Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Howard Fineman at the Huffington Post, from a piece titled "Obama Gets Osama: Goodbye Vietnam"
(as in "Vietnam syndrome"):

After nearly 50 years, the crippling "weak-on-defense" accusation -- a staple of Republican attacks going back to Richard Nixon -- may finally have reached the end of its useful life.

Republicans were going to try to keep it alive in other ways: Guantanamo, renditions, or the theory that the president was somehow coddling Muslim terrorists.

That's all going to be much harder now, especially since not a single one of the GOP's likely 2012 contenders has significant military experience, and Sen. John McCain isn't running.

This is ridiculous on multiple levels. First of all, the vast majority of voters don't give a crap about Vietnam or Vietnam syndrome, or pick a president based on experience in war-fighting. Democrats have, in fact, won the popular vote in four of the past five elections -- and the guy who lost was the guy with three Purple Hearts. The two guys Bill Clinton beat were World War II veterans, one seriously wounded in combat. And Obama, of course, beat McCain.

But for people who actually do care about these things -- i.e., right-wingers and baby-boomer Beltway pundits -- nothing can make a Democrat macho. Before long, Obama's going to fail to respond to an Ahmadinejad provocation by nuking Tehran, or he's going to seem to bow in the presence of a foreign leader, or he's going to have an Iftar dinner at the White House, and he'll be the sandal-wearing hippie singing "Kumbaya" again. Because once the right settles on a talking point (and the Beltway press settles on the need to parrot that talking point, out of fear of being dubbed liberal), the talking point can never die. The most the right will ever begrudge a Democrat is the "concession" that finally the Democrat has come to his or her senses and followed the wise couse of those warrior-kings Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

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