If Barack Obama, that living apparition of what used to be called Netroots nation, indeed gets re-elected president two weeks from now, I want to mark down one delicious irony right here–he will have done so by embracing one of the single most insipid slogans by the singularly insipid (and universally Netroots-loathed) political sloganeer Thomas L. Friedman: "nation-building at home." From tonight's transcript:
the other thing that we have to do is recognize that we can't continue to do nation building in these regions. Part of American leadership is making sure that we're doing nation building here at home. That will help us maintain the kind of American leadership that we need. […]
But what is also important for us to understand is — is that for America to be successful in this region, there are some things that we're going to have to do here at home as well. You know, one of the challenges over the last decade is we've done experiments in nation building in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. And we've neglected, for example, developing our own economy, our own energy sectors, our own education system. And it's very hard for us to project leadership around the world when we're not doing what we need to do here.
But after a decade of war, I think we all recognize we got to do some nation building here at home, rebuilding our roads, our bridges and especially caring for our veterans who've sacrificed so much for our freedom.
Bolds are mine. As I wrote when the president finally succumbed to Friedman's long campaign to get his pet slogan adopted 18 months ago,
Like all vacuous Thomas L. Friedman metaphors, "nation building at home" dissolves long before contact with reality. After all, the president is not advocating "the use of armed force in the aftermath of a conflict to underpin an enduring transition to democracy." Whatever policy emanates from this soundbite will likely not be "characterised by massive investment, military occupation, transitional government, and the use of propaganda to communicate governmental policy." At least we hope.
The phrase is even more inapt than inaccurate–we do not need, and in any case cannot afford, the federal government going on a militarized spending binge to magically rebuild our civil and public institutions. […]
[And] if the rebuild-our-infrastructure vow sounds familiar, that's because Barack Obama has been demanding we do precisely that since campaigning for president, being elected president, pushing through a $787 billion stimulus package in early 2009, announcing a $50 billion infrastructure-building plan in September 2010, making his 2011 State of the Union address, and on and on. Why, it's almost as if his repeated promises to stimulate the economy by rebuilding infrastructure results in precisely neither of those things happening!
I put forward a plan to make sure that we're bringing manufacturing jobs back to our shores by rewarding companies and small businesses that are investing here not overseas. I want to make sure we've got the best education system in the world and we're retraining our workers for the jobs of tomorrow.
I want to control our own energy by developing oil and natural gas, but also the energy sources of the future. Yes, I want to reduce our deficit by cutting spending that we don't need, but also by asking the wealthy to do a little bit more so that we can invest in things like research and technology that are the key to a 21st century economy.
Just imagine if he had ever been elected president! Or if the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress!
Win or lose on Nov. 6, one thing is for sure: Contemporary liberalism is exhausted.