Last night, the leader of the free world and one of the most dynamic members of America's loyal opposition took to the airwaves to present their cases to the people. For anti-Communists, it was a terrible night.
Whether one was inclined to trust President Obama over Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell - or for independents, both and/or neither - the night was punctuated by the near-total silence on the dangerous rise of the Chinese Communist Party on the global stage. Admittedly, politicians don't like to give foreign policy does much attention during a recession - especially the Great Recession, as this one is now known. However, those who have risen above politics to embrace the mantle of true leadership have insisted on keeping their eyes, and ours, on the world around us to thwart the dangers with which we must deal.
Franklin Roosevelt mobilized America to resist the Nazi Empire despite the Great Depression. Ronald Reagan continued to lead the fight against European Communism despite the only recession since World War II to challenge this one in length and severity. Sadly, neither Obama (for whom, I will confess, I did not vote) nor McDonnell (for whom I did) seemed eager to follow in the footsteps of these two late leaders.
To the extent the president mentioned Communist China at all, it was as an economic competitor similar to India - latently invoking a China-India linkage that has been repeatedly debunked by reality. More ominously, the threat from Communist China itself was completely absent from the speech. There was no mention of the regime's ties to our enemies in the War on Terror (or as it is now known, "Overseas Contingency Operations"), nor any mention of the continuing military threat to the island democracy known as the Republic of China (despite recent reports that he has approved a new arms package for the ROC, as reported by CBS News). Even the CCP's continuing currency manipulation - which has done more to damage American manufacturing than anyone is willing to admit - received deafening silence from the president.
When the president mentioned foreign policy at all, he simply recycled the Pollyannaish words of his predecessor on North Korea and the Iranian mullahs. Does he really believe the Stalinist Korean regime "faces increased isolation and stronger sanctions . . . vigorously enforced"? Has he really convinced himself that the Iranian regime "is more isolated"? The only way the president can say these words with a straight face is if he believes what Zhongnanhai tells him about these two regimes. However, Zhongnanhai has always told presidents that they're willing to work with Washington on these issues; they just have their own definition of "work with Washington."
It is painfully ironic to see a president so determined to lay blame at the feet of his predecessor simply following the Bush line in the one area where a departure from the past would do the most good.
In response to the president, the Republicans brought forth Bob McDonnell, recently elected Governor of Virginia. As a Virginian myself, I saw McDonnell's campaign up close, and as I mentioned earlier, I liked enough of what I saw to vote for him. However, foreign policy was not and is not his area of expertise, and as such, he gave scant mention to it. Unlike the president, he never even mentioned North Korea or Iran, let alone the CCP.
Now, one might think I'm being a little harsh on the president and the governor, given the current times. However, geopolitics don't simply stop for the free world to recover its economic balance. In fact, our enemies - from the CCP on down - have used recessions, depressions, or panics to take advantage of the free world and out-muscle it wherever possible. The 21st Century is no exception.
Nor is the largely domestic careers of the two politicians any excuse. In the 20th Century, America won two World Wars and one Cold War. In all three cases, the dynamic leadership required for victory came from governors (Woodrow Wilson - New Jersey, FDR - New York, and Reagan - California).
What we saw last night was not merely reflective of two men; it was a symptom of the continuing elite notion that the CCP is a "rival" at worst, a "potential partner" at best. That the CCP is in fact an enemy is hardly considered. That is the root of the free world's problem, and if last night is any indication, it will remain a problem for a long time.