Jim Hoagland has another excellent column on Obama’s national security policy, which makes the rather complex points that closing Gitmo is an important first step, that the right’s fear-mongering over it is silly, that those on the left who say Obama is Bush-lite on these issues are absurd, but that Obama needs to go further by developing new international rules of conflict. I’m not sure that I agree with or even understand all of this perfectly, but it’s striking to read something so honest and nuanced side-by-side with all the “A Few Good Men” style idiocy that’s floating around (here and here, for example). Not surprisingly, Joe Scar makes the comparison with “A Few Good Men” explicit:
“This scene yesterday…I’m serious here, this comes straight out of ‘A Few Good Men.’ The reason why the closing scene with Jack Nicholson on the stand worked so well, is, of course, we were all rooting for the young attractive Tom Cruise, just like more Americans are probably rooting for President Obama. But at the same time, what was said on that stand by Nicholson…I was struck by that contrast.”
Let’s leave aside the fact that Scar is drawing the wrong conclusion from the movie (a point Steve Benen makes) as well as the fact that the conflict in the movie was about “toughening up” soldiers, not about torture. It seems to me that the real point is that “A Few Good Men” was a fictional movie. We’ve gotten used to wingers using Hollywood ticking bombs and asteroids to argue about reality, but it’s not just wingnuts who do this and it’s rather disconcerting to see this infecting so much of our discourse.
Where does this end? Can we use Harry Lyme’s ferris wheel speech to justify sending fake antibiotics to third world countries?
I understand why movie rhetoric appeals to pundits so much. There’s a whole genre of movie wherein one (usually younger) character’s idealistic view of the world is pitted against the “tougher” view of another (usually older) character. And that’s right in the punditocracy’s wheel-house: naive, hippie democrats versus tough, old Republicans. We see this on more or less every important issue, to some extent.
But doesn’t it seem that the issue of national security, in particular, is just a lot more complicated than that? And if Dick Cheney has such a good case, why won’t anyone other than his daughter defend him? Has anyone seen a single national security professional (Bush political appointees don’t count) argue in favor of torture or in favor of keeping Gitmo open? For God’s sake, even the Bush administration rejected much of the Cheney doctrine after 2005.
But what do I know, I’m just a hack blogger who drinks too much and falls in love with girls.