Leading From Bankruptcy
This morning it was Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson. It could have been most any other Republican Senator or House Member for that matter, They all use the same talking points and they all totally miss the glaring hole in their arguments. This time, “leading from behind” was the battle cry.
Unlike former President George W Bush (and his Bismark, Dick Cheney), President Obama has been careful in avoiding new engagements. (President Obama probably could have done a much better job getting out of Afghanistan but that’s another story.) Yet, many Republicans attempt to diminish the President’s record with a derisive “he leads from behind” as if implying that “W’s” turn at the helm was brilliant and successful.
Of course we could write these Republican comments off as simply political rhetoric. We could except for the “leading from behind” segways into “we should arm the good insurgents” and “there’s no leadership in cutting the budget”. What are they thinking when they say “good insurgents”? And where do they think the money is going to come from to keep US forces engaged around the world?
Arguably, President Obama’s reluctance to engage the US in another Middle East squabble is brilliant. He is keeping the US “powder” dry until such time as it is really needed (like if Iran were to attack Israel). President Obama is also saying to European powers, ‘the free ride is over… if you want Middle East oil, you need to participate meaningfully”.
The “cut government spending” rant is where these Republicans get really twisted. The statement itself is not the problem. The US certainly has to learn how to live on far closer to a balanced budget. The “catch” is two fold. First, there is huge hypocrisy in championing war while demanding cuts to the social network. Second, it is simply cruel to urge government expenditures on Medicare and Medicaid be cut in favor of an increased Defense budget while the elephant in the room (easy for everyone to see) is that health care for all Americans costs too much (twice other modern countries).
Were Republicans to change their tune and strongly recommend total health care reform emulating other countries who spend far less than the US and obtain equal or better outcomes, the Republican message of leading out front would have a ring of credibility.
The politicians may be trying to appear bold and decisive (although there is no evidence they would know how to lead from the front). In fact what they are recommending is leading from bankruptcy.