Samantha Power and the Subtle Invocation

Samantha Power has a review essay on the Democrats and foreign policy, and she rightly gives Matt Yglesias’s excellent Heads in the Sand a strongly favorable notice. I recommend the piece on the strength of her wise endorsement alone.

I have to say, though: she says some things I find highly unconvincing, and some that are simply strange, e.g.,

McCain has pledged to continue many of Bush’s national security policies. He backed Bush’s invasion of Iraq, he raised the possibility of military action against Iran, and he deplored granting the right of habeas corpus to detainees. He has three main tactics for seizing public trust in the area of national security. The first is to invoke, however implicitly, his own military service. When Obama criticized McCain for his refusal to support Senator Jim Webb’s proposal to increase college tuition benefits for recent veterans, McCain lashed out: “I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did.”

Obama did attack, and indeed lecture, McCain for his considered judgment on the Webb bill — about which, incidentally, I had pretty mixed feelings myself. I knew plenty of smart people on both sides. In the end, I think, like Ray Campbell of IAVA and Phil Carter of Intel Dump, that it is probably a good idea. But it certainly wasn’t a no-brainer. Anyway, how else was McCain supposed to respond? Is he obligated to never raise the fact that he has deep familiarity with military affairs and that Obama does not? Power makes this sound sinister when it’s obviously not — it’s a fact.

Power attempts to draw contrasts between Democratic and Republican approaches that will prove politically effective. Let’s just say that I think Republicans shouldn’t be too concerned about firing back if necessary. All that said, Power is clearly deeply knowledgeable, and I found the piece pretty stimulating.