Without getting into the substance of America’s intervention in Libya, it’s nice to see that certain parts of the left have suddenly discovered that their super-cool rockstar / kindly professor / political messiah is actually a bit of a demagogue with a penchant for building up straw-men and dishonestly framing those who disagree with him. Here’s an exasperated New Yorker item:
Much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya,” President Obama said Tuesday night. Maybe; but he proceeded to do something like that, too. The false choice, or choices, Obama presented were between doing exactly what he is doing and “never acting on behalf of what’s right,” and between doing what he is doing and deciding to:
“ broaden our military mission beyond the task of protecting the Libyan people, and do whatever it takes to bring down Qaddafi and usher in a new government.”
In the first instance, the suggestion that those with doubts about entering this war—without much of a plan, without real consultation with Congress—were arguing against ever doing anything “on behalf of what is right” is, to say the least, overly broad. Does Obama really think that the only morally steady position is one that endorses the current air campaign—that not agreeing with him means turning “a blind eye to atrocities,” and that anything short of close to two hundred cruise missiles “would have been a betrayal of who we are”? (The answer to that question may be “yes.”)
I don’t expect the people at the New Yorker to abandon Obama come election time–at the end of the day, you join the side you’re on. But it wouldn’t be too much to ask that when the time comes for them to do their duty, they be a little less gleeful about it. After all, in 2008 certain people were able to either (1) fool themselves into not seeing what kind of fellow Barack Obama was or (2) pretend that they thought he was something different. In 2012 people on the left will certainly find reasons to vote for Obama, but neither of those earlier poses will be possible.