The Foreign-Policy Advantages of Obama as Bush III

Coming Anarchy, Phatic Communion, Soob, Tom Barnett, Weekly Standard, and zenpundit have thematically similar posts that boil down to a a discussion of America’s relatively talentless political class.

This is a good thing.

The most ambitious should be in the business of creating wealth, not redistributing it. I trust the emergent qualities of a free market a lot more than I trust the best plans in the world as far as it comes to global growth and global betterment. On a large scale, the role of government is exception handling, and I want those exceptions handled as smoothly (which means with as little divergence from the global system) as possible.

We’ve had about nine years of this style of leadership now (from the Seattle Riots to the Bush Administration). An Obama administration promises to continue this. Obam as Bush III is my kind of Obama: a long way down from the politician I once thought he was, but much better than I think many critics give him credit for.

An Obama Presidency offers a reasonable hope in the Establishment: a vote for Obama is a vote for the status-quo. As the status-quo is one of the best in world history, that’s a solid argument.

As it relates to Obama, many commentators are now raising the hope that Obama will be bureaucratically captured in the same way that Petreaues and Gates were. Even better for us, Obama will have little operational control over what actually happens.

John McCain, on the other hand, pushes well thought out ideas, eve if they are politically unpopular. This is dangerous. We had a good original thinker with Bill Clinton. But before Clinton, the last major American figures who were smart and energetic when it comes to economics were also disasterous and downright anti-Constitutional.

Great men make great mistakes. Weak men go with the flow. Sometimes it’s better to go with the flow.

12 thoughts on “The Foreign-Policy Advantages of Obama as Bush III”

  1. Jay,

    The post is a fair analysis of Obama and McCain that reflects my interests.

    The central advantage of McCain over Obama is that he is right on more major issues than Obama is. [1] This is relatively straightforward and uninteresting. Once it’s established that Obama supports legal infanticide
    and McCain opposes it, there’s little left to be said.

    What is interesting is how Obama, if he really would be “Bush III,” not only makes up a lot of ground on the issues (removing Free Trade, Immigration, and Iraq from McCain’s column), but also avoids the pitfalls McCain might run into as a competent and energetic leader. This is fascinating to me, and so I write about it.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/04/06/why-i-support-john-mccain.html

  2. “As it relates to Obama, many commentators are now raising the hope that Obama will be bureaucratically captured in the same way that Petreaues and Gates were. Even better for us, Obama will have little operational control over what actually happens.”

    But were they really ‘capured’, or is it more of a two-way street where Gates and Petraeus work within established institutions to change them? This is real leadership – getting people to buy into your vision – rather than forcing it down people’s throats. This way a leader doesn’t need operational control, as subordinates are already signed on and willingly implement policy.

    I doubt McCain nor Obama will force feed anything to the gov’t, and this alone marks a substantial departure from the Bush administration. But I also think Obama policies (at least militarily) will derive more support from the institutional powers-that-be than McCain’s (given that he surrounds himself with advisors like Sarah Sewall and Samantha Power). If this is what you mean by going with the flow (institutionally), then I agree.

  3. “The most ambitious should be in the business of creating wealth, not redistributing it.”

    TDAXP: I have heard you make this argument before. Whenever I get down on the political class I remember it. In America, we want are best and brightest as entrepreneurs and business leaders, not as civil servants and perm politicians.

  4. Purpleslog,

    Excellent point.

    I want people who want to make a name for themselves opening enterprises, guiding innovation, and creating jobs and wealth.

    In a functioning environment, politics largely takes care of itself. It needs leadership in times of crises, but true crises are pretty rare.

    Curtis,

    Obama’s Afghanistan plan is substantively identical to Bush’s and McCain’s. Obama’s lack of ambiguity is troubling to some, but Bush made similar statements early in his presidency wrt Taiwan.

    It was the Democrats (and perhaps McCain, behind the scenes) grumbling about “Bush II”‘s pledge to attack China in the event of war in the Taiwan Straits. And now it is the Republicans (including McCain, quite publicly) grumbling about “Bush III’s” pledge to attack Pakistan.

    I was happy back in the Day over Bush II’s openness, and if Obama becomes Bush’s third time, that would help me reconcile with him.

  5. I think you may be on to something here. I would like to see smart, dedicated people working within the actual bureaucracy though, especially in the military and intelligence. But I assume you’re talking about the politicians, and not the career government folks?

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