John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Getting Back to the Real Debate

Posted on September 10, 2008



            Lipstick or no lipstick?  Pregnant or not pregnant?  Creationism or evolution?  Per diem or no per diem?


            Somehow, the media has focused on the least important aspects of the Presidential campaign over the last couple of weeks.  And, of course, that shift in focus has been caused by the wild popularity of John McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin.


            The Palin pick was a complete shock to the media and to the American people.  That, in small part, has caused this media frenzy.  And because the media does not like surprises, they are doing everything they can do discredit the putative Vice Presidential pick. 


            But the race for President is more important than a debate over lipstick.  It concerns real issues and the competing visions of John McCain and Barack Obama. 


And as Fouad Ajami, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University, points out today in the Wall Street Journal, in foreign policy, Obama’s team follows a strikingly different course from American policy of the last fifty years:


“The Obama candidacy must be judged on its own merits, and it can be reckoned as the sharpest break yet with the national consensus over American foreign policy after World War II. This is not only a matter of Sen. Obama's own sensibility; the break with the consensus over American exceptionalism and America's claims and burdens abroad is the choice of the activists and elites of the Democratic Party who propelled Mr. Obama's rise.”

“Though the staging in Denver was the obligatory attempt to present the Obama Democrats as men and women of the political center, the Illinois senator and his devotees are disaffected with American power. In their view, we can make our way in the world without the encumbrance of "hard" power. We would offer other nations apologies for the way we carried ourselves in the aftermath of 9/11, and the foreign world would be glad for a reprieve from the time of American certitude.”


These are important points that voters need to focus on.


John McCain is not likely to go around the world apologizing for America.  Obama seemingly will.


McCain will likely continue the philosophy of American leadership in the free world.  Obama’s impulse will be to follow the dictates of the United Nations.


McCain’s election will give great comfort to nations that yearn to be free or have recently been freed, places like Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania.  Obama’s election will give great comfort to the French, the Germans, and apparently Gordon Brown, the unpopular Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.


McCain will be seen as someone who will use American power, and will likely be able to avoid using it.  Barack Obama will be seen as reluctant to, and in turn, will be forced to use it. 


            Ronald Reagan called it peace through strength.   Teddy Roosevelt advised “talk softly but carry a big stick.”   American power is a force for good in the world.  McCain gets that fact.  Obama and his allies don’t.  A debate on that basic philosophical difference would be useful for the voters to hear.  Enough about lipstick already.