Real Conservatives And Obama


The extreme comfort the British prime minister and his closest aides have with the Obama administration – Cameron-Obama; Osborne-Geithner, and most strikingly, Hague-Clinton – is, I think, a function of the Obama administration's essentially conservative foreign policy.

They've dialed down the counterproductive bluster, and ended the shame of torture, while ramping up the lethality of the war against Jihadism. In the days when conservatism did not mean Dixiecrat extremism or Santorum's disquisitions on Papal diktats, the Tory-Democrat bond would not be so strong. But Obama's shrewd, patient blend of calm talk and relentless diplomacy backed by a series of brutally successful military actions, has made a Tory-Democratic alliance a natural one. Just as Blair and Bush were spendthrift, proselytizing interventionists; and Thatcher and Reagan were anti-Communist cruaders; so Obama and Cameron are shrewd, calm realists, with a humanitarian instinct. Last night, Cameron lavished praise on the character and moral integrity of this president. Yes, guests always say such things. But you could see the genuineness of the relationship distinctly.

And, of course, the leadership of the current Conservative Party in Britain could fit into the Democratic party here quite easily. Cameron is forging a path to gay marriage in Britain, even as he is pressuring Obama on climate change. He's fiscally much more conservative, of course. But without a reserve currency, he has to be. And one senses that David Cameron was quite relieved not to have to have a meeting with a Republican nominee in the current climate.And who can blame them?

Mercifully, the Brits are not alone in seeing reality through the fog of Ailesian propaganda. Here's Chuck Hagel, once deemed a key Republican authority on foreign policy:

I do think Obama’s done a good job overall. There are a lot of things I don’t agree with him on; he knows it. I have the honor and privilege of seeing those guys a lot. [Vice President] Joe [Biden] is a good friend. Obama and I got to know each other pretty well in the Senate even though he wasn’t there very long. As you know, he asked Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) and me to go to the Middle East with him so we spent a lot time [together]… I have the highest regard for him in every way. I think he’s one of the finest, most decent individuals I’ve ever known and one of the smartest… I try to remind my Republican friends when they hammer him that this is a guy who inherited the biggest agenda of problems in this country ever inherited by a president since Franklin Roosevelt and maybe worse. Roosevelt didn’t inherit two wars that were messes with a global financial crisis.  Everywhere you look, this guy had problems to try to dig his way out of it. And I think he deserves some credit.   

Maybe we aren’t as far down the road as we could be, but I don’t think we’ve gone backward. We’ve gone in the right direction. Any president … first two years of his administration he’s really dealing with the previous administration’s budgets… That’s why I said it’s the fifth and sixth years of a two-term president that give him the biggest window.

I've long believed that this presidency – from the very beginning of its strategy – only made sense if viewed as an eight-year project. To vote for Obama in the first place and then not just as his strategies begin to bear real fruit seems incoherent to me. I remain a proud Obamacon. And an even prouder Tory.

(Photo: US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron(L) listen to national anthems during a welcome ceremony March 14, 2012 on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. By Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images. )