Monday, April 20, 2009

America, the home of the _____

Fill in the blank. Brave, right?

Thought so. Which is why I find it so curious that Newt Gingrich asserted that Obama's magnanimity toward Hugo Chavez as a "terrible signal" and "dangerous." Newt, who has floated 99 trial balloons that he's thinking of running for President in 2012, oddly is showing how fearful he is of Chavez's ability to use Obama's graciousness as propaganda to advance his presence in the region. Conversely, by demonstrating cordiality, Obama is demonstrating that he is anything but intimidated by a small-time political player.

Somehow, someway, Newt and his conservative colleagues on the Right still subscribe to the notion that being gracious, magnanimous and bigger than our foes is a bad idea. Conservatives still grasp onto the notion that we ought to lower ourselves down to the level of a petty dictator, where we should use whatever power we have to assert our control, and to clearly define our allies and enemies to make sure that we're seen as being tough -- like a bully who puts up a front to protect himself from his inner weakness.

Yes, Newt and what's left of the Republican party want us to continue to act like a little dictator, while Obama wants us to act like the superpower we are.

It's stunning how far the Republicans have been led down this dead-end path of being so small on the global stage. Republicans from the 60s through the 90s were never like this. They were much more the adults of the world, rising above pettiness, and being bigger than our allies and our foes. Not any longer; the Republicans have apparently ceded this diplomatic high-ground to the Democrats -- and particularly to Obama, who is more like a old-style Republican in his foreign policy than any Democrat would like to admit.

What Newt and friends have yet to figure out is that if they continue to play devil's advocate to everything Obama does well, they're simply going to be representing how to do things poorly. That's just not a very solid platform from which to build an opposition movement.