Friday, June 5, 2009

Obama in M.E. part II: conservative criticism

President Barack Obama's tour of the Middle East and Europe continues to garner criticism from the fringe right, who are likening his trip to an "apology tour" for America.

While terrible and horrifying things were done under the Bush administration, Obama's tour has been anything but an apology tour. Rather, in fairly specific terms, Obama has laid out his goals and expectations for the Middle East, calling on both the Palestinians and Israel to cooperate with one another towards a common goal of peace in the region. (Following his speech, Israel lifted several checkpoints on the West Bank that restricted movement for the Palestinian people.) Obama also promoted the virtues of democracy to a region riddled with undemocratic regimes -- despite what you may have heard Elisabeth Hasselbeck and others say to the contrary.

Conservative critics of Obama have continually maintained that he is part of the "blame America first" crowd. That "crowd," in fact, doesn't actually blame America but rather the conservative policies that have ruined our image abroad. Conservatives, seeing the attacks upon their policies, have instead spun them to look like attacks on the nation itself in an effort to make liberalism look more un-American.

Debate should continue to be encouraged in this country, and conservatives have every right to argue their points when it comes to foreign policy. But the strategy continued by some conservatives, employed primarily during the Bush years but carried over to the present, is detrimental to the debate; it shifts focus away from repairing America's image in favor of tarnishing their opponents' names for political gain. In the end, that is more un-American than anything those conservatives are complaining about.

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