Obama’s getting a bad rap on the “superpower” comment

posted at 8:57 pm on April 16, 2010 by Allahpundit

This has been bugging me all week, and while I respect Ed’s opinion on it, I don’t respect attempts to bowdlerize what The One actually said. Here’s the full quote, which Ed posted a few days ago:

“When conflicts break out, one way or another, we get pulled into them.” True enough, and I don’t always “like” that we’re pulled into them. For example, I don’t “like” the fact that we have 30,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea as cannon fodder in case the lunatic to the north ever attacks Seoul. But I accept it because I understand it’s an effective deterrent that saves millions of lives. I don’t “like” the fact that we’re forced to take the lead on Iran even though their military capabilities are more of an immediate threat to Europe and the Sunnis, but I accept it because the stick we wield is so much bigger than everyone else’s that we’re most likely to bring them to heel. I don’t “like” the fact that American troops have spent the past seven years dodging — and, sometimes, not dodging — IEDs in Iraq, but I accept it because I think having a democracy in the region will eventually put pressure on local autocrats to liberalize and held deflate jihadism. Disagree with my position on any or all of those if you like, but I don’t see how it’s controversial or demeaning to suggest that the world’s policeman, like any policeman, doesn’t always enjoy his job. In fact, less than six months ago, Pew found for the first time in 45 years that those who believe the U.S. should mind its own business abroad outnumber those who don’t. I think that isolationist impulse is nutty and a de facto invitation to malign powers to expand their influence, but then so does The One — which, I take it, is why he ordered the surge in Afghanistan, is going slow on withdrawal from Iraq, is stepping up drone attacks in Pakistan, and is keeping the troops in Korea and elsewhere in place. If we insist on playing “gotcha” with short soundbites that supposedly provide some insight into his thinking but aren’t even reflected in half of his policies, can we at least provide the full soundbite for context? Geez.

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Evidence that Obama DOESN’T LIKE us:

DECLARE WAR on the banks.
DECLARE WAR on the auto industry.
DECLARE WAR on the insurance companies.
DECLARE WAR on the oil companies.
DECLARE WAR on the medical profession.

CALL AMERICA greedy.
CALL AMERICA imperialistic.
CALL AMERICA war criminals.
CALL AMERICA mean-spirited.
CALL AMERICA arrogant.

Does this sound like a President who is proud of his country?

Mark7788 on April 17, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Allah, I essentially agree with your sentiments regarding our position as the world’s policeman. I don’t think you or I dislike the fact that we are a, or even the superpower, but Obama’s chosen phrasing here does not indicate he would agree with your sentiments.

He said (paraphrasing), ‘like it or not we are a super power .. and so when conflicts break out, one way or another, we get pulled into them.’

Had he instead said (again paraphrasing): ‘we are a superpower .. and so like it or not, when conflicts break out, one way or another, we get pulled into them’ he would have been agreeing with your sentiments.

But he didn’t say that. The ‘whether I like it or not we are a superpower’ meaning of what he said was clear and either fully intended or a Freudian slip (which I doubt), but either way Obama expressed his true beliefs.

DrDeano on April 17, 2010 at 2:56 PM

I think that the expense of being “the” major superpower is legitimate and debatable.

However, I don’t think there’s any question about the positions.

Sarah/McCain/many conservatives DO feel it’s important. Obama expressed questions.

That’s the issue.

And that’s not a communications problem. That’s a policy/worldview issue.

AnninCA on April 17, 2010 at 3:10 PM

Inkblots on April 17, 2010 at 1:01 PM

I’m not particularly interested in what you think the next frontline fighter should be…You said that cutting the F-22 was the right move…I disagree. The Air Force didn’t pick the F-22 as the next generation fighter for nothing…I’ll stick with the opinion of the great folks running the Air Force as opposed to your youthful, uninformed, inexperienced opinion…By the way, your shoot from the hip analysis of F-22 mission capable rates was shot down by Dmann in previous comments…Was your supposition that the F-22 was suffering from ridiculously poor MC rates of 60% based on fact or from talking points you happened to read somewhere???

Nozzle on April 17, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Nozzle:

The comments by John Young, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, highlighted Pentagon opposition to buying more than the 183 F-22s on order from Lockheed Martin Corp… the F-22′s “mission capable rate,” a measure of its readiness, fell in the 62 percent range in the 2008 fiscal year, Young said.

“As a rule of thumb, however, 62 percent is unsatisfactory,” he said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN2035135720081120

Here’s a source for my figure from the Bush administration, if you suspect Obama’s DoD from dealing in talking-points rather than facts. As I said, dmann’s previous post didn’t dispute these figures, it just tried to spin them. Is the Bush administration Defense undersecretary a reputable enough source for you?

Inkblots on April 17, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Great post Allah…right on the money. Nice to see a conservative blogger exhibit just a smidge of rationality and objective thinking. Way, way too many of the posters here are nothing more than ideological drones. No different than the idiots at Kos, etc. who unthinkingly bashed Bush at every opportunity.

dakine on April 17, 2010 at 5:12 PM

dakine on April 17, 2010 at 5:12 PM

Thanks Solomon!

Inanemergencydial on April 17, 2010 at 5:18 PM

Inkblots on April 17, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Kid, your out of airspeed and ideas…You are picking up the press releases and taking them at face value…If you knew anything you would know that the battles are fought behind closed doors…The press release merely confirms the result of the meeting…Gates, likely at the direction of the Dear Leader, had already decided that the F-22 was not going to be funder further…Maybe he did it on his own because he is a misguided fool. At any rate, your reciting the cover story of this administration and current SecDef does not impress me…

Nozzle on April 17, 2010 at 5:43 PM

Nozzle on April 17, 2010 at 5:43 PM

My friend, that wire story is from before Obama assumed office. Are you disputing the DoD’s figures? If so, please cite a more reputable source that contradicts them. I, myself, find it mystifying that a Bush administration official would lie to the media about MC rates on this – Bush, after all, was no dove.

You’ll pardon my saying so, but it seems more like that facts don’t fit your policy preference, so rather than changing positions you’d prefer to change facts. But again, if the MC rate figures I’ve been reading are incorrect, please point me to the real ones.

Inkblots on April 17, 2010 at 5:54 PM

dakine on April 17, 2010 at 5:12 PM

Just a smidge of rationality…Your words not mine…Insult against conservative commenters here noted…

cheers a$$hole

Nozzle on April 17, 2010 at 5:57 PM

Just saw a P-51 take off and make a low pass. Caused chills like when President Ronald Reagan spoke, and we were a SUPER POWER

I am not a racist on April 17, 2010 at 6:07 PM

No different than the idiots at Kos, etc. who unthinkingly bashed Bush at every opportunity.

dakine on April 17, 2010 at 5:12 PM

So, are you a part time or full time comedian?

ontherocks on April 17, 2010 at 6:07 PM

Inkblots on April 17, 2010 at 5:54 PM

The real numbers will be classified as confidential or secret…The point being is that you will not get the true facts from an open source…Do you really think we would let our enemies know mission capable rates of frontline fighters??? Not going to happen. Now, numbers may be released for effect, either over-stating or under-stating the actual values to confuse our adversaries…As a person who spent a career around mil aviation, I can tell you that the state of the art is very very advanced with regard to design, engineering, and manufacturing these days…Saying that the Raptor has an MC rate of 62% is laughable and in point of fact is a slander against the good people Lockeed/Boeing. Hell, Vietnam era fighters with analog systems would run 80-90 percent mission capable…We are light years past those days…

Nozzle on April 17, 2010 at 6:11 PM

The problem Allahpundit is that this is what he really believes. Here is a paragraph from his UN Speech in September.

In an era when our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold. The traditional divisions between nations of the South and the North make no sense in an interconnected world; nor do alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long-gone Cold War.

So when he says that, like it or not, we still remain a dominant military power, it stems from his ideology.

therightscoop on April 17, 2010 at 6:38 PM

Nozzle on April 17, 2010 at 6:11 PM

Nozzle, I’m sure you have far more knowledge of military aviation than I do – I’m just a graduate student in CFD (btw, what line of work are you in?). However, going only by what I read in the popular press, I’ve been seeing stories of cost-overruns and reliability issues surrounding the Raptor for quite some time. Frankly, if they didn’t elect to cease ordering new airframes because they were over-budget and demonstrated poor reliability, I will be very surprised indeed.

The fact is, I can cite numbers from official sources. You can say they’re fudged, and certainly the detailed maintenance statistics will be classified, but given that I can cite figures and you can’t, well…

But ultimately this is all beside the point. I’ve already outlined why the flexibility of F-35 is more in line with our strategic needs over their service lifetime, so even if the F-22 weren’t plagued by issues I’d still support the decision. Obviously you and dmann disagree with my characterization of the sorts of conflicts America can and can not fight over the next few decades. However, I have, above, discussed precisely what is limiting us from confronting our primary likely rival for global power, and further how paying down our debt is by far the best form of additional defense spending for us to pursue at this moment. What do you think of that?

Inkblots on April 17, 2010 at 6:39 PM

Allah, I agree 100%, as I wrote in my comment to Ed’s post.

Ed, after that first half-sentence he explained in his second half-sentence that the US ends up being pulled into other conflicts because of this superpower status. I think that’s what he was referring to with his “whether we like it or not”.

People giving Obama grief for saying he doesn’t like the US being a superpower… that’s disingenuous and nutty. Though Obama could have phrased it a little clearer.

AlexB on April 17, 2010 at 7:31 PM

Inkblots on April 17, 2010 at 6:39 PM

There will not be any paying down the debt…It is impossible based on the levels of spending and the food fight that would ensue over draconian spending cuts and tax increases…Our money will continue to lose value as it is only as good as the market says it is…The world is watching as we spend astronomical figures and it really is dirty pool after all given that the dollar is a world reserve currency…What I mean is that all our world neighbors trading dollars are watching us debase their currency too…Obama, the democrats and future administrations will allow the dollar to fall as it minimizes our debt in relative terms…Although, your dollar denominated assets will cheapen as well. And, given that we are part of a global economy, everything in your life will gradually become more expensive…Inflation is the great equalizer, it cuts against everyone…The baby is ugly…Your ideas with regard to the F-35 are interesting but short-sighted. The Navy does not need a single engined airplane…A lot of guys over the years are going swimming on dark nights after that one engine quits…As well, single engined airplanes are more susceptible to loss due to battle damage…The Marines with the continued advocacy of Harry Blot will spend tens of billions trying to develop a VSTOL variant of the F-35. It will be expensive as hell and its failure rates will be much greater than covential aircraft. It will sacrifice ordnance and gas to continue the VSTOL myth brought in by the Harrier. Its a big airplane, not sure it will work off of LHDs…If not, it is an even bigger mistake…The Air Force is trading the world’s best fighter bomber in the F-22 for an inferior aircraft in the F-35. It won’t save a dime in the long run and will end our air dominance…One size does not fit all except in the dreams of inept DoD officials and certain Presidents…Shot taken with regard to my not having numbers. I’m not interested in trading useless numbers…As a former maintenance officer I know that numbers can always be made to represent the Commander’s intent. If he wants bad numbers to justify further funding or support. He gets them. If he wants perfect numbers to pass the next command inspection, he gets them…As a graduate of MAWTS-1 Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics School, I continue to say that the F-22 is the P-51 of the 21st century…

Nozzle on April 17, 2010 at 8:53 PM

As a graduate of MAWTS-1 Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics School, I continue to say that the F-22 is the P-51 of the 21st century…
awesome plane

I am not a racist on April 17, 2010 at 10:40 PM

AP,

I don’t agree with you and you and anyone that believes that Teh Won is misunderstood, should wake up and take a hike!

belad on April 17, 2010 at 10:50 PM

Nozzle, you’re a buffoon.

dakine on April 18, 2010 at 12:58 AM

Allah,

So you’re saying this great orator and amazing speaker can’t put together a coherent statement from prepared text?
Either that or he purposely left it open to either interpretation to satisfy both sides…

ajsleepy on April 18, 2010 at 1:27 AM

Inept President Zero places foot firmly in mouth again ; blames shoe manufacturer.

News at ten.

viking01 on April 18, 2010 at 1:40 AM

Kind of like that Contitution thing…a real drag…man.

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 18, 2010 at 1:46 AM

The debt problem is bad, but pretendding we can’t afford aa strong military is suicidal…

tom on April 17, 2010 at 2:18 PM

As predicted, the strawman has been set up. I have not said we can’t afford a strong military. Indeed, I haven’t said we can’t afford the STRONGEST military – at the level of spending I suggested above, we would still be spending as much on defense programs as the other top ten nations combined.

You’re inventing a “straw man” where none exists. Put the above quote in context, and it’s quite clear I’m arguing against your main proposition: that we can’t afford the F-22 because we owe too much money and we spend too much on defense.

Since the F-22 is a far more powerful and advanced than the F-35, you are in fact arguing for a weaker military. Granted, you’re justifying it by claiming a) our military is plenty strong enough, and b) our debt to China outweighs all military spending. So you’re not adopting the naive approach favored by “unilateral disarmament” types.

Regardless, you are in fact arguing for a weaker military, no matter the reasoning. There is no straw man in my arguing for a strong military, especially since my point is that cutting military spending below what is needed will just force us to spend even more later.

Will our military still be relatively strong if we don’t have the F-22? Yes. But we will no longer have the most powerful fighter plane, and that kind of supremacy is not something you give up without a fight if you have any kind of belief in a strong military.

If anyone is trying to duck the real issue at stake, it is you. Saying our military is strong doesn’t change the fact that you’re advocating it being weaker.

If you think our fighting men and women aren’t capable of maintaining our security even with such a huge edge, you obviously have less faith in them than I.

I have to make special mention of this disingenuous feel-good sophistry. Who has said that our military is incompetent? Or that buying better equipment and systems for the military indicates a lack of faith in the troops?

And as I said before, pretending our debt problem isn’t a bigger risk to our national security than even the most cutting-edge Chinese fighter jets is what is truly suicidal. So long as China owns $1 trillion of our sovereign debt, we will never be able to fight them openly anyway, so having the best air superiority fighter would be completely moot.

Inkblots on April 17, 2010 at 2:46 PM

So the fact that we owe money makes military strength irrelevant?

Teddy Roosevelt was famous for the statement, “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.” The military is that big stick. It doesn’t have to be used to be useful. In fact, much like a homeowner armed with a shotgun, the mere fact of military superiority prevents a lot of mischief. Weakness invites attack.

Or, as Reagan put it simply, “Peace through strength.”

tom on April 18, 2010 at 2:29 AM

RINO ALLAH!

leftnomore on April 18, 2010 at 5:35 AM

As an analogy, law enforcement doesn’t like being called out to domestic disputes, the most unpredictable, dangerous, and unrewarding calls they receive. But whether they like it or not, they still go. And thank God and them for doing so.

As much as I despise Obama, this is one of those comments that would not have raised an eyebrow had Bush made it.

Rod on April 18, 2010 at 7:59 AM

Your analogies dodged the what Obama said, that’s why you “liked it, or not”have many of them….you liked it. ((I don’t like it when kittens die, but I accept that some kittens don’t make it.)) lol IF you think all your examples were anything like the Presidents statement, you must have had few before pondering it.. No one likes seeing kittens die, or war, or agressionn and everyone would stop them from dying, bering waged, or necessary .. if they could.
({I don’t like that fact my Ex is married and happy but I accept the fact that that horrible person is.))
This is most like Obama’s statement. He is accepting his negative feeling on a postive situation….being powerful, the opposite of which is not adorable kittens, but weakness and danger.

LeeSeneca on April 18, 2010 at 8:42 AM

Nice to see a conservative blogger exhibit just a smidge of rationality and objective thinking.

Allahpundit-the lefties’ popular choice of ‘conservative’ bloggers 5-1.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on April 18, 2010 at 9:12 AM

Leadership require one to step up. Obviously 0bowma is not fit to be the leader of the undisputed world superpower.

It was dumb thing to say, no other president has ever said anything as foolish.

How weak do we look to other nations after that?

FireBlogger on April 18, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Obama definitely looks more at home with the Islamic crescent behind him than with an American flag.

drjohn on April 18, 2010 at 10:29 AM

People giving Obama grief for saying he doesn’t like the US being a superpower… that’s disingenuous and nutty. Though Obama could have phrased it a little clearer.

AlexB on April 17, 2010 at 7:31 PM

It was perfectly clear. Obama dislikes the fact we are a superpower. His many statements support that fact. This is just the first time he’s come out and said it in such a clear and succinct manner.

ButterflyDragon on April 18, 2010 at 11:25 AM

As an analogy, law enforcement doesn’t like being called out to domestic disputes, the most unpredictable, dangerous, and unrewarding calls they receive. But whether they like it or not, they still go. And thank God and them for doing so.

As much as I despise Obama, this is one of those comments that would not have raised an eyebrow had Bush made it.

Rod on April 18, 2010 at 7:59 AM

Your analogy is wrong.

A cop saying, “like it or not, I have a badge and a gun so when violence erupts on the streets, like it or not I am dragged into the fray to restore order”.

That is a more accurate analogy and shows how foolish and ridiculous Obama’s statement was.

Because, like it or not, the free world looks up to us for leadership, guidance and at times protection. Thank God we have a military that can provide that protection when it is required.

ButterflyDragon on April 18, 2010 at 11:32 AM

AP misses the point entirely. The reason he doesn’t like our international involvement is different than the reason the Messiah doesn’t like our involvement. By apologizing for The One’s statements, AP is enabling Obama and his thugs.

WordsMatter on April 18, 2010 at 12:28 PM

DrDeano on April 17, 2010 at 2:56 PM

I’m not sure whether I agree with that take, though it’s not unreasonable.
I’m wondering if the problem is what has also been demonstrated before Obama is a bumbly muddled speaker. In other words, he was trying to spit out something along the lines of what you say would have been more appropriate, but he’s such a sloppy thinker/writer/speaker he puts qualifiers where they don’t belong.

SarahW on April 18, 2010 at 1:21 PM

Who was his audience?

The despots and tinhorn dictators in the crowd was who he was talking to.
The fact that American citizens believe it is his own opinion is only a testament to his governing style.

gstep58 on April 18, 2010 at 1:28 PM

I think Obama’s sentence construction hurts him here. I’ve felt from the beginning that the “whether we like or not” phrase was likely not meant for “being a superpower”, but more for the policing responsibility that goes along with it.

But maybe I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Potfry on April 18, 2010 at 2:17 PM

I don’t believe he’s getting a bad rap. He said what he said. If you don’t associate with a whole bunch of people, ambivalent about our superpower status, you don’t have to put the disclaimer in there. The fact that the President of the United States feels he has to add the disclaimer, “Whether you like it or not.” is viewed by some as a problem. I can’t recall any other president thinking that way.

bflat879 on April 18, 2010 at 2:33 PM

For someone who revels in taking things out of context when it comes to Palin or who seems so eager to believe every lie or distortion printed/said about her, your annoyance over Obama being “misquoted” is incredibly hypocritical. But it does explain a lot. I’m still not sure if this is Allahpundit’s “jumped the shark” moment but it’s pretty darn close.

Redneck Woman on April 18, 2010 at 6:00 PM

“Like it or not, Allah is an idiot.”

Guess I’ll be banned, even though I don’t like the fact…

psrch on April 18, 2010 at 6:36 PM

“For someone who revels in taking things out of context when it comes to Palin or who seems so eager to believe every lie or distortion printed/said about her, your annoyance over Obama being “misquoted” is incredibly hypocritical. But it does explain a lot. I’m still not sure if this is Allahpundit’s “jumped the shark” moment but it’s pretty darn close.

Redneck Woman on April 18, 2010 at 6:00 PM”

Oh snap, I think the legs of Allapundit’s argument just folded beneath it!

Africanus on April 18, 2010 at 7:33 PM

He said what he said.

Those who don’t want to believe it – who think surely he couldn’t have meant what he seemed to have meant – well, what can I say.

It’s hard to believe that a President could be like this, but he is. If some people don’t want to face it, no matter how much evidence accrues, I guess they just won’t.

I guess this has happened in history before.

Alana on April 18, 2010 at 10:57 PM

When people show you who they are, believe them. I believe that Mr. Obama has done a very thorough job of showing us who he is, and I believe him. You should too, AP.

redwhiteblue on April 18, 2010 at 11:45 PM

He said what he said.

Those who don’t want to believe it – who think surely he couldn’t have meant what he seemed to have meant – well, what can I say.

It’s hard to believe that a President could be like this, but he is. If some people don’t want to face it, no matter how much evidence accrues, I guess they just won’t.

I guess this has happened in history before.

Alana on April 18, 2010 at 10:57 PM

+1000, it’s so unreal in fact that some folks who are generally conservative seem compelled to rationalize Obama’s behavior as something other than it is.

WordsMatter on April 19, 2010 at 7:32 AM

AllahP, I don’t agree with you about context. Obama is credited with being a quality wordsmith. As such he knows the manner in which words and thoughts should be structured to make a specific point. If he meant this comment to be taken,as you have taken it, he would have worded it thusly. ” We are the world’s dominant military superpower, and that confers responsibilities upon us. Like it or not our responsibility, interest and capability can draw us into conflicts around the world.” This places the phrase in its proper context. Obama is too good a rhetorician to not have realized the meaning of his phraseology. That phrase was deliberately structured to appeal to his left wing base, while providing a degree of protection from attacks from the right. In his heart and mind he meant it. It’s what he believes about America.

xkaydet65 on April 19, 2010 at 11:14 AM

The man(?)is an insufferable sap. He could double his IQ and he would still be stupid. Unbelievable! Corpseman, indeed, in all 57 States, ad infinitum ad naseum.

LarryG on April 19, 2010 at 11:51 AM

“When conflicts disagreements break out, one way or another, we I get pulled into them.” True enough, and I don’t always “like” that we’re pulled into them.

Allah getting a bad rap on providing context for Obama. “Whether we I like it or not, I remain the dominant Obama defender on this blog.”

/no sympathy, AP asked for it and deserved every bit coming his way

Sir Napsalot on April 19, 2010 at 2:49 PM

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