For reasons not interesting enough to explain here, I found myself stuck with a bit of Mark Levin‘s radio program earlier this evening. If you’ve never encountered Levin’s work, consider yourself lucky. A former Reagan administration lawyer and friend of Sean Hannity, Levin broadcasts from an alternate universe where using nu-metal bumper music is still socially acceptable. In his world, this quasi-gaffe by a relatively minor Obama Administration official is a sign of the apocalypse.
Which is not to downplay its gaffeyness. Bolden’s characterization of his outreach to Muslim countries is definitely one of the more uncomfortable non-Biden utterings of Obama’s term. It’s more than a little condescending to the Muslim world, and it makes the Administration look weak on an issue that most people would never pay attention to otherwise. But if we characterize the policy more charitably, akin to the clarifications issued recently by both NASA and the White House (described in the previous link), it seems fairly obvious that it’s about scientific collaboration with countries we often neglect in our scientific endeavors. Though NASA is often wasteful, this seems like a worthy endeavor.
…unless you make your living on talk radio. In that case, it’s a conspiracy designed to undermine freedom and coddle tacit sponsors of terror who are Our Enemies, by jingo! Elevating the discourse beyond ‘gotcha!’ is off the table.
(Postscript: Normally I try to avoid the Levins of the world. There are plenty of people with similar views who are more articulate and better able to keep their polemical tendencies in check. However, since I happened to catch some of his broadcast today, I felt like using his show to set up this post.)