The context, innocuously enough, was in calling for greater support for American research and development efforts. But the language of this statement is either daft or ghastly, depending on how charitably one is willing to read it. Is Mr Obama so dense as to miss that when America invents things other countries benefit, and vice versa? If a German discovers a cure for cancer, shouldn't we be ecstatic about that, rather than angry? Indeed, shouldn't we be quite happy and interested in ensuring that Germans and Britons and Indians have the capability and opportunity to develop fantastic new technologies?
In the more nefarious reading, Mr Obama seems to accept that only relative standing really matters. A sick, poor world in which America always triumphs is preferable in all cases to one in which America maybe doesn't "win" the race to discover every last little thing that's out there to be discovered. And hell, one has to ask again whether the easiest way to prevent other countries from winning the race for the future isn't simply to blow up their labs.
Update: More reaction:
- Lefty Matt Yglesias also bashes Obama for his stance on trade.
- Right-wing apostate Bruce Bartlett knocks Obama regarding the tax code.
- Peter Suderman says that Obama railed against bailouts in a speech defending the auto bailout and also highlights a dog that didn't bark.
- Warren Meyer points out that Obama took credit for things he had nothing to do with.
- Yuval Levin's must-read: A State of Denial.