Can America Win The War? Yes, We Can!
McCain, Obama and the Optimism Gap
By Dan McLaughlin Posted in 2008 | Barack Obama | John McCain | Obamafiles — Comments (44) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
One of Barack Obama's greatest assets has been his appeal to the idealism of young voters and the frustration of grownups disenchanted with the dysfuctional ways of Washington - when prudence and experience says something can't or shouldn't be done, or would have awful unintended consequences, Obama's the guy who says "Yes we can!" Can-do optimism is always popular, and people have come to identify Obama with the ability to eliminate All Things Bad.
But the more we see of Obama, the more cracks we see in the facade of that optimism. A new poll from Rasmussen suggests one of the clearest divides between John McCain and Obama:
If John McCain is elected President, 49% of voters say it is at least somewhat likely that the United States will win the War in Iraq. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 20% believe victory in Iraq is likely if Barack Obama is elected in November.
There are very few things the United States government has done more consistently well throughout its history than win wars against our enemies. It's the most basic, traditional function of government - yet the public recognizes that Obama lacks faith that we can win, whereas McCain has proposed a positive vision of victory by the end of his first term. Which is why I think the following would be a guaranteed applause line for McCain on the stump:
Can America win the war against its radical Islamist enemies?
Yes we can!
Can we finish the job our troops have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to do in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Yes we can!
So tell me - why is it that Senator Obama suddenly runs out of hope and optimism when it comes to fighting our enemies?
But the war isn't the only area where Obama's decided lack of confidence in the traditional functions of our government and the dynamism of our economy leads him down the path of pessimism and a cramped view of the future of American liberty.
The most eye-poppingly Carterish of these was Obama's recent declaration that
"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times . . . and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK."
Yes, we can! Obama suffers from a failure of faith in American markets and American liberty, the very same lack of faith that gave us Jimmy Carter and malaise the first time around.
Smaller examples abound, and McCain should exploit them to reveal the hollowness of Obama's claims to can-do optimism. McCain believes that American business can compete with all comers; Obama thinks we can't, so he wants to tear up NAFTA. McCain thinks that school choice can open up new opportunities for children in bad schools; Obama says this:
"If there was any argument for vouchers, it was 'Alright, let's see if this experiment works,' and if it does, then whatever my preconceptions, my attitude is you do what works for the kids," the senator said. "I will not allow my predispositions to stand in the way of making sure that our kids can learn. We're losing several generations of kids and something has to be done."
But when it comes to actually taking the step of trying an "experiment" he admits might work, he's proud to say "no, we can't." McCain has caught all sorts of grief for his support for comprehensive immigration reform, but at least McCain thinks we can solve the border security problem once and for all; Obama was willing to give up on any solution and provide driver's licenses and federally funded health care to illegal aliens. Can we enforce our own laws? No, we can't!
McCain and Obama both believe that there are things we can do and things we can't. The difference is that the things McCain has faith in are the tried-and-tested things that have worked in the past - the valor of our fighting men, the industry of our people. Those are the very things Obama lacks faith in. McCain should call him on that lack of faith.
Credit to absentee for the Obama photo.