Thursday, September 5, 2013

Benching Uncle Sam? ... Let's Not Do That

A great editorial appears in today's Wall Street Journal. At least I believe it's great and for that reason want to share it with you in its entirety. Please read and reflect on the larger meaning associated with Syria and our role in the world, including our nation's prosperity and peace.

The editorial is all about whether as a nation of equals we're ready to throw in the towel and bench Uncle Sam or instead decide to fight for the America We the People have been blessed to receive from those who came before us.

The Benching of Uncle Sam says this:

"David Axelrod on Saturday gave his opinion on the situation in Syria with a tweet on Twitter: "Congress is now the dog that caught the car." On Wednesday, the president of the United States retweeted Mr. Axelrod's 43-character analysis. He said in Stockholm that the credibility at stake in the decision on Syria isn't his. Instead, it is "America's," and "Congress's credibility," and the "international community's credibility." Mr. Obama looks like the dog who ran away from the car.

The purpose of Mr. Obama's fantastic statements Wednesday could not be more obvious: He is trying to drive the Republicans into a "no" vote on the Syria resolution. He is shirking presidential responsibility for the U.S.'s role in the world. He doesn't want that responsibility.

The GOP should not be a party to this abdication. It should vote for a resolution authorizing Mr. Obama to act militarily in Syria. After that bipartisan vote, it will be Barack Obama who caught the presidency.

With the presidency comes the job of commander in chief. He never wanted that job. He wanted to let the U.S.'s global status decline while he dallied at home with windmills, college rankings and health data.

Now he has to step up. An authorization vote on a discrete world crisis will force the inconstant Mr. Obama to focus and think about the world with the seriousness it requires from the president of the United States.

Republicans should support an authorization on Syria for the same reason they are opposing him on ObamaCare: to stop America's decline. Whether by design or incompetence, Barack Obama's policies are putting in motion a historic American reversal at home and abroad.

If this were September 2015, it wouldn't matter. But we are little more than eight months into Mr. Obama's second four years. A responsible and loyal opposition would recognize that it is not in the interests of the U.S., or the world, to have an irreparably damaged U.S. president this early in his second term.

Americans, including those in Congress, wake up every day to a country that was handed to them by earlier generations of Americans after World War II. The United States had become the world's pre-eminent nation. Great nations, however, are not like planets passing through the sky in fixed orbits. They can drop.

Republicans understand the dangers of domestic economic decline. That is why they are opposing this president on ObamaCare, spending and the national debt.

Growth in the Obama years has hovered around 2%, way off the century-long average of 3.3% that produced abundance and prosperity for the U.S. Signs of economic revival have begun to appear, but the Obama economic agenda is a structural impediment to the sustained, higher growth rates that produced the American Century.

A less prosperous America is acceptable to Barack Obama and his progressive supporters, who have convinced themselves that the distribution of wealth in the U.S. since its founding has been "unjust." If public policy can forcibly redistribute U.S. wealth, a lower level of economic growth is acceptable. Relative to America's achievement, this will be decline.

What is unique about the Obama presidency is that American decline as a world power won't, as with Europe, be the unhappy result of wealth redistribution. It is part of Mr. Obama's agenda. In future crises, Mr. Obama said in his 2009 Cairo speech and elsewhere, the U.S. would act only after building "international consensus," which meant the United Nations or the faded European allies. An Obama aide called this "leading from behind." That is what the U.S. did in Libya. This partnership-of-equals policy was the basis for the failed Russian reset.

In short, Barack Obama's view of the U.S. role in the world is that the time has come to bench Uncle Sam.

The end of what they call "the American imperium" is a policy goal progressive activists have sought for decades. If Republicans vote to defeat a resolution on using military power against Assad, whose victory may let Iran and Russia achieve hegemony in the Middle East, it will be a vote to take Uncle Sam out of the world power game.

That will give Barack Obama a reason to proceed with the downsizing of America at home and in the world for the rest of his term. The depressed GOP hawks on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who voted on Wednesday against authorization are merely enabling this outcome.

This will put the U.S. in a very bad place. Those who think their president can begin reversing all this in 2017 are dreaming. A sinking world power is the heaviest lift imaginable. Ask Winston Churchill.

Legitimate questions exist about a Syria resolution—about goals, means and the status of the opposition forces—and they should be addressed. But that's not the issue being raised here. The American decline put in motion under this presidency is real, not speculative. We are not at the edge of the cliff, but in September 2013 we are at a serious inflection point.

As they vote, the Republicans in Congress should make clear that they understand the historic stakes. The American people, who the last time I looked weren't interested in throwing in the towel, will appreciate hearing something that sounds like leadership."

Summing Up

Politics sucks.

Leadership isn't about popularity.

Politics is all about popularity and getting elected and then re-elected.

That's why politics sucks.

And that's why we can't tolerate much more of business as usual by our elected "public servants."

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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