Drift by Rachel Maddow Essays

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Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow Rachel Maddow makes the argument of how America has been rising to a state of military power through her wit and humor, just like her television news show. The appeal of Rachel Maddow lies in her ratio of comedian to wonk. On TV, she dives into charts and graphs and long, winding fact trails, unafraid of “geeking out” because she can depend on her funniness to save her. She connects the dots from fact to fact, or statistic to policy, and along the way a parachute of jokes opens. So, sure, I’m a fan. But I worried that Maddow wouldn’t be as sharp on the page. After all, she’s a big enough celebrity that she could outsource the hard work to a half-dozen MSNBC interns…show more content…
Since 9/11, Maddow writes, less than 1 percent of the U.S. population has been called on to serve. This has drastically altered how presidents tally the cost of going to war. “We’ve never been further from the ideal of the citizen-soldier, from the idea that America would find it impossible to go to war without disrupting domestic civilian life,” Maddow writes. LBJ also set a precedent for sidelining Congress in the decision about whether to go to war—a decision that the Constitution explicitly gave to the legislature, not the president. In 1973, Congress tried to hit back with the War Powers Resolution, written to reassert its constitutional prerogative. But, as Maddow shows, that idea has been kicked around by every president from Ronald Reagan (Grenada) to Bill Clinton (the Balkans) to the Georges Bush (Saddam) to Barack Obama (Libya). Congress doesn’t declare war, and the president sends the troops anyway. Maddow is very good on the master of executive-branch high jinks, Ronald Reagan. We first meet him starring in World War II propaganda films for the Army Air Corps’ First Motion Picture Unit, better known as Fum-Poo. Forty years later, as president, Reagan seems like he’s still in a movie when he tilts at the windmill of “Soviet-Cuban militarization” by attacking Grenada. Maddow reminds us just how thin the justification for bombing that small island really was: In an Oval Office speech, Reagan made Grenada’s new airfield sound

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