Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 19, 2009

PAWLENTY: ANYTHING YOU CAN DO, I CAN DO DUMBER.... President Obama's decision to scuttle Bush's European missile-defense plan made a lot of sense. Indeed, the decision, which enjoyed the unanimous support of the Defense Secretary and the Joint Chiefs, was one of the strongest and smartest national security moves the White House has made of late.

What's been interesting to watch, though, are the president's likely 2012 challengers, all of whom have a child-like understanding of international affairs, scramble to attack a decision they don't fully comprehend. The goal, apparently, is to not only attack the administration, but to be even more caustic than the others attacking the administration.

Mitt Romney, for example, called it a "dangerous and alarming decision," which is "wrong in every way." Rick Santorum, unimpressed by Romney's belligerence, tried to one-up the former governor, accusing the White House of trying to "appease" Russia and "turning our backs on our friends."

Not to be outdone, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who recently abandoned the pretense of sanity, decided to go even further than his likely competitors.

[Pawlenty] will raise the specter of appeasement in regards President Barack Obama's decision earlier this week to abandon a missile defense system in Europe, according to excerpts of remarks he will deliver at tonight's Value Voters Summit obtained by the Fix.

"The lessons of history are clear: Appeasement and weakness did not stop the Nazis, did not stop the Soviets, and did not stop the terrorists before 9/11," Pawlenty plans to say. "We must stand strong with allies like Israel and eastern Europe in the face of growing challenges to our national security."

Substantively, Pawlenty's argument is obvious nonsense. But note that Pawlenty clearly wins the Conservative Crazy Contest because his attack managed to incorporate Nazis, communists, and 9/11.

This is bound to get even worse. The goal for these presidential aspirants is to trash the president, but it's also to make their Republican rivals look like they're not doing enough to trash the president. The result will be a delighted right-wing base, feasting on all the red meat, while their so-called "leaders" cheapen our discourse and drag American politics into the gutter.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Too late on 'the gutter' part. The Republicans are wallowing in the mud and have no clue if they'll ever get out. Where are the 'real' Republicans. I want the real Republican Party back :)

Posted by: Lisaintexas on September 19, 2009 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

I believe the technically correct phrase is "drag American politics even further into the gutter."

Posted by: Sam on September 19, 2009 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

"...their so-called "leaders" cheapen our discourse and drag American politics into the gutter."

...and eventually dump their party into the same dustbin that holds the Whigs and the John Birch Society. Good riddance.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on September 19, 2009 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

i'm so glad our own "permanent revolution' is hotting up less than a year after the obama election -- the permanent presidential elections is like the greatest thing since the teevee.

especially since the meaning of life is consumption, and entertainment is the bestest consumption of all!!!11!11

and those clown car repugnant presidential candidates look to be even better than last season.... ya hoo!!1!

Posted by: neill on September 19, 2009 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

I can only hope they keep cranking up the crazy. If we're lucky, they'll get to the point where they're all forced to talk about the special CIA signals that Obama is sending to their dental implants, with Rush and Beck leading to way by warning the public about nefarious Democrat plans to sell us all into enslavement to the aliens from the planet Xgrjlkyw.

THAT should get mainstream voters on their side!

Posted by: Domage on September 19, 2009 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

The level of discourse from the religious right, the neo-cons, and the rethugnican politicians is sickening. That the corporate media will not present their idiocy and lies as such only exacerbates the situtuation. At times, I feel disheartened and wanting to give up fighting them.

However, I do believe that Steve Benen and others must keep bringing their belligerence, idiocy, and lies to the front for continuing discussion. If the lies are not continuously presented as lies, they 'become the truth'.

I believe that about 25% of the population believes the lies. I believe that about another 40% of the population are so confused by the continuous lying that they half believe the lies or have concluded that you cannot trust anyone to tell you the truth.

For my part and what I believe others must do, when confronted by persons repeating the lies, I make efforts to present the truth and refute the lies. Sometimes that is in a pleasant discussion, sometimes it is confrontation. Either way, if we do not refute the lies, we (our country) lose.

If you could find an honest republican, he would tell you:
- We lie.
- We know we lie.
- There are NO penalties for lying.
- The media loves our lies.
- We will continue to lie.

Posted by: SadOldVet on September 19, 2009 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

As long as the nutsery keep getting on the cover of Time (vide Glenn Beck's mug this week), we're battling upstream against the flood. Doesn't mean we should give up, but it's going to be a long, long trip.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on September 19, 2009 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Of course there's no substance to Pawlenty's sudden interest and expertise in all things foreign policy. Otherwise he would have taken into account that the US actually is in need of Russia's cooperation on Iran, and to some extent also on Afghanistan.

Maybe it has escaped Pawlenty's attention, but there are some problems with supplying US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The Karachi-Peshwar-Khyber-Kabul pass route has repeatedly been attacked and disrupted by insurgents, if only briefly.

If the US really wants to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan, it needs to secure alternative supply routes, of which there are two, one through Iran and another one through Russian territory. For some months already now, the Russians have allowed non-lethal supplies to flow through their territory and recently they have granted overflight rights for US planes carrying arms.

If President-in-spe Pawlenty thinks that it's a great idea to win some Brownie points with his rightwing base by bashing and alienating the Russians, his alternative to assure a working supply line for Afghanistan would of course be to come to an agreement with the Iranians. I'm sure he's real serious about that.

Well actually, my bet would be that, like Steve said, the real problem here lies in the fact that as a wannabee presidential contender Pawlenty has to keep up with his potential rivals. Unfortunately though, he hasn't yet reached countries outside of the American continent since starting to bone up on matters transcending the boundaries of Minnesota.

Keep at it, Tim. As George W Bush so memorably put it on the occasion of his 2004 TV debate with John Kerry: being president is hard work.

Posted by: SRW1 on September 19, 2009 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

In kind of a perverse way I am looking forward to the Republican Primaries. We should establish some manner of crazy meter , except they are setting the bar so high already. I think I will invest in some Orville Reddinbacker stock, 'cause it will surely be a popcorn munching season.

Posted by: john r on September 19, 2009 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting. "The lessons of history are clear: Appeasement and weakness did not stop the Nazis, did not stop the Soviets, and did not stop the terrorists before 9/11," Pawlenty plans to say. "We must stand strong with allies like Israel and eastern Europe in the face of growing challenges to our national security."

"Substantively, Pawlenty's argument is obvious nonsense." -- Benen

While I have not followed the issue of the missile defenses in eastern Europe closely, the foundation for Pawlenty's assertion -- "appeasement and weakness" do not work -- are historically spot-on.

Specifically, it was the strength of the US economy vis-a-vis our Soviet counterpart (and by extension the military) and the unambiguous resolve of American foreign policy that led to the crumbling of the former Soviet Empire.

Posted by: m on September 19, 2009 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Before the straw vote I want a show of hands: Who believes in creationism?

Posted by: Bob Johnson on September 19, 2009 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Oh "m" yer so sexy when you say things like that -- so reminiscent of ronnie rayguns -- usa! usa! usa! -- we brought down the evil empire...

...oh, please. that's so stoopid.

the evil empire collapsed under its own weaknesses and contradictions just as -- look around, matie -- we are following them down...

Posted by: neill on September 19, 2009 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

"neill" -- fair enough. But what weaknesses are you referring ... ideology, military, economic, political influence? And, relative to what standard of strength.

Please do not assume my argument is tacit support for high levels of military spending -- I believe we spend far too much money on expensive weapon systems (including "rayguns"). But, I'm not blind in my recognition of what transpired during the 1980's that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union -- don't be a revisionist.

Posted by: m on September 19, 2009 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

well, "m," one would hafta say the economic problems in russia sorta kinda made the collapse of the empire inevitable. and their afghanistan problem (if this is your usa usa usa moment, yer welcome to it, i'll pass.)

i have always thought that sustaining a competitive empire over and agst the united snakes allied with western europe was a loser's game.

but defining global reality for almost 50 years as a cold war was an even big losers' game...

and i'm not sure i know what i would be 'revising' by making that statement -- certainly not my own consciousness about reality.

meanwhile, lets agree to ignore each other, shall we? your sympathies for pawlenty gives you a free pass on to my list of "people i no longer wish to argue with."

Posted by: neill on September 19, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

I wondered how long it would take for "appeasement" to make its return to the political dialog. Not long.

Posted by: Mxyzptlk on September 19, 2009 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

No arguing here. And for the record Pawlenty is a putz. An idiot is not always wrong and a saint is not alway right.

Posted by: m on September 19, 2009 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

How is strengthening a missile defense system based on actual technology appeasement, while pipe dream defense systems are "standing strong"????

Sounds like someone's looking for some defense contractor handouts to me.

Posted by: oh my on September 19, 2009 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

I'm looking forward to primary season when they finally start turning their venom on one another.

Posted by: g on September 19, 2009 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

With the exception of some overseas business development trips, what foreign policy cred does Tim Pawlenty have? Wait, wait. Minnesota shares a border with Canada. And many Minnesotans consider Wisconsin and Iowa pretty foreign. So there.

Posted by: jpeckjr on September 19, 2009 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, cut Tim a break. He has foreign policy experience. His state borders a foreign country! He knows of what he speaks! Only through hard work as Gov. has he been able to stop missiles from Canada raining down on Minn.

Posted by: Tigershark on September 19, 2009 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Well, as much as I admire Pawlenty's ability to get stupid, it's going to be tough for him to lower the bar more than Palin did as a candidate, and Bush as a President.

I'm looking forward to the coming "I am a stupid Republican" contest.

Posted by: Glen on September 19, 2009 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Once again we are provided proof of the prescience of Bob Dylan!

For decades, I was convinced that Bob wrote the song 'Idiot Wind' about my ex-wife.

Now I know that Dylan was so far ahead of his time that he wrote it for today's republicans.

From 1975 & dedicated to Tim Pawlenty...

"Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth,
Blowing down the backroads headin' south.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,
You're an idiot, babe.
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe."

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on September 19, 2009 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

The real problem is that any Republican/Conservative elder statesman or woman with the prestige and gravitas to speak out against the Beck/Limbaugh/Bachmann/Palin wing of the republican party is either dead or has already sacrificed their Republican and National credibility.

In times past it might have been Bush Sr. or McCain, or Buckley, or even Bob Novak.

Come 2012 Pawlenty and Jindal will have gone of the cliff with Palin and Bachmann into cuckoo land. Only the 25-30 percent of people who approved of GWB will vote for them.

Posted by: Banana-Eating Jungle Monkey on September 19, 2009 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, can the rest of us join in, too? I can be plenty crazy. Let me be the Republican nominee.

Let's see: Barack Hussein's egregious appeasement on missile defense is what led to the sack of Rome.

Uh, if we allow Barack the Liar to pull our missile defense out of Eastern Europe, the Huns win.

How about, the Great and Powerful Reagan once warned us that if we don't defend our allies in Eastern Europe from the menace of nuclear attacks, then we might as well ship our children off to the gulags of Mecca, just to save our enemy's the trouble. Can there be any doubt that this is the next part of Barry Soetoro Hussein's lying plan for us all?

There, I think I just locked-up the primaries in Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. So suck on that, Pawlenty. Your move.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on September 19, 2009 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

"...with the prestige to speak out..." Banana-eating Jungle Monkey @ 12:20 PM.
In your list Buckley, and only because of his position at NR, would have been the only conservative I can think of who might speak out against the current crazies. The others, as politicians, would/are most likely still be so conditioned not to rile their supporters as to keep quiet. Goldwater (not listed), though, wouldn't have worried and would have been much more interesting.

Posted by: Doug on September 19, 2009 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

I seem to recall a US-USSR anti-ABM treaty, which George W. unilaterally abrogated. Obama is just returning us to the rule of law here.

Posted by: bob hall on September 20, 2009 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

There's also the question of which "friends" "we're" "betraying" by this act.
Since everyone in the world but the Publican voters (and that fraction of independent voters deemed persuadable) at whom this fauxtrage is directed is almost certainly fully aware that the "missile defense system" that the Cheney/Bush administration had planned to place in Poland and the Czech Republic has never yet passed anything remotely approximating a proper test of efficacy (or for that matter, basic functionality), I find it difficult to believe that there's any government out there, friend, foe, or otherwise, that considers this move to be any kind of abrogation of any meaningful American commitments.
The fact that every news report I've so far heard about this parrots the Publican lines without naming any of the "friends" whom we've ostensibly "betrayed" suggests that my presumption is right.
Anyone know of any indication otherwise?

Posted by: smartalek on September 20, 2009 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK
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