Poulos Smacks Sowell Down

This is good, good stuff.  Read it all–some good comments as well, so check those out.  JP offers a primer on how conservatives can and should legitimately criticize Obama.  [Hint the Thomas Sowell way is how not to do it].  I’ll add that this isn’t the first time Sowell has been high on something when discussing Obama.  (See here).

Sowell’s quotation is embedded in this op-ed by Peter Robinson for Forbes. In Sowell’s formulation political philosophy fall into two camps:

Sowell calls one worldview the “constrained vision.” It sees human nature as flawed or fallen, seeking to make the best of the possibilities that exist within that constraint. The competing worldview, which Sowell terms the “unconstrained vision,” instead sees human nature as capable of continual improvement.

Now if you are going to frame it this way, then the constrained vision is of course conservatism and the unconstrained liberal or progressive. Robinson/Sowell argues that Obama across the board is the unconstrained and McCain the constrained. [Obviously Sowell is a conservative so in his formulation unconstrained is a very bad thing.  One could as a progressive I suppose agree with that formulation without the negative interpretation of unconstrained attached.]

Now certainly on domestic policy, Obama is a traditional liberal-progressive.  So unconstrained in many regards.

But on foreign policy of course it’s actually the reverse with Obama the more constrained one relative to McCain.  Remember the response to Russia-Georgia anyone?  Ask yourself who seemed more constrained in that scenario?  Obama’s realism with regard to Iraq versus McCain’s unending talk about “victory”, with a view of the unconstrained capacity of the US military to simply dictate reality across the world, not just militarily but politically.

On foreign policy, Obama is the return of the post WWII bipartisan consensus.  Liberal Internationalist -Interventionst.  A more or less return to Clinton & George HW Bush–maybe with a new twist or two but basically in that category.  The Powell endorsement, Obama’s closeness with Lugar and Hagel, even Bob Gates, plus of course Biden as his VP–all that adds up to well within the establishment.  McCain is a return to the early years of Bush II and arguably much more radical one at that.

For someone like Daniel L., Obama’s consensus view is very problematic.  For me it’s partially problematic (not as problematic as it is for Daniel). But compared to McCain’s neocon outlook, I’ll take the established consensus view thank you very much.  The latter is not nearly as damaging in my book as the former.  The solutions offered by neoconservatism to the problems of the consensus view are far worse (imo) than the problems themselves.

McCain’s entire theory of rolling back rogue states (hear the Dulles echoes?) and democratizing the world through a League is not exactly a constrained vision of international policy, whatever else it is.

The Liberal Internationalist (flavored with Realism) schools of foreign policy more recognize the constrained fallen nature of human international political reality.  Obama has his own unconstrained elements in his FP–though even he is coming around to the notion of negotiating with the Taliban–but compared to McCain, it ain’t even close.

The way Sowell tries to fudge that McCain’s actual foreign policy undercuts his whole neat argument about how to fit the two candidates into the two different philosophies he has outlined, is by saying that Obama will stand around and/or want to have tea chats with bad guys as the evil doers give nukes to terrorists.  No I’m not kidding, read it, and read James’ evisceration of that point as well.


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