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Skip to comments.Holes in the Hull: Obama's Battleship Argument Confuses Sneering for Intellectual Confidence.
Posted on 10/26/2012 5:29:39 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
In the third and final debate, Barack Obama scored huge points with the media, college kids, and die-hard liberals in other words, his base when he mocked Mitt Romneys concern about our historically small Navy.
But I think Governor Romney maybe hasnt spent enough time looking at how our military works, the president said. You you mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our militarys changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.
And so, he added, the question is not a game of Battleship where were counting ships. The question is what are our capabilities.
This struck me as an example of how thoroughly liberalism has confused sneering for intellectual confidence. It shouldnt be surprising, given that comedy shows often substitute for news programs, particularly for younger liberals. Thats probably why the president has been spending more time talking to DJs, entertainment shows, and comedians than to reporters. He desperately needs the support of low-information voters, whove replaced the old adage its funny because its true with if its funny, it must be true.
Obamas argument if thats not too generous a word is that the Navy in particular, and the military in general, can do so much more because of technological advances.
And that is certainly true.
But its also true that there have been huge advances in the technology used to sink our ships and blow up our planes as well. And, to date, no breakthrough innovation has led us to figuring out how to put one ship in two places at once.
Theres another problem. What innovation does he have in mind? Many of our warplanes and nearly all of our major naval vessels are much older than the pilots and sailors flying and sailing them. Its great to talk up the benefits of innovation, but that argument starts to sputter when you realize we are often relying on the innovation of older generations. For all his talk about the game Battleship, we havent built a real battleship in almost 70 years, and the Navy hasnt had one in its arsenal for decades.
But what I find most interesting about this argument is how selective it is. For instance, defenders of Obamas Keynesian economic policies are constantly touting the benefits of big, high-tech spending programs because of the multiplier effect the increased economic activity primed by government spending.
Indeed, the economists who subscribe to these views tend to tout military spending as particularly good evidence in their favor. Many argue that it was the massive spending during World War II that really pulled us out of the Great Depression (a flawed theory but more credible than the New Deal itself, which mostly prolonged the Great Depression).
And yet, it seems that military spending is the only Keynesian pump-priming this president doesnt like.
Conversely, his argument that technological advances should deliver increased savings by providing more bang for the buck doesnt seem to enter his thinking anywhere else. In the private sector he finds improved efficiencies to be a burden all of those ATM machines taking away good bank-teller jobs.
And where are the technological efficiencies making government more effective for less money? Surely the breakthroughs in productivity, information management, and telecommunications would afford us a huge opportunity to cut away some of the obsolescence in the non-defense parts of our government?
But no. Obama is constantly yearning to hire more government workers. The private sector, he said not long ago, was doing fine. The place we needed more jobs was in the federal, state, and local bureaucracies.
Indeed, in his new plan he promises again to hire 100,000 new teachers. He is constantly assuring us that our crumbling schools with leaky roofs are robbing children of their education. The honest truth: You can teach kids in a school with a leaky roof pretty easily. A submarine with a leaky roof? Thats a problem.
The amazing thing is that weve been increasing federal government spending on education at a blistering pace for decades. Where is the return on the investment? Where are the improved capabilities and efficiencies from investments in technology?
The military, which thrives on precisely the civic virtue Obama insists is on full display in public education, has a lot to show for the investments of the past Obama would like to curtail. Wheres a similar return in the non-defense sector? And has Obama ever bothered to ask that question?
Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
If memory serves, Ayn Rand noted - on more than one instance - the sneer, as one of the characteristic expressive gestures of collectivists and second-raters.
Aircraft carriers have been around for about 80 years, and submarines for more than 150 years. Is oBama just now learning about these things?
Scandal: More than six hours after terrorists attacked our consulate, former Navy SEALs manned a blood-soaked machine gun to defend U.S. territory. Meanwhile Apache helicopters sat on the ground in Italy.
At 4 a.m. local time on Sept. 11 six hours and 20 minutes after the initial attack began former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed at the CIA annex not far from the consulate by a mortar shell. The machine gun they were firing was encrusted with blood, an indication they continued to fight after being wounded.
During that eternity, Woods and Doherty might have wondered between gunfire and explosions where the military, with bases strewn across Europe, was. U.S. forces were indeed being moved like chess pieces as the attack unfolded, but none came to their aid because no one gave the order.
If Golf was his job, he would have been an OK President.