Three Pundits on President Obama’s 2014 West Point Address: some thoughts by Political Observer, part 2

It’s seems as if Mr. Beinart has not read very carefully the President’s May 28, 2014 address, nor it’s precursor, the speech of December 1, 2009, both delivered at West Point. Or more pointedly he reads them ideologically, with his re-imagined Eisenhower as central rhetorical actor. The themes of the 2009 and 2014 speeches reflect many of the same points, only the passage of time and events separate them. In both speeches the President clearly demonstrates that he is a captive to his own faith in the notion and practice of American exceptionalism, and all that that entails in policy terms. The President simply commits to a more modest version of that pernicious idea.

Drone warfare and it’s inevitable ‘collateral damage’. (One wonders, is the President haunted by these deaths, these wounds? One is tempted to speculate, that Lincoln’s very real grief and anguish are of rhetorical use to Obama’s speech writers, to be cynical.) Mr. Beinart never considers that a question worthy of pondering. (The conflict between moral questions and policy questions express an American schizophrenia- policy thinkers conceive themselves as above or outside morality.) The full scale war that mesmerize and infatuate the jingos, the political romantics of both Parties in our midst, is rendered moot in the measured, deliberate political rationalism of the President? It’s interesting that in their search for a model of a prudent and rational leadership, Neo-Liberals like Mr. Beinart, resort to Eisenhower, he being the last rational Republican? Mr. B.’s exercise in political nostalgia for that re-imagined political hero of our past dominates the essay, in fact Obama and his policy ideas and practices is lost in the fog of that nostalgia ….. he engages more with his own literary self-creation than with the readily available evidence: the addresses of 2009 and 2014.

Mr. B. constructs a politically self-serving narrative of the American jingo position on postwar American policy debates, yet he constructs almost it’s mirror image with the political rationalism of his Eisenhower/Obama construct. Just to add balance to Mr. B.’s historical reconstruction: Eisenhower made alliance with Nixon and the Dulles brothers, the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état as mentioned as a one word answer to Mr. B.’s essay, in the comments section of this essay. There are myriad examples!

Perhaps, this essay is meant as a rejoinder to the David Frum essay that was also published on the Atlantic Magazine website?

Political Observer

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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