I think Barack Obama’s speech on Iraq and the economy was just okay, which for Obama is pretty bad. As Chris Bowers says, it was redolent with a kind of narrow-minded transactionalism that kind of misses the point:
The broader point that needs to me made is not that Iraq specifically has prevented money from being funneled directly to your specific demographic group, but that excessive military spending in places like Iraq drains massive amounts of money from our nation as a whole. The Iraq war is our major national project right now, equivalent to the Apollo program or the New Deal. Do we want that as our national project? I don’t think many Americans would agree. Do we want a series of transactions to specific demographic groups and issues to be our national project? Even if is vastly preferable to making the Iraq war our national project, the truth is that isn’t very appealing either. We need a different framing around what we want our national project to be, and we need a Democratic leader who is willing to make that case to the country as a whole.
I think that’s right. Democrats are going to want to be featuring Iraq/economy linkages as we head toward November and the right way to do this is isn’t in terms of eleventeen different micro-initiatives that could have been paid for with Iraq-style levels of money. The point to make is that we could be making our “big project” some kind of productive investment in the future of our country — something that would provide jobs, yes, but also pay off over the long run.