Culture

The Most Merciful Way to Wage Warfare

Um... stinkburger, er... meanwich

Um… stinkburger, er… meanwich

Now we know why our Punahou-educated president feels so comfortable in a kindergarten classroom:

President Obama compared the Republican budget plan to a “stinkburger” or “meanwich” during a speech here Wednesday, using a series of zingers in an attempt to strike a contrast with the GOP on economic issues in an election year.

In a speech to an enthusiastic crowd of 1,400 at the University of Michigan, Obama repeatedly mocked Republican ideas about how to improve the economy, as he touted his own proposal to raise the minimum wage.

Obama, who visited the local Zingerman’s deli before the speech, said that Republican proposals to cut taxes for wealthier Americans and federal investments in education, as well as replace his federal health-care program, would harm the economy.

The GOP has proposed the same ideas so many times, Obama said, “It’s like that movie ‘Groundhog Day,’ except it’s not funny. If they tried to sell this sandwich at Zingerman’s, they’d have to call it the stinkburger or the meanwich.”

Hard to know where to begin with one. The uncritical use by the reporter of the term “federal investments”? A “crowd” of 1,400? A “series of zingers” from the Commander in Chief? “Mockery” from the bully pulpit? Can it be that Obama really doesn’t listen to himself, weigh his words, or respect what, pre-Clinton, we used to laughingly call the “dignity of the office”? Surely somebody wrote those lines for him; this is, after all, a man whose forays off-prompter often end in disaster:

More likely, he simply doesn’t care. His glide path to the presidency has been marked by one thing in particular: no one has ever said “no” to him about anything. He went to one of the most exclusive (and, if you’re into racial bean-counting, whitest) private prep school in Hawaii, then skated through Occidental, Columbia and Harvard while leaving nary a mark or a memory. More than five long years into the Obama presidency, it’s clear that his sense of the job is entirely confined to its ceremonial aspects — parties, vacations, junkets — and to campaigning, which is the only thing he’s any good at.

And yet, to this we’ve come: a country in which style trumps substance, to the cheers of the media. And does Obama ever have style: from the moment he delivered his famous speech at the 2004 Democrat convention as an obscure state senator running for the U.S. Senate, I knew he would be the party’s next nominee, and that he would probably win. The only thing that might have blocked his ascension was Sarah Palin, and once the media recovered from the shock of her nomination and acceptance speech, their knives bloodied her badly — with John McCain, of course, doing nothing to defend her. Indeed, I parodied the reaction in my viral NRO piece, “I Hate You, Sarah Palin“:

But she’s not a Democrat, which despite her va-va-va-voom appearance, means she’s not really a woman, which is one of the reasons we’ve spent the past four days since McCain unveiled her trying to tear her limb from limb. Just because she’s the governor of a state sandwiched between two obscure and unimportant countries, Canada and Russia, and spent more time in her first five minutes visiting American troops in Iraq than Evita Barry did during his entire Rainbow Tour, what could she possibly know about foreign policy? It’s not like she’s John Edwards or something.

So that’s why we’re having our Wellstone Funeral Moment at the moment. We mean well; we promised ourselves we wouldn’t go over the top with our outright loathing of the Neanderthals who preach “Christian” values while practicing Wiccanism and child sacrifice and who hate black people and gay people and want to destroy the environment just because they can, and want to amass more money than even John Kerry or Jon Corzine or Herb Kohl or Jay Rockefeller or Dianne Feinstein — the five richest senators — or Ted Kennedy or John Edwards or Nancy Pelosi have. That, usually, is the Kos Kidz’s job. Along with speculating exactly how Bush got from My Pet Goat to planting the depth charges that blew up the levees in New Orleans.

But sometimes the mask slips and you can see — whoops! — how much we hate you. Normally we’re against hate in all its forms, and embrace tolerance as one of our defining moral attributes. But when it comes to you conservatives, well, with the best will in the world, we just can’t tolerate you. You’re elitist, you’re judgmental, you’re hypocritical, and we know that deep down you hate us even more than we hate you. Therefore, by any means necessary, we will defeat you this fall. Voter fraud, “walking around” money, legions of lawyers, as many recounts as it takes — bring it on!

So why we should be surprised at “stinkburger”? As Lucianne.com drily noted on its post this morning, What next? Republicans are “poopyheads”?

For a look at what a real president looks like, please turn the page.

Unconditional Surrender

Unconditional Surrender

The Weekly Standard has a timely piece out today, commemorating the 150th anniversary of Ulysses S. Grant’s appointment by President Lincoln to command the Union armies; as the story by Geoffrey Norman notes, Grant was only the third man in American history to attain the rank of Lieutenant General (three stars), after George Washington and (a brevet commission) Winfield Scott:

 He arrived without ceremony. No pomp, no pageantry. It was as far in spirit from Caesar’s entry into Rome as it could possibly have been. He had come to Washington to be made only the third lieutenant general in the nation’s history (George Washington and Winfield Scott were the others) and to assume command of all the Union armies and, consequently, the direction of the war from Texas to Virginia. He was being asked—commanded, actually—by civilian leadership to save the Republic…

Grant may not have come face to face with Lee, but he had learned, much earlier in the war, not to worry too much about the man on the other side of the hill, whoever he was. That man was sure to have his own problems. He learned this lesson after his first action in the war and recalled that the enemy commander “had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him .  .  . a view of the question I had never taken before but it was one I never forgot afterwards. .  .  . Even to the close of the war, I never experienced trepidation upon confronting an enemy, though I always felt more or less anxiety. I never forgot that he had as much reason to fear my forces as I had his.” The lesson was valuable.

Stonewall Jackson had once said much the same thing, in fewer words, to an excited subordinate: “Do not take counsel of your fears.”

The Republic was finally saved when Lincoln found Grant, the one man besides himself who understood that if the Union was to be preserved, then the only way to attain that end was through complete and total victory. Which led to the total warfare practiced by Grant and his able deputy, Sherman. The most merciful way to wage warfare is overwhelmingly, until the opponent’s means and will to fight are broken; the only acceptable exit strategy is the unconditional surrender of the enemy. Assuming that you can actually bring yourself to name the enemy and treat him as such.

There was a time when the U.S. used to fight that way, culminating in the total victory of World War II over the Germans (with considerable Russian help) and the Japanese. In the 73 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor, however, that lesson, so hard won, has been largely forgotten. The bogus “virtue” of compassion and the military insanity of “proportionate response” have been allowed to infect command decision-making, with the sorry result that the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan were allowed to drag on for a decade or more, to no good result. Vietnam was lost the day Congress pulled the plug on the South Vietnamese during the weak Ford Administration, and as for Iraq — left unfinished by Bush I, needlessly re-prosecuted by Bush II and botched by Obama — and Afghanistan, the less said the better. So much heroism to so little effect. Grant would have known how to finish all three of those wars, and saved countless American and foreign lives in the process.

The only stinkburger I can smell is the one wafting westward from Congress and the White House., and we’ll be enjoying the aroma for a long time to come.

*****

Cross-posted from Unexamined Premises