Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Give peace a chance? In Washington too?

The 24/7 strategists on CNN coyly put it as question. Republican cliff dwellers in Congress frame it as a complaint. Wall Street money managers will be screaming it: when is President Obama going to negotiate on the debt ceiling? 

The calculator-who-calculates-forever missed his chance to make war in Syria. When will he make the same mistake in Washington and quietly let his enemies sue for peace — without risking their political lives?

From Peggy Noonan to The Economist, Barack Obama has been scorned for his lack of élan in the Middle East. For his reluctance to spill blood on his "red line" on the use of chemical weapons and his willingness to let the new leadership in Iran trim their belligerent rhetoric without calling them losers and, thereby, increasing their political problems with their touchy Tea Party base in Tehran.

That was last month, they insist. This month — better still, tomorrow — Obama must practice soft-diplomacy in Washington. He can’t carry on as the only adult in the room. Our divided government needs adult majorities in Congress too!

It must be tempting for Democrats to let radical conservatives stew in their own psychobabble about the fussy trimmer in the White House. Nevertheless, Obama must know that Americans are just as tired of warrior rhetoric in Washington as they are of wars abroad.

There are no honeymoons for war right now — or for another showdown in Washington. As elsewhere in the world, American liberal preferences usually win at home when America and its government is at peace.

It’s delusional partisan rhetoric for Democrats to say that Republicans are anti-government. Thirty Republican Governors tax and spend and share those basic public responsibilities in Washington. Next year, they’ll scramble to keep the offices they hold and will start looking for an electable candidate for the Presidential election of 2016.

Republicans are no more anti-politics than Democrats are anti-American. And they won’t be chased out of Washington.

The surest way for Democrats to win next year, and again in 2016, is to keep making those tacky compromises that got America out of recession and made universal healthcare finally a work in progress.

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