Birds of a Feather

It looks like progressives are noticing the similarity between Mitt and Barack, and they are none too pleased.

Monday night’s debate marked the last opportunity for Romney and Obama to land some blows and to present a stark choice before voters, but the supposed differences between the two were scarcely visible.

During the debate, moderator Bob Schieffer asked Romney, “What is your position on the use of drones?”

Romney responded with the following:

Well, I believe that we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that entirely and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology and believe that we should continue to use it to continue to go after the people who represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.

Any and all means necessary, Mitt? What if the means are morally unconscionable? Moreover, when did America become some coercive doppelganger to God’s Holy Spirit, forcefully eradicating evil and bringing peace upon the earth? As far as I can tell, Romney’s answer appeared about as erudite as what you’d expect from a prepubescent comic book enthusiast. America always gets the bad guys and it won’t stop until it has triumphed over darkness! I would think that, given America’s sixteen trillion dollar debt and a string of trillion dollar deficits, Romney would have chosen his words a little more carefully. But at least Romney likes how Obama has aggressively pursued the expanded use of drone warfare. Ah, great minds think alike!

With an understandably heavy heart, Andrew Leonard of Salon writes,

Obama did not even mention the word “drones” in his followup to Romney’s comments, aside from a vague ‘we’re always also going to have to maintain vigilance when it comes to terrorist activities.’ And all those progressives whose ears had perked up when Schieffer raised the issue returned to their default position: Soul-killing despair.

There were numerous other instances during the debate when the two candidates vied with each other to express hardline positions on issues that drive progressives crazy. The fight to see who could declare himself the greater friend to Israel, and the (closely related) struggle to establish who supports the most “crippling” sanctions on Iran come immediately to mind.

Leonard is right; Obama had nothing relevant to say in distancing himself from Romney’s half-witted answer. He seemed to concur with that rascal Romney on a number of pressing foreign policy issues. For instance, America has to support Israel, even in spite of the fact that Israel possesses somewhere between 75 and 400 nuclear weapons, which are at the disposal of a formidable conscripted army. Furthermore, some may remember that in 2011 Netanyahu blustered from the House floor, “You don’t need to export democracy to Israel, we’ve already got it! And you don’t need to send American troops to Israel, we defend ourselves!” Not according to Romney and Obama! Likewise, Obama and Romney see eye to eye on the efficacy and moral legitimacy of economic sanctions, even though sanctions are likely immoral and are typically ineffective. Sadly, they succeed in crippling ordinary people, but rarely do they reform unsavory political behavior or topple wayward regimes.

Leonard wasn’t the only one, though, who acknowledged this shared political real estate in Monday night’s debate. Anthony Gregory of the Independent Institute described it this way:

Obama thundered with the Democrats’ favorite chillingly jingoistic line: ‘America remains the one indispensable nation.’ Needless to say, if any other national ruler with a nuclear stockpile said that, the world would find it more than disconcerting. Obama bragged about expanding the military, tightening sanctions on Iran (ignoring how hard these have been on the civilian population), and overthrowing Libya’s government. He invoked the specter of 9/11 like he was running for the Republican nomination in 2008. He even criticized Romney for suggesting that the U.S. ask Pakistan for permission before killing bin Laden.

Romney had trouble sounding tougher than the president, who came off a more confident emperor than in the past. Yet he did manage to sound slightly more belligerent on Iran, decrying its nuclear program without making any distinction between energy and bombs, and favoring considerable expansions of the defense budget. He also took issue with Obama for being insufficiently active in Egypt, Mali, and Syria.

Ron Paul noticed this fundamental sameness between the parties and Romney and Obama, in particular, long before Leonard though. On an April 23 appearance on CNBC’s SquawkBox, Paul summed up his competition thus: “[Romney]‘s part of that whole crowd of politicians, Republicans and Democrats, that are much closer together than most people realize. There’s not much difference when it comes to policy. The rhetoric might be different….This is why young people are disgusted. They don’t get what they’re supposed to get.”

And it’s true, voters don’t get what they expect to get. Now, if only more voters could be made aware of the similitude between the President and Romney, then we’d be getting somewhere. For the time being though, pragmatism and expediency will continue to triumph over godly convictions, and the differences between the two parties will remain as they have always been: grossly exaggerated. But we are in the midst of a sea change, I think, thanks be to the Lord, and so I’ll gladly take Leonard’s disillusionment, however minuscule or inconsequential, as an incremental victory toward a greater glorification of God and, thus, the demise of dishonest two-party politicking.

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