is still utterly dependent on oil and the regimes that supply most of it, including Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. We all celebrate independence from a British monarchy, but few conservatives seem to care that America is beholden to a Middle-Eastern one.
The good times are rolling for the Saudi royals, just as they’re rolling for U.S. oil executives. But the President is suffering from the highest disapproval ratings in modern history. Eight years of tough talk and short-sighted policies gave the President exactly zero leverage on his mission abroad.
No matter. In politics, perception is more important than reality. Another big news item this week concerned remarks from the President and John McCain likening Democrats’ policies to appeasing Hitler.
Seems you can still get great mileage out of talkin’ tough.