Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Apology Tour? I Think Not

In an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked about the prevailing (conservative) view of President Obama that he has been going around the world apologizing for (and thus weakening) America. For someone who was Defense Secretary under President Bush, this is an amazing statement.

"Well, I like to remind people that, when President George W. Bush came into office, he talked about a more humble America. And, you know, you go back to Theodore Roosevelt and his line about speaking softly, but carrying a big stick.

"I think that acknowledging that we have made mistakes is not only factually accurate, I think that it is unusual, because so few other governments in the world are willing to admit that, although they make them all the time. And some of them make catastrophic mistakes.

"And in speeches myself, I have said that at times we have acted too arrogantly. And I didn't feel that I was being apologetic for America, I just was saying, because the next -- I was just saying that that's the way we are in terms of being willing to recognize our own limitations, and when we make a mistake to correct it.

"Because I think the next line that I always use is, no other country in the world is so self-critical, and is so willing to change course when we feel that we've strayed from our values, or when we feel like we've been too arrogant.

"So, I think -- I have not seen it as an apology tour at all, but rather a change of tone, a more humble America. But everybody knows we still have the big stick."

The likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, the cheerleaders for the "he's weakening America" meme of course will ignore anything that might weaken their argument. If Robert Gates had said during the Bush administration that Bush's aggressive tone was weakening America by alienating our allies, that Guantanamo was the #1 recruitment tool for Al Queda - what would the talking heads of Fox News said then?

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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