Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Obama's Making Me Convert

President Obama is turning me into a Republican.

For years, I’ve been staunchly politically independent; Democrats generally too illogical for my reckoning, and Republicans too greedy. Over the course of my voting career, I’ve logged more Republican votes than Democratic, but I’ve never considered myself a die-hard Republican. And my die-hard conservative friends haven’t, either.

But with the sometimes stunning – yet deceptively innocuous – pattern of duplicity, vapidity, and even borderline incompetence with which Obama conducts himself as president, all my best efforts at resisting being dragged off to the right get weaker and weaker.

Liberals – and I – grimaced when George W. Bush stood under a banner saying the war was over, said it wasn’t about weapons of mass destruction, or, as I mentioned the other day, praised Brownie for “one h*** of a job”. He wasn't nearly as good as many Republicans remember him being, but at least 43 didn't hide behind any grand pretensions.

More than Politics as Usual
Yes, ridiculous big-government posturing has caught my ire, such as the recently-enacted environmental bill requiring homeowners to remediate lead-based paint before getting new carpet, but although it happened on Obama’s watch, both Bush presidencies let it sail through their administrations.

What galls me more is the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, which has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with unionizing all government workers and raising taxes. Never heard of it? That’s because Democrats have been throwing so much pork to their union benefactors it’s hard to keep up with it all.

Indeed, taking a quick gander through the first two years of what was supposed to be a historical presidency for change, Obama could be written off as just another liberal run amok in Washington:
  • His ending the ban on funding for abortions was to be expected from a liberal.
  • His idea to require TARP recipients to limit executive pay only confirmed what we all knew to be his infantile economics proficiency, as have his many foibles on the finance and mortgage fronts.
  • His arbitrary withdrawal date from Afghanistan wasn’t taken seriously by anybody.
  • And the mother of all travesties, nationalized healthcare, owed more to the impudence of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi than Obama’s machinations, so he’s not entirely to blame for that fiasco.
Individually, each of these mistakes by President Obama, taken on their own, probably wouldn’t force me into the arms of Rush Limbaugh’s political party. But collectively, and considering we’re only talking about one half of one term’s worth of bad decisions, they amount to a perplexing abdication of conventional Executive Branch safeguards regarding the sovereignty of the United States, the capitalistic heritage of our economy, and even simple common sense.

Here’s what I mean:
  • He hosts a “beer summit” to insert himself in the tempest in a teapot between the hopelessly self-aggrandizing Henry Louis Gates and an unfortunate police officer.
  • He joined Oprah Winfrey in an imperious junket to win the Olympics for Chicago.
  • He’s bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia and the Japanese emperor.
  • He accepted an embarrassingly silly award from the Nobel Prize committee.
I don't expect our president to be perfect. But neither can I dismiss such poor performance.
Camels and Straw

For many of us, there comes the proverbial straw that inevitably breaks the camel’s back. While the many stalks of straw which are overburdening Obama’s presidency continue to accumulate, one of them was slipping by the eyes of the American populace; relegated to being just another in a long list of surreptitious policy ploys by the Obama administration.

Until Obama’s newly-appointed head of NASA blabbed to Al-Jazeera.

Now, what a member of an American presidential administration is doing granting an interview to the Taliban’s mouthpiece is a worrying situation all its own. Unless a US official wants to announce to the Muslim world that we’ve finally captured Osama bin Laden, I don’t know what legitimacy the White House should be lending to the spokespeople of modern terrorism.

And if any American official should have any interaction with Al-Jazeera, should it be, of all people, the political appointee for NASA’s ceremonial leadership role?

But there he was, Charles Bolden, gushing to Al-Jazeera that President Obama wanted him to "perhaps foremost, …find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering."

And here I was, goofy me, thinking NASA was all about space exploration.

"One of These Days, Alice: POW! To the Moon!"
Maybe Obama’s misguided perspective on NASA’s purpose shouldn’t be too much of a surprise; after all, he’s recently been busy diverting space dollars to his black hole of a healthcare initiative. Even though the White House has since clarified what they think Bolden meant in his interview, the Al-Jazeera piece isn’t the first time Bolden has said basically the same thing.
Not that diversity at NASA is intrinsically a bad thing. For years, women, blacks, and other "minorities" have been intentionally targeted for astronaut training and aeronautical engineering, initiatives that I can't fault. After all, who says outer space is a white male's domain?

Indeed, who can dispute the fact that America, being a country comprised of people from across the globe, now possesses a space program representing employees from a variety of religions, ethnicities, and cultures? Who complained when the Space Shuttle hosted astronauts and carried payloads from other countries? Outer space is no place for affirmative action, but as long as someone's qualified, having Martians manning the Space Station shouldn't be a problem.

So why does President Obama seem to be singling out workers by religion? If he wants Bolden to further diversify NASA’s payroll, isn’t Obama being overtly prejudiced in specifying he pursue new people based on their religion?

Does this mean we already have enough Baptist astronauts? Episcopalian riveters? Sikh engineers?

And why Muslims? What is Obama’s preoccupation with courting the Muslim world? Why not just “Arab”? You can be Arab without being Muslim, can’t you?
Space Exploration Actually IS Rocket Science

Even if it wouldn’t strain our sovereignty to reach out and partner more deeply with other nations in next-generation space exploration, should we be wasting time trying to cultivate engineers from any non-First-World countries? Should space exploration be a social policy initiative? Can we rely on educational standards from Arab countries to create the sophisticated technology and equipment necessary for modern space flight and research? We did the seat-of-our-pants stuff back in the 1960’s; comparatively speaking, the advancements we made from those early pioneering days have created a whole new benchmark for legitimate, progressive space exploration that challenges even First World talent.

Just because we can’t strengthen our math and science programs in the American classroom doesn’t mean we should glad-hand for talent in the Third World, whether they’re Arabs or not. If you don’t want to pay for pushing the space envelope out of the US treasury, at least reach out to fellow First-World nations who can contribute their expertise, instead of dilute ours.

And for goodness sake, if you’re one of the ones preaching separation of church and state, don’t target a particular religion when sending your NASA administrator out to sell your "we are the world" agenda.
President Obama, if I have to turn Republican, I'm holding you responsible.

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