What a week of staring at television (perhaps there is a reason for the nickname, “the boob tube”?). The State of the Union (SOTU) was not the inspiring, wake up call to “what the future can bring” speech. Let’s start with the focus on Marco Rubio’s need for water.
Who cares? Are we watching the people who control our national budget to see how smooth they are as water drinkers? Really. The fact that he had nothing new to say is a legitimate point to highlight. He didn’t tell us how his party would bring sanity to our budgets and future costs. Just like the President didn’t tell us anything new about how he was going to lead us into logical decisions that must be made to propel us forward with jobs, spending cuts and restructuring the tax system.
For 10 days before the SOTU, I listened to the absurd argument by the talking heads about the drone program. I will state up front that I am prejudiced in support of it. I like the fact that an American life is not lost when removing a terrorist who is plotting Americans’ deaths. I enjoy the thought that no American Marine, sailor, or soldier is going to be maimed for life by an IUD when trying to kill an Al Qaeda warrior. I know this is strange — at least according to Joe Scarborough and others who are worried about how the innocent might be collateral damage in these attacks. Look up the statistics. The collateral damage when we used airplanes, tanks, and boots on the ground was much higher.
And, just for the record, the collateral damage that these commentators are focused on is a 16-year-old son of an American who left this country, moved to Yemen, stated he did not want to be an American, and took his son with him to indoctrinate him in the ways of making bombs and killing people. In Yemen, 16-year-old men carry guns and knives and wage tribal war on a regular basis. This was not your average, innocent 16-year-old American mallrat.
If one wants to have a discussion about what drone hits do for the view of America in the countries where we operate, that is a legitimate concern. Many countries where we have fought initially have negative thoughts about us. Eventually, views change. There are many a Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian, German, Italian, etc., who crave much of the American life and even want to live here. It’s possible for us to wage war and end up as the “good guy.” We have to be careful how we use the program, however, and we should have an open discussion of its use.
One can also wonder whether it is the President who should make the final decision on the hit list. Zbigniew Brzezinski pointed out that this is really a tactical operation and usually these strike calls are determined at the senior military level (President Johnson being an exception as to why Presidents should not be involved in technical military decision). We must have another discussion on how to properly implement drone strikes.
Brzezinski made the best summary of the issue on Morning Joe when he said that drones were more efficient than fighter planes or bombers, and any American that plots the downfall of America and its people deserve what they get and should expect targeting. Needless to say, no one on the show contradicted him. They waited until he was off air and then started whining again, wondering if this drone program would turn on American citizens in the U.S. All I can say to that again is, “Really?”
As the eternal optimist that I am, I hope that a blast of white light will flash in front of all U.S. politicians and they will suddenly become rational, sit down at the table and compromise so that we will no longer have these absurd crises that they scramble to momentarily fix. I also have visions that the television commentators will start becoming more in-depth thinkers. Journalists and analysts such as David Ignatius, Chuck Todd, Norah O’Donnell, Major Garrett, and others, who still give news and analysis without screaming at their guests and viewers or beating us over the heads with their own brilliance and personal knowledge. Being a staffer on Capitol Hill or a Member of Congress does not make you King of the World and the all-knowledgeable oracle.