Friday, July 11, 2008

Karl's Weekend Reading

Charles Krauthammer discusses the virtues of "hard power", and its role in the 15 freed FARC hostages last week, in his Townhall article, The Alter of Soft Power.

Betancourt languished for six years in cruel captivity until freed by a brilliant operation conducted by the Colombian military, intelligence agencies and special forces -- an operation so well executed that the captors were overpowered without a shot being fired.

This in foreign policy establishment circles is called "hard power." In the Bush years, hard power is terribly out of fashion, seen as a mere obsession of cowboys and neocons. Both in Europe and America, the sophisticates worship at the altar of "soft power" -- the use of diplomatic and moral resources to achieve one's ends.

Thursday's WSJ Opinion page was packed with Obama commentary by the masters, Karl Rove and Daniel Henninger.

Karl gives plenty of praise for Obama's masterful 'refinements' in his lurch to the center in, Barack's Brilliant Ground Game. You have to read to the end to get to the 'but':

Mr. Obama is assuming such dramatic reversals will somehow avoid voter scrutiny. But people are watching closely, and by setting a world indoor record for jettisoning past positions, Mr. Obama may be risking his reputation for truthfulness. A candidate's credibility, once lost, is very hard to restore, regardless of how fine an organization he has built.

Mr. Henninger is optimistic about Obama's lack of emotional and personal attachment to the 60's in Will Obama Let the Sunshine In?

His recent flip-flops on guns, the death penalty and Iraq suggest he is less inclined to belief-based '60s style activism than to pragmatic opportunism. The old school wanted to triumph. He wants to succeed.

The Democratic bloggers, truly a tribe descended from 1968, hate Obama's easeful flexibility. But it explains in part how he is slipping by with a standard liberal policy-set no one seems to notice. A lot of moderate Democrats and younger voters, who consider themselves mainly achievers rather than activists, are OK with this. They would rather vote for a flexible opportunist than a committed man of the left. So that's what they're getting.

If he wins, though, the country would have a president who lacks personal and political clarity. This would give the politics of hope new meaning. What precisely do voters think they're getting? You don't have to wait for an answer. It will be supplied in January by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, the House caucus and many others who turned professional after the '60s and know what to do with a big governing majority in Congress.

And Ushanka owner Mike Adams talks about the recent unwritten additions to the Constitution - rights that seem to be there, yet they aren't. He talks about those who add these new rights in his Townhall article, My Right to Unlimited Rights.

This trait of being more in love with consumption than production is one shared by most of my socialist colleagues in academia. They base their lives on the idea of taking “from each according to his ability” and giving “to each according to his need.” The problem is that they do a better job of articulating their needs than promoting their abilities. This is, of course, because socialists are generally short on abilities. They seek socialism because they think being guaranteed an average outcome is safer than trying to beat the average in a system based on merit, which is otherwise known as ability.

Anyone watching the 2008 presidential race has doubtless seen a similar dynamic among supporters of Barack H. Obama.