Context and superpowers

CONTEXT AND SUPERPOWERS…. I really had every intention of ignoring this, but since the Associated Press has decided to make it one of the leading political stories of the day, it’s probably worth taking a moment to highlight reality.

Sarah Palin criticized President Barack Obama on Saturday for saying America is a military superpower “whether we like it or not,” saying she was taken aback by his comment.

“I would hope that our leaders in Washington, D.C., understand we like to be a dominant superpower,” the former Alaska governor said. “I don’t understand a world view where we have to question whether we like it or not that America is powerful.”

Reading comprehension isn’t one of the former half-term governor’s strengths, so perhaps it’s not surprising that Palin is badly misquoting, and deliberately misunderstanding, what the president said. Here’s Obama’s actual quote:

“[W]hat we can make sure of is, is that we are constantly present, constantly engaged, and setting out very clearly to both sides our belief that not only is it in the interests of each party to resolve these conflicts but it’s also in the interest of the United States. It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.”

Palin, who is painfully, conspicuously unintelligent, wasn’t quite sharp enough to understand the president’s remarks. Perhaps he should have chosen words with fewer syllables.

He didn’t say there’s a potential problem with the U.S. being a superpower; he said it’s important for Americans to appreciate the global responsibilities that come with that power when conflicts arise, and the sweeping effects of these conflicts on the country’s global interests.

As Greg Sargent explained the other day, “Palin and her team of ghostwriters plucked Obama’s remark out of context to quote him saying ‘whether we like it or not,’ we are a superpower. In reality, he was saying that ‘whether we like it or not,’ we get pulled into international conflicts that cost us American lives — so it’s in our security interests to resolve them.”

It’s really not that hard to understand, so long as you read the words and recognize the scope of the United States’ global influence.