Sometimes the best way to respond to those who say criticism of President Obama amounts to support for his Republican opponents—and should thus be avoided—is to embrace their premise and allow satire to lead audiences to their contradictory conclusions, as Charles Davis does in the “Game of Drones” issue of The New Inquiry.
“With all the attacks on his leadership from the professional left,” Davis begins, “it’s all too easy to forget that Barack Obama is by far the most liberal president in American history.”
What follows shines a light on a legacy of the Democratic Party that many American liberals would prefer to forget: Obama’s undiscriminating drone war, a campaign that by 2009 had killed an estimated 10 Pakistani civilians for every militant assassinated.
Yet the left, from Noam Chomsky to the Brookings Institution, persists in talking about civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan and wherever that have already been officially denied. That raises the question: for what electoral purpose? Talking about innocent men, women, and children killed by our way of life isn’t going to bring them back, but it will undermine support among President Obama’s left-wing base. Indeed, while some pacifists confuse their personal beliefs with politically viable policy solutions — thinking, as blogger Adam Serwer puts it, that America should stick to “using banana creme pies or wifflebats in its defense” — President Obama is compelled to live in the real world. And there he must confront real threats, like a potential GOP takeover of the Senate, that require an active and politically unassailable foreign policy. Instead of dwelling on dead foreigners and arguing and bickering over which president killed which child, the left would do well to remember the huge advances in progressive rhetoric we’ve made these last four years. Instead of bashing the man who saved us from Sarah Palin, we ought to [be] rededicating ourselves to addressing the most pressing problem the planet faces right now: defeating Mitt Romney.