At Commentary’s blog, John Podhoretz speaks of President Obama’s use of fear. In his speech today, Obama said, “Our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight.” This will stick in a lot of conservative craws, I suspect.
And I was reminded of President Carter’s speech — his commencement address at Notre Dame in 1977. It’s funny, but I had just written about that speech, because of the controversy surrounding Obama’s address at Notre Dame on Sunday.
What Carter said was not so bad: “Democracy’s great recent successes — in India, Portugal, Spain, Greece — show that our confidence in this system is not misplaced. Being confident of our own future, we are now free of that inordinate fear of Communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear. I’m glad that that’s being changed.”
Okay. But “inordinate fear of Communism” stuck in a lot of conservative craws — and anti-Communist craws. As well it should have. Of course, it is always wrong to have “inordinate” anything, I suppose. But Carter implied, to many people, that we were all a bunch of silly geese, to be concerned about this evil dictatorship in Moscow whose empire and ideology covered a huge portion of the globe. (They would take more, too, all through the Carter presidency.)
And it seems that President Obama is considering us a bunch of silly geese now, to be on high alert against terrorists who pick off some dozens, hundreds, or thousands of us every now and then.
There are a lot of people in this pooh-poohing school. One of them is David Kilcullen, whose recent book The Accidental Guerrilla has been widely praised by conservatives — overpraised, in my opinion. The book is brilliant in some respects. I myself gave it a mainly positive review, in The New Criterion (here). But Kilcullen is one of those “You all overreacted, you silly geese” types. He is also of the type that says we are losing our soul, discarding our values and liberties, becoming monsters ourselves in the effort to stave off monsters.
That is the Obama-Kerry-New York Times school, and many conservatives belong to it, too. You? Me neither.