Our economic dominance may be threatened by China, India, and the European Union, but when it comes to the instruments of war, nobody else is even close. And it will stay that way no matter who, Democrat or Republican, gets elected.
In 1947, President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act, which in addition to creating the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency, consolidated the Army and Navy into a new department, first called the National Military Establishment and finally renamed as the Department of Defense (DoD) in 1949. The Department of War, which had been established in 1789, ceased to exist. As actual threats to American territory grew dimmer and dimmer, we eventually stopped thinking about what the word "defense" actually means -- or what a distant relationship the war-making machinery we constructed really bore to any sane notion of what "defending" our country would require.
Pick your tired metaphor -- take-no-prisoners, brass knuckles, no-holds-barred, playing for keeps -- however you describe it, the Clinton campaign is not only going after Obama, they're doing so in awfully familiar ways.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton in Las Vegas after Hillary Clinton was declared winner of the Nevada Democratic caucus. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
For the past few years, progressives have been saying that one of the most important things Democrats needed to do was to get tough. Republicans had been kicking sand in their faces too long, and the time had come to hit back just as hard. In my own contribution to this chorus, I started a chapter in my last book by quoting Sean Connery's character from The Untouchables: "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way."
So yesterday Bill Clinton was asked by a reporter about the lawsuit filed by Clinton supporters in Nevada trying to squash the at-large caucus sites at which casino workers would be able to vote in Saturday's caucus, and he got all up in the dude's grille:
Both candidates highlight generational divides in their respective parties and bring into question theories of political engagement that have guided the evangelical and civil-rights movements for decades.
I can't imagine I'm the only one who finds the current back-and-forth between the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns on race utterly fascinating, from the standpoint of political strategy. Here you have one of the most explosive and emotion-laden issues in American life, two campaigns that at the moment seem to have almost identical chances of prevailing, a spate of upcoming primary contests, each taking place in a state in which this issue could play out in a unique fashion, and candidates whose histories and identities are tied up with race in complex ways.