Yes, there is an Obama doctrine

Ed Morrissey has put together a very useful post summarizing various liberal media attempts to understand the Obama doctrine.  Morrissey concludes at the end that, try as hard as one likes, “There really is no doctrine.”

Morrissey is correct that there is no doctrine if one is looking for a verbally articulated doctrine.  Obama says everything, and Obama says nothing, and Obama says it all as boringly as possible.

The mere fact that the greatest communicator since Abraham Lincoln (that’s sarcasm, by the way) is incapable of articulating a doctrine, though, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have one.  Indeed, if one buys for one minute into the whole greatest communicator shtick, it’s pretty clear that, as I said in my earlier post, that Obama intentionally obfuscates in his speeches because he doesn’t want people to know what the doctrine is.

Fortunately, because actions speak louder than words, we can arrive at the Obama Middle Eastern doctrine without any actual verbal help from Obama.  Here goes:

America can no longer selfishly engage in wars that directly affect (i.e., improve) her national interests.  To prevent her from doing so, she must always sublimate her sovereignty to the U.N.  A small number of U.N. players, most notably Europeans who are dependent on Libyan oil, have decided that Qaddafi must go.  Even though the number is smaller than the number that joined with Bush on Iraq, they’re the “in” crowd, so Obama must follow where they lead.  Hewing to the popular kid theory, these “cool” U.N. players matter more than the American Congress, which is made up of rubes and hicks, who lack that European savoir faire, even the useful idiots who hew to Obama’s political ideology.

A subset of this Obama doctrine is that, while America must never mine or drill her own energy resources, it is incumbent upon America to dig into her pockets to enable other countries to get to their energy resources, which America will then buy back at a premium.  This is American charity at its best.  If you want to feed a man for a day, buy him a fish.  If you want to feed him for a lifetime, teach him to fish, buy all his fishing equipment, stock the lake with trout, break all your fishing equipment, make it illegal to fish in your own lakes, and then buy that man’s fish back from him at the highest possible price.

And whatever else you do, make sure you kick Israel around . . . a lot.  That will make the cool kids (e.g., the Euro-trash and the Mullahs) happy.  It never pays to lose sight of your true constituency.

The vision thing

Whether or not one liked him, Ronald Reagan got “the vision thing.”  He had an extremely strong sense of America and her place in the world, and was never afraid to share that narrative.  America was the shining city on the hill, the bastion of true republican democracy, and the world leader in exporting freedom and wealth.  The Communists were, simply, evil.  They were the antithesis of America because they were the antithesis of freedom.

Sophisticates sneered at Reagan’s simple, (old) Hollywood vision of the world.  To ordinary Americans, though, Reagan’s clearly and repeatedly articulated vision of this country instilled in them a deep sense of pride that ran comfortably alongside an economic boom resulting from the policies that underlay Reagan’s vision.  Just as importantly, in gulags and prisons around the world, prisoners, and dissenters, and dreamers heard Reagan’s words too.  They understood that, not only was he describing something better than their totalitarian governments had to offer, but also that the leader of the most powerful nation in the world understood and willingly articulated that truth.

Obama also gets the vision thing.  His education, career and presidential trajectory show it very, very clearly.  His vision is that America is an arrogant nation rife with internal inequities.  Domestically, his job as president is to equalize people’s status within the country, which is best done through redistributive financial policies.  On the international side of things, his job is to subordinate America to the United Nations, making it just one nation among many.  ObamaCare and the Libya War stand as hallmarks of these domestic and foreign visions.

Obama’s vision is of America as Europe — not Europe during her imperialistic heyday, but a post-WWII Europe, socialist and humbled.  Of course, what he doesn’t seem to realize is that post-WWII Europe survived only as long as it did because America footed the bill.  No America, no post-WWII Europe.  He hasn’t grappled with that economic reality as he’s pushed America out of her financier mode and into her begging socialist mode.

What’s interesting about Obama is that, while he is consistent in his vision, and unfailing in his willingness to put it in effect, he refuses to articulate that vision.  Put him in front of a teleprompter, and he simply mouths platitudes about “America is great.”  Unscripted, he slips up periodically and talks about “sharing the wealth,” and the fact that there’s nothing exceptional about America.  Overall, though, he’s coy.

Reagan braved the ridicule of the world’s intellectuals to sell his vision to the world.  Obama already has the world’s intellectuals on board.  His vision about America and her place in the world is exactly the same as their vision.  He’s coy, then, not because he fears media and Ivory Tower derision, but because he knows that ordinary Americans will not buy what he would be selling were he to speak.  How much better to skip the sales pitch and just force the product on a credulous public?  Obama also doesn’t sell his vision because he knows that, abroad, while the Euro-trash and Muslim Brotherhood eat up what he has to say, the people languishing in prisons, in China, in Cuba, in Venezuela, in Iran, etc., would recognize his vision for what it is — not even snake oil, but pure venom.

The President embraces Newspeak

An illegal alien is, by definition, a criminal:  the person snuck into the United States in the dead of night (so to speak), and has no right to be here.

That’s not how our president sees it:

A student, who appeared via Skype, asked: “My question for the president is, why [is the government] saying that deportations have stopped — or the detention of many students like me, why is it that we are still receiving deportation letters like this one?”

Obama answered, “We have redesigned our enforcement practices under the law to make sure that we’re focusing primarily on criminals, and so our deportation of criminals are up about 70 percent. Our deportation of non-criminals are down, and that’s because we want to focus our resources on those folks who are destructive to the community.

“And for a young person like that young woman that we just spoke to who’s going to school, doing all the right things, we want them to succeed,” Obama said.

Hmm.  So the thief breaks into your house.  He doesn’t attack you physically.  You might not even know he’s there.  He simply empties your refrigerator, takes money from your safe, goes through your medicine cabinet and takes your books.  You call the police, but they tell you that, now that he’s in your house, and since he hasn’t hurt you, you should just be cool.  Indeed, they say, with luck, he’ll take all your possessions, and set himself up in his own house, with his own refrigerator, medicine cabinet, money and books.

I don’t like our president.  The more I learn about him, the less I like him.  I just keep telling myself that we (America and poor Israel) just have to hang in there for another 18 months.  Of course, considering that the American people imposed this walking disaster on us in the first place, perhaps I’m being foolishly optimistic in assuming they’ll collectively wise up by 2012.

I’m not the only one, incidentally, who is finding it unnerving to peer into the president’s psyche.  Zombie peered too, and finally figured out what’s going on (graphic reprinted with permission):

Mark Steyn on Obama’s war

The whole thing is good (of course), but I enjoyed this bit especially:

“That’s why building this international coalition has been so important,” [Obama] said the other day. “It is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions that are important not only to us, but are important internationally.”

That’s great news. Who doesn’t enjoy volunteering other people?

The Arab League, for reasons best known to itself, decided that Col. Gadhafi had outlived his sell-by date. Granted that the region’s squalid polities haven’t had a decent military commander since King Hussein fired Gen. John Glubb half a century back, how difficult could it be even for Arab armies to knock off a psychotic transvestite guarded by Austin Powers fembots?

But no: Instead, the Arab League decided to volunteer the U.S. military.

The new face of antisemitism

Actually, it’s not a new face at all — it goes back to Mohammed himself, and his paranoid, resentful rants when the Jews refused to accept him as a prophet.  What makes it new is that, thanks to the modern age and the Leftist media, these messages, which used to be confined to backward desert regions, are all the rage, all over the world:


New Trends in Arabic Anti-semitism from Henrik Clausen on Vimeo.

It’s that kind of crap (pardon my language), that allows Reuters to write this kind of crap:

Police said it was a “terrorist attack” — Israel’s term for a Palestinian strike. It was the first time Jerusalem had been hit by such a bomb since 2004.

Or that allows Obama to use only passive voice in speaking of Palestinian terrorism, passive voice so extreme he doesn’t even do the usual passive voice technique of waiting until the sentence’s end to include the noun that did the verb.  Instead, he manages never to include any actor in the sentence at all.  He’s not the only one, of course.

Obama’s Jimmy Durante-esque foreign policy

Rick Moran aptly summarizes Obama’s dizzying reversals on foreign policy when it comes to Libya.

Jimmy Durante would have understood (except he was only joking):

For the Left, it’s the right war, with the right leader

Glenn Reynolds has been enjoying himself pointing out the hypocrisy of many of those on the Left when it comes to Obama’s new war (“Watching the people who savaged Bush and called his supporters warmongers and so on now faced with watching the Lightbringer doing basically the same thing, only less competently, is too good a pleasure to forego.”)  One of his readers also pointed out something I’ve been noticing:  if you have liberal friends on facebook (as I do), they are absolutely silent about the newly declared war.

And why not?  This is the wet dream of liberal wars:  It hasn’t been billed as promoting American interests (and there is debate as to whether it does); it’s being led by the UN, which has been incapable of articulating an actual desired outcome; and a a pacifist, incompetent, disengaged American president is gratefully playing third chair, behind France.  This is the way wars should be fought. This is the Leftist version of a “good war.”

Bad wars are the ones that are sold expressly as advancing American interests; that have clearly defined, pro-American goals; and that are led, not by the international community, but by an American president who believes in the mission.  An incoherent war that sees America play second fiddle to the rest of the world is clearly a war that’s well worth the money spent.

Obama and drilling

Obama is encouraging Brazil to engage in precisely the type of oil drilling that he’s refusing to allow in America, and then promising that America will be a market for that oil.

My question for you:  Why?

Is Obama so anti-American that this is just part of an ongoing effort to destroy her financially?  Or beneath that Leftist exterior, is he an old-fashioned imperialist who would rather see a poor “other” country destroyed by the environmental risks of oil drilling, while his own country remains environmentally clean and pure?  Or is there another reason I haven’t thought of?

For myself, I lean to the first choice.

The fog of Obama

If you talk out of both sides of your mouth, and with forked tongue, on any given day something you said might, for a moment, be true.  When it comes to the Middle East, Obama has said absolutely everything:  leave them to themselves, intervene, self-determination, democracy no matter what, hunt down dictators, let their own people take care of them, non-intervention, intervention, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  No wonder European leaders were left stating that they had absolutely no idea what Obama stood (or stands) for.

It’s exhausting to keep track of someone who is simultaneously puffing fog out of one end, while covering his ass at the other.  Jim Gehargty has collected a whole bunch of Obama’s “playing both ends against the middle” moments. (Hat tip:  Lulu)

It’s no fun being Cassandra….

Poor Cassandra was cursed by the Gods with the gift of making accurate prophecies that no one would believe.  The disasters she foresaw always came true, but she was helpless to stop people (and nations) from racing towards their doom.  The endings were always so terrible — and Cassandra was herself swept up in them — that she never even got the consolation of a good “I told you so.”

Ever since Obimbo appeared on the scene, we at Bookworm Room have been Cassandras.  We’ve vacillated between trying to decide whether Obama acts as he does through incompetence or malevolence, but we’ve always been clear in our own minds that his approach to the Presidency would be disastrous, both at home and abroad.  One of the things we (and by “we,” I mean my readers and I) predicted was that the Obamessiah, by creating a leadership vacuum in the space America used to fill, would release dangerous forces — just as the Soviet Union’s collapse unleashed long simmering, and quite deadly, regional rivalries in the Balkans.

The headlines now seem to bear out our worst predictions.  Just today, Danny Lemieux forwarded to me a Gateway Pundit post relaying the news that, because Saudi Arabia acted in Bahrain (yes, filling the American leadership vacuum), Iran is now rattling its sabers:

A senior Iranian legislator called on the foreign ministry to show firm reaction against deployment of Saudi military forces in Bahrain and take strong stances and measures in defense of the rights and independence of the Bahraini people.

“The foreign ministry should take a strong position against the dispatch of the Saudi forces to Bahrain” and defend the people’s move and rule over the country, Mostafa Kavakebian said in an open session of the parliament on Tuesday.

God forbid this comes to something, the regional line-up is going to be Israel and Saudi Arabia versus Iran.  What’s impossible for me to know — I simply don’t have the sechel (Yiddish:  smarts) about Middle Eastern allegiances and alliances — is where the other countries, aside from Syria and Lebanon, both already Iranian proxies, will fall when the whole thing blows.  They all hate Israel, but their degrees of loathing for Saudi Arabia and Iran are going to determine which colors they wear in this fight.

I could say “I told you so” but, Cassandra-like, I don’t have the heart to utter those words.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

The Obama effect *UPDATED OFTEN*

Today, as I was reading the headlines (Middle East decompensating, Qaddafi slaughtering his own people, mass hysteria about Japan’s less-than-likely nuclear disaster, the collapsing American economy), I asked myself, “Why did this all have to happen on the incompetent Obama’s watch?”  I then realized that the question had the answer.

This all is happening because of the incompetent Obama watch.  Without a strong, intelligent hand in the White House, the structures that once held our world together are collapsing.  Even with regard to the earthquake and tsunami, as to which Obama had no control, his lack of leadership in playing down the nuclear hysteria is significant and plays out in the ongoing market collapse.

I called him an empty suit on the very first day he appeared on the political scene.  Although I’ve since added Leftist ideologue and affinity-to-Islam on the negative side of the Obama column, my fundamental premise hasn’t changed much.  He’s an empty suit — lazy, ill-informed, mean-spirited, tyrannical and totally incapable of true leadership.

(John Podhoretz makes the same point, only he does it better.)

UPDATE:  Rich Lowry also has the measure of the man:

Osama bin Laden famously talked of the weak horse and the strong horse. Obama is the show horse. As a U.S. senator, he distinguished himself more by saying things than by passing legislation. In the White House, he has replicated his role as the non-legislating legislator on a grand scale. His successes have been as the leader of the Democrats in Congress, although even here, the word “leader” applies only loosely. He set the broad goals and gave the speeches; otherwise, he let Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid run riot.

And here’s Jim Geraghty on Obama’s almost staggering fecklessness.  Read it carefully and remember that this is the person that a credulous, naive American population, guided by a cynical, dishonest media, handed the most powerful job in the world.

Keith Koffler, who bills himself as a totally independent, veteran White House reporter, makes much the same point.

Jennifer Rubin notes, though, that the Kool-Aid drinkers are still swallowing and dreaming about that Obama magic.

Ed Morrissey points out, as I did above, that the great communicator is utterly failing to communicate regarding the nuclear situation in Japan and the nuclear situation at home.

James Taranto too sees Obama’s apathy as an affirmative problem, not just an absence of action.

A behind the scenes deal?

Call me cynical, but….

I’ve opined frequently that, when push comes to shove, Obama will always hew to the strong man.  (Witness his dream of being President of China.)  With that in mind, consider this paragraph in John Podhoretz’s savage dissection of Obama’s press conference:

And what about doing something to help resolve the Libyan crisis in a way that might calm the oil markets? Oh, we are, we are! For example, we got our embassy personnel out of there. And we are making it clear to Khadafy that the “world is watching,” because, as we know, the Libyan maniac is very concerned about his global Gallup numbers.

Khadafy must be quaking in his boots to hear that the president “has organized a series of conversations about a wide range of options that we can take.” A series of conversations — now there’s something to strike fear in the heart of a merciless, murderous, monstrous dictator out to crush a rebellion.

But not to worry, America, we are “slowly tightening the noose” around Khadafy. This must be coming as news to Khadafy — since militarily he’s in better shape than he was five days ago. And not just militarily: Far from sounding more resolute yesterday, the president seemed to be signaling that he is prepared for Khadafy to remain in power.

Do you think that there’s a chance that this is more than just weak rhetoric but, instead, actually represents a deliberate plan to ensure that Khadafy remains in power? Recall that the Brits had a nice behind-the-scenes agreement with Khadafy to send the perfectly healthy Lockerbie bomber back home.

Does Obama’s bizarre, weak behavior regarding Libya represent his natural passivity, a passive-aggressive attempt to keep a strong man in power, or something arrived at working with Khadafy? The result is the same regardless, but I do wonder about the mechanics.

Our EUropean President

Is our President a EUrolander wannabee? Yes.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard my fellow Americans spout utter nonsense about EUroland.

Hey, they may have visited there and after visiting all the tourist spots and wining and dining in the best tourist restaurants afforded by American salaries and sabbaticals, they come home to proclaim that: “wow”, the food sure was great; the beer and wine were so much better; the museums were so cerebral; the architecture was really, really cool, and the public transportation so much more convenient than back home. And, get this, they have “free” healthcare and “free” retirement and “free” college education…why, EUrolanders must be living in paradise, so why can’t we be like them?

But, hey, what do I know? I just spent all my formative years, communicate with my family there and travel back regularly. No matter: it is so written in the Lefty Booboisie’s Temple of Orthodoxy that we must be more like EUrope, so any information to the contrary cannot be so and must be discounted. All reeeeasonable people know that EUrope is soooo much ahead of us in social justice. Que?

Of course, these fatuous fops of the Leftwing (I say “leftwing” because conservatives tend to be far more America-centric) booboisie never really lived the EUro experience. I maintain, based on experience, that you need to live in a country at least two years as an ordinary citizen to begin to look under the surface and understand it. A tourist’s, academic’s or exchange student’s view of Europe just will not suffice. Try explaining this to the American booboisie, convinced that the grass really is greener in the rest of the world, and you might as well talk to a brick.

Well, along comes Dan Hannan, EUro MP and American observor extraordaire to perfectly encapsulate my own understanding of EUroland (no, “Hannan” does not mean “Lemieux” in ye olde Anglo-Saxon) in a Wall Street Journal editorial.

According to Hannan, a big part of what drives Obama and his supporters is a warped mystical vision of Europe to which they aspire for us to be.

Key outtakes from Hannan’s piece:

  • Europe’s post-war growth was not due to a European miracle but to American largesse.
  • Europe is no longer a Democracy, but a top-down oligarchy that sees the will of the people as an obstacle to be ignored or overcome.
  • If we (the U.S.) need to stop going around the world apologizing for ourselves, we will create irreconcilable rifts not only with other countries but within our country.
  • EUropeanization means economic degradation and high structural unemployment and that, between 1980 and 1992, the EUro economy failed to create a net private-sector job. Whoops! We may already be there.

Hannan says it like it is. Ironically, he was an Obama supporter at first.

Of course, like here, the “free” bennies of EUroland are already unraveling and the mystical fog of Bismark’s socialist democrat visions is beginning to lift, revealing its ugly contradictions and endgames. Financial realities do have a brutal honesty about them.

Hopefully, we will get the message while we still have time to undo the damage of the Obamites and their EUrophilic visions. But, I think that it will be very, very close and at great cost to social and economic wellbeing.

Read the whole thing.

The Jewish joke answer to Obama’s religion

My sister, who is fairly non-political, thinks it’s a dreadful thing that so many Americans think Obama is a Muslim.  She was shocked when I suggested that Americans are not alone in this belief.  I started with a classic Jewish joke:

Sammy gets rich and buys himself a yacht.  He shows up at his Mama’s house in perfect yachting attire — a blue jacket and white cap, both with captain’s insignia.

“Look, Mama!  I’m a captain!”

His mother looks, and sighs.

“Sammy, by me you’re a captain, and by you you’re a captain but, tell me, by captains are you a captain?”

Substitute “Obama” for “Sammy”, and “Muslim” for “captain”, and the answer to Mama’s joke is a resounding “yes.”  Islam is a one way street.  If your daddy’s a Muslim or if you profess at any point in your life to being a Muslim, you’re a Muslim — forever.  The only way out is apostasy, and apostasy means death.

My strong belief is that Obama is an atheist and, given his Leftism, arguably quite hostile to the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Certainly the church in which he sat for 20 years didn’t offer the typical Christ-centric religious experience.  It worshiped at the book of Marx, with a heavy overlay of racial paranoia.  God was optional. To the extent he has an affinity for Islam, he likes its totalitarianism.  That’s Obama’s voluntary religious experience.

Obama’s involuntary religious experience is different:  He is the blood son of a Muslim, and he spent several years of his life being identified and raised as a Muslim.  This means that, regardless of his internal beliefs, “by Muslims, he’s a Muslim.”

Given Islamic and Obamanic hostility to Jews, there is a certain irony to all this:  Being Jewish is also entirely separate from ones beliefs.  Whether you want it or not, if you’ve got an ancestor who was Jewish, people will identify you as Jewish.  Nobody does that with Protestants.  That’s why I always tell my children not to be self-hating Jews.  German Jews quickly discovered that disavowing their roots didn’t help.  The American reaction to Obama shows that the same is true for the President raised as a Muslim when he was a child.

The imperial presidency

David Limbaugh does as good a job as any I’ve seen of explaining precisely what’s wrong with the President’s announcement that, because he disagrees with the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, he’s removing it from judicial purview.

Did Obama pull a Harry Truman? (No.)

I’ve always admired Harry Truman for his ability to go forward with moral acts despite the fact that these acts were at odds with his personal prejudices.  Although he was a good old fashioned Southern anti-Semite, in 1948, at the UN, he voted for the State of Israel, because it was the right thing to do.  Likewise, even though he was a good old fashioned Southern racist, he authorized the military’s integration, because it was the right thing to do.

Obama is a self-avowed proponent of traditional marriage, yet he has just announced that a federal law upholding traditional marriage is unconstitutional.  Is this a Harry Truman moment?  Is he putting aside his own prejudices to do the right thing?

Sorry, but no, it’s not a Harry Truman moment.  You see, Harry Truman didn’t flim-flam voters by promising never to support a Jewish state or an integrated military, and then changing his mind.  These were issues that arose out of the blue, so to speak, that were not part of a national debate, and that had never required Truman to sell his position — any position — to the American public.  They were deeply personal decisions for him:  do the right thing at that moment, or do the prejudiced thing at that moment.  He chose the former course both times, marking him as an ethically brave man.

Obama, however, sold the public a bill of goods.  He campaigned as a proponent of traditional marriage.  Jeffrey Anderson summarizes nicely:

President Obama has now decided that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional. Thus, the Obama administration says that it will no longer defend that federal law in court. On the campaign trail, President Obama repeatedly asserted that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Now, the president has apparently decided that his own view, at least when codified as federal law, is unconstitutional.

Rather than appearing Truman-esque, Obama simply increases the perception that he is a con man.  At the very least, if he’s had this kind of change of heart, he should be explaining to the public the reasoning behind the change.  He’s not making any such noises, though, because there are no such noises to make.

Bill Whittle’s scathing indictment of the Obama foreign policy

This is an extraordinary 9+ minute video.  Carve out the time to watch it.  But remember:  it’s not all Obama’s fault.  The American people elected this man.  They share the blame and the responsibility:

Hat tip:  Lulu

Obama wears the purple

In Roman times, purple was the Emperor’s color.  Today, it’s the color of the man who dreamed of being America’s Leftist king:

Is anybody else as creeped out by that video as I am?

And another question, which has nothing to do with unions — Do you get the feeling that Obama is hiding under the table as events in Libya unfold?

Hat tip:  American Thinker

The Obama administration at the U.N.

I’m so upset about what happened at the UN today, I can’t speak (or write).  Hot Air explains what happened:  after casting a veto against the Security Council’s vote on Israeli settlements, the U.S.’s Ambassador, Susan Rice, launched into a vitriolic attack that would have come easily from the lips of the Syrian or Iranian representative.

Omri Ceren wonders what Rice was trying to accomplishment.  While Rice and Obama may be confused in a hate-filled way, J.E. Dyer explains that the Islamic totalitarians in the Middle East understand that Rice just fired the starting gun in the race to Jerusalem.

And lastly, Jennifer Rubin points out that, whether because they were blinded by the Obama shell game (diddle around with the vote and then give an ugly speech) or because they’ve got their heads buried in their derrieres, Jewish groups in America haven’t made a peep about Rice’s appalling speech.  (By the way, Rubin notes the silence; I editorialized about the heads going where the sun don’t shine.)

I’m just sick about this.  I warned every Jew I knew what they could expect from Obama, but did they listen?  No!  Next to blacks, they were the largest single group to cast the majority of their votes for him.  Idiots!  Idiots!

But of course, if the semi-oil rich Middle East goes rogue on Obama’s watch, we all suffer, not just the Jews.


Muslim (and Obama administration) antisemitism

If you want a good lesson in the depth, breadth and virulence of Muslim antisemitism, Andrew Bostom provides it.  Then think long and hard about the fact that the current administration is siding with these Muslims at the United Nations.  I’m still struggling to come to terms with the appalling nature of the administration’s decision, and can’t quite decide what to write.  Others, though, have written about it:

Omri Ceren

John Podhoretz

Abe Greenwald

Rick Richman

Rick Moran

Guy Benson

Maetenloch at Ace of Spades

Jennifer Rubin (twice)

Jay Nordlinger

Bryan Preston

Bottom line:  the Obama administration is engaging in a noxious blend of appeasement (and we know how well that works) and the wonderful opportunity to slam Israel for the “disgust” it feels towards that nation.

Liberal makes lemonade from Obama’s lemon of a budget

It’s not often I get the pleasure of laughing out loud when I read a “serious” political piece, especially one from an Obama acolyte, but I have to admit that this one completely lifted my mood.  The author, David Kendall, at heart, seems to be an honest soul because he recognizes that there is nothing serious about the President’s proposed budget.  If he was less blinded by ideology, he might use that knowledge to understand that either (a) the President is an idiot or (b) the President has made the first move in a very dangerous game of chicken, with the United States standing in for the car that’s heading for the cliff.  Honesty, though, does not equal clarity and intelligence, so Kendall takes another tack altogether, and that’s what had me laughing.

What Kendall argues, with a perfectly straight face, boils down to this:  the budget is a great thing because its awfulness sparks a necessary dialog:

A president’s budget is only as good as the debate that it engenders. After all, Congress doesn’t even have to vote on it, and it rarely does.

Measured by this standard, President Obama’s budget is a resounding success. Republicans have tagged it as a job-killer. Deficit hawks say it doesn’t go far enough. Budget doves fear the impact of cuts to heating assistance and numerous other programs.

Even with the criticism, it nudges the debate forward. It brings Democrats to the table with tough but necessary cuts that move away from stimulus spending. It challenges Republicans with long-term investments to unclog highways, expand exports and produce clean energy. And it tees up a debate about entitlements and taxes by making it clear that incremental changes aren’t enough to bring the debt down to previous levels.

You can read the rest here, in which Kendall essentially gives his opinion what he would do if he controlled the budget.

All I could think as I read Kendall’s gushy lemonade was “Silly me, I thought that proposed budgets from the executive office were meant to be serious efforts to manage the nation’s finances. It never occurred to me that the President’s duty apparently began and ended with getting a good conversation going.”

Jack Cashill’s book about Obama’s books and life is on sale now

For two and a half years, Jack Cahill has been meticulously deconstructing the books published under Obama’s name, showing that it is highly unlikely that Obama wrote them.  I was never surprised.  Off teleprompter, Obama is singularly, not just inarticulate, but ugly in his speech.  That never jived with the narrative lucidity of his first book.  To be told that the book was more consistent with both Bill Ayers’ writing style and his life just made sense.

Here’s the link for Deconstructing Obama: The Life, Loves, and Letters of America’s First Postmodern President.

I’ll just add one more thing, which is that it continues to amaze me that almost no one from Obama’s past ever emerges, whether to say good things or bad about him.  No ex-girlfriends, ex-colleagues, ex-school friends.  There’s nothing there.  It’s as if the man never existed.

Niall Ferguson on Obama’s role in Egypt

I was remarkably silent on Egypt.  The situation was too fluid for me to grab a hold of.  I knew only that Obama’s policy would follow whoever seemed likely to win, since he will always hew to the strong man.  Now that it’s over, I was thinking of writing about the abysmal Obama performance (following, no clear ideological goal, confused and ever-changing messages), but I discovered that someone got there better and first.  You can read Niall Ferguson’s Newsweek article, or just watch the video as a reporter desperately tries to defend Obama, and Ferguson rips her apart:

Hat tip:  small dead animals

Obama suffers an empathy failure when it comes to Israel

Let’s think about Israel from the Israeli viewpoint for a minute, shall we?  It is, by any standards, an extremely small country.  Within its own borders, it is a sophisticated Western-style nation that leads the world in scientific innovation.  Its political system is a parliamentary style democratic republic.  Although its system isn’t perfect, no one questions the fact that it extends full civil rights to all citizens within its borders, regardless of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, or country of national origin.

Another fact about Israel?  A large part of the world wants to see it — and all its citizens — destroyed because the State of Israel is a Jewish state.  Europeans classify it as the most dangerous state in the world.  Israelis rightly suspect that the Europeans are wrong, and that there are, in fact, a few other states more dangerous than it is.  There is the Gazan state along its Western side, that has a charter that enshrines the desire to drive every citizen of Israel into the Mediterranean, presumably in a satisfying welter of blood.  There is also the West Bank, which has precisely the same goal.

To Israel’s north is Lebanon, which is controlled by Hezbollah.  Hezbollah, coincidentally, shares the Gazan state’s goal:  total Jewish genocide.  To her east are Syria and Jordon which, quelle coincidence, have precisely the same mandate.  Stretch yourself a little further and you find Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Libya and Oman all of which, again purely by coincidence, have as official or unofficial government policies a vociferously and repeatedly stated desire to reduce Israel and her citizens to dust and ashes.  To make things a little more exciting for our small republican democracy, Iran is on the verge of having a nuclear bomb.

Oh, and did I mention that the other states are tyrannical dictatorships that have not only expelled all Jews from their borders, but that also maintain their control on power by stirring the masses into an antisemitic frenzy?  They’ve learned that the Jewish scapegoat is always a useful way to deflect attention from ones own failings.

The only nation near Israel — and it’s a big nation — that hasn’t been baying for her blood for the past 30 years is Egypt.  The Israelis knew that Hosni Mubarak was an often-cruel dictator, but in that regard he was completely indistinguishable from the Middle Eastern leaders heading the other nations I’ve mentioned.  They knew that Egyptians weren’t doing so well under Mubarak’s leadership, but in that regard too those pathetic citizens are completely indistinguishable from most of the other Middle Eastern citizens around them.  What makes Mubarak — and therefore Egypt — different, is that Mubarak steadfastly held to the Camp David peace accords.  He allowed his citizens to become infected with the worst type of antisemitism, but neither he nor his military went in for a repeat of 1948 or 1967.

Looking at things from Israel’s view, Mubarak was a good thing for them, and no worse for his citizens than any other tyrannical Middle Eastern leader Muslims in the Middle EAst would inevitably have suffered.   He was a win for Israel, and a wash for his own citizens.  For Israel, his leadership was no harm and no foul.

Now let’s think about President Obama and his administration for a few minutes.  Obama is very empathetic, right?  I know this, because he assured us that empathy is an extremely important quality:

“I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.”

Or, as Clinton more pithily said, “I feel your pain.”

You’d think that, with his natural appreciation for empathy, President Obama would have felt for the Israelis when Egypt suddenly ran off the rails.  From their point of view, the existence of the Muslim Brotherhood within Egypt, yet another organization loudly and explicitly dedicated to Israel’s destruction, was an untenable risk.  Israel’s geographic isolation, and its neighbor’s homicidal antipathy, meant that Israel would invariably prefer the known Mubarak imp over the equally known, but infinitely more scary, Muslim Brotherhood devil any day.  And as I said, from the point of view of Egypt’s citizens, it’s six of one secular military dictatorships, versus half a dozen Islamic totalitarian dictatorships.  They’re screwed regardless.

But was Obama empathetic?  No.  Decidedly no.  Instead, he was — and I quote — “disgusted.”  Yes, the notion of a small, liberal, democratic republic looking at the possibility of yet another genocidal nation on its borders, rather than stirring the milk of human kindness in Obama’s veins, roused him to disgust (emphasis mine):

Rather than even listening to what the democracy youth in Tahrir Square were saying and then trying to digest what it meant, this Israeli government took two approaches during the last three weeks: Frantically calling the White House and telling the president he must not abandon Pharaoh – to the point where the White House was thoroughly disgusted with its Israeli interlocutors – and using the opportunity to score propaganda points: “Look at us! Look at us! We told you so! We are the only stable country in the region, because we are the only democracy.’’

The only pain, apparently, that Obama felt was ennui when forced to listen to people who are worried that, in the next few days, weeks or months, they will be subject to military attack from all sides.

Well, I have to confess that I too am empathetic.  You see, when I think of Obama and his administration, as well as their fellow travels at the New York Times, I know exactly what disgust feels like.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

You don’t DEMAND respect; you EARN respect

I find amusing Oprah’s insistence that Obama is entitled to respect because he’s struggling through a learning curve.  First, while there is always respect for the office, the man has to earn it.  Second, his learning curve is the whole problem.

Those of us who opposed Obama did so, not only because we disagreed with his politics, but because the man was going to take on the most important office in the world with zero experience in management, economics, national security, overseas dynamics, and all the other myriad issues for which a president is responsible.  If he’d been familiar with even some of those things, that would have been a head start, but he knew nothing.

Obama therefore doesn’t get any pass from me for his learning curve.  He — and the American people — just earned a little more disrespect for the arrogance of elevating this know-nothing to our highest office.

UPDATE:  Lincoln, who also had minimal experience, had eight miserable weeks to learn the job. He then spent the rest of his presidency earning our respect.

Barack Obama’s “understanding” of all things Muslim

When I was six years old, within a few short months, I went from having perfect vision to being extremely nearsighted.  I was discussing that fact with a friend today, and noted that I have no memory of ever having seen well without help from glasses or contacts.

This comment made me realize how little of our childhood sticks with us.  As adults, we have few large and coherent memories of our first five years.  From the years between six and ten, our memories expand, but they’re still spotty and they’re bounded by the limitations of our child-world, which boils down to school-life, home-life, and the occasional memorable vacation.

I grew up during a time of tremendous social and political upheaval (it was the 1960s and early 1970s, after all), but have only the most limited recollection of that time.  What I remember are my teachers (some of them), my school friends (some of them), the continuity of my home life (same mom, same dad, same sister, same house), and the highlights of my life (summers in Tahoe, a Renaissance Faire, my first trip to Disneyland).  For me, the Vietnam War boiled down to Walter Cronkite announcing the day’s dead and wounded on the news.  The Chicago Democratic Convention, which happened when I was 8, didn’t make it to my radar at all.  The hippies, who were a far-reaching social phenomenon, were simply smelly people to me.

I also had such a limited frame of reference that, when I heard information that fell outside my knowledge, I manipulated the information that so that it would mesh with my mental furniture.  My favorite example of this is the story of my Dad’s brother; or, rather, how I completely misinterpreted the story of my Dad’s brother.  My uncle was, apparently, a genius amongst geniuses.  In the years leading up to WWI, many of his teachers at Berlin’s Jewish gymnasium considered him to be the most brilliant student the school had ever produced.  Considering that this was a school that, for more than a hundred years had taught the academic Jewish students living in an academic German nation, that was saying a lot.

My uncle lacked drive however and made nothing of his brilliance.  Indeed, as I often told my friends, he ended up life as a janitor!  One day, when I was already in junior high school, my parents heard me telling this story and were, to say the least, perplexed.  It turned out he wasn’t a janitor at all.  Instead, he was a low level civil servant in the Danish government.  My confusion stemmed from the fact that my parents had given me his job title:  “Custodian of Foreign Property” or something like that.  In my youthful world, a “custodian” was a “janitor” — and so a story was born.

I wasn’t unique in that I really didn’t “get” what was going on around me, or that I put my own child-like spin on things.  The other night, when my husband went to kiss our 11 year old son goodnight, he found him punching himself in the stomach.  In response to a query from my husband, my son announced that Mom had told him that, if he wanted to get good stomach muscles, he should sock himself in the stomach.  My husband came to me to investigate this peculiar piece of body-building advice, and learned what I had really said:  “One of the good ways to improve your muscle tone (and get the six pack abs my son so desperately desires), is to suck in your stomach when you walk around.”

(I call this active walking, meaning that you simply keep your abs engaged as part of regular movement.  Up until two pregnancies wrecked havoc with my abdominal muscles, I could have been on the cover of one of those ab workout videos, so I know this technique works.)

Children are bright, observant and absorptive.  They also do not know how to process all of the information they take in, they do not always understand the information headed their way and, by the time they are adults, they’ve forgotten large chunks of their childhood.  That’s normal.  The developing brain is a wondrous thing, but it’s not a fully functional thing.  Also, as my little “janitor”/”custodian” story shows, children live in a very small world.  Their understanding is bounded only by their immediate knowledge.

Think about how children understand their little world, and then think about Barack Obama.  He lived in Indonesia from the time he was six until he was nine or ten.  He was part of an expatriate community, and went to a slightly more ecumenical school than would be the norm in a Muslim country.  Also, he was in an East Asian, not an Arab, Muslim country, one that, even today, is somewhat liberal by Muslim standards( starting with the fact that the women traditionally did not wear veils there).  His exposure to a rather singular type of Islam occurred at a time in his life when he was processing experiences through a very narrow, youthful frame of reference.

Nevertheless, David Ignatius assures us that this limited exposure, during a time in life when even the brightest child isn’t tracking things that well, makes Obama a Middle East expert:

As President Obama watched events unfold this past week in Egypt and the surrounding Arab world, he is said to have reflected on his own boyhood experiences in Indonesia — when the country was ruled by a corrupt, authoritarian leader who was later toppled by a reform movement.

Obama looks at the Egyptian drama through an unusual lens. He has experienced dictatorship first-hand, a world where “the strong man takes the weak man’s land,” as he quoted his Indonesian stepfather in his autobiography. The president came of age reading Frantz Fanon and other theorists of radical change. He is sometimes described as a “post-racial” figure, but it’s also helpful to think of him as a “post-colonial” man.

Based upon my memories of my own childhood, and my day-to-day observations of the children with whom I spend a great deal of time today, Ignatius’ take is just horse pucky. Unless Obama was a political savant, he was almost certainly unaware of or had, at most, limited awareness of the political and social dynamics in Indonesia.

It’s entirely possible that, as Obama grew older, his exposure to Indonesia as a child meant that, as an adult, he paid attention to Indonesian politics. That would make sense. But to say, as Ignatius does, that Obama, the former community organize, has the innate ability to negotiate the pitfalls of this Egyptian revolution because he lived in Indonesia when he was 7 or 8 years old is nothing more than an insult to our intelligence.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

And Mussolini made the trains run on time….

When I read that the Obama administration is good with having the Muslim Brotherhood on board in Egypt, because it’s really not such a bad organization, I keep thinking of 1930’s rationalizations about Mussolini:  He made the trains run on time.  Surely our standards of decency are higher than that?

Uh, no.  I guess not.

UPDATEYet another example of the “Mussolini was efficient” attitude.

Two questions for you about Egypt

1.  Faced with a popular revolt of the type we’re seeing in Egypt, can an American president make a difference?

My sense is that, while we’re certainly not going to drop bombs, the American president (any president, not just Obama) is such a vast presence that both his silence and his speech matter.  His bully pulpit is so large that, by appearing to support one side or another, either through silence or affirmative statements, he can affect the momentum within the other country.  What’s your point of view?  This is separate from whether Obama is being inept.  After all, if anything he does is meaningless theater, his ineptitude, if it exists, is irrelevant.

2.  What do you think will happen in Egypt?

I think that, while the average Egyptian on the street is not an Islamist (meaning he’s not committed to the Muslim Brotherhood’s jihadist goals), he really doesn’t know what he wants beyond not wanting the current situation.  That vagueness creates a vacuum, and I think the MB is poised to fill that vacuum.  If it does, I predict that, in four months, (a) Egypt will have sharia law; (b) Egypt will abrogate the treaty with Israel and attack; and (c) there’s a 50% chance that the Islamists will let their hostility to the Wets override their economic self-interest and shut down the Suez Canal.  Of course, if Mubarek can hang on long enough for a peaceful transition, maybe something good will come of all this.

The Egypt crisis; or, the Community Activist and foreign policy *UPDATED*

I was going to open this post with a snarky line about whether anybody with even marginal intelligence expected a 40-something community activist to have the necessary chops to deal with an international crisis of the type currently unfolding in Egypt.  Indeed, I think I still will:  Does anybody with an IQ over the single digits seriously believe that a former community activist and part-time legal lecturer has the skills and knowledge to handle the revolutionary disarray unfolding on Egypt’s streets right now?  No.  I didn’t think so.

Snark out of the way, I want to talk about something more profound than mere inexperience — and that’s Obama’s instinctive distrust of individual freedom.  His two years in office have shown us that, given the choice, Obama will invariably bow to whatever, or whomever, controls the government faction in a given country.

My sister suggested that this is because dictators tend to mean “peace,” albeit the peace of the grave.  Peace, no matter how ugly, means stability.  She’s got a point.  After all, the Soviet Union kept an iron grip on ethnic and tribal rivalries within its territory, all of which exploded once its grip loosened.

I think there’s something deeper going on here, though.  Barack Obama has demonstrated repeatedly that, for him, government is the only answer.  The bigger the government, the more admirable and answerable it must be.  And what could be bigger than a totalitarian dictatorship kind of government?

Obama has repeatedly demonstrated his (false) belief that, if he can just make nice to that government, and steer it to use its power for his Nanny-state version of good, rather than the government’s theocratic or Communist version of evil, all will be well.  It doesn’t seem to occur to him that a government that has ascended to the heights of totalitarian power, whether it’s the Norks, or Ahmadinejad, or Mubarak, or Chavez, is inherently evil.

Given that belief, it’s no wonder that Obama’s response to a revolutionary uprising by people under the thumb of a Big Government is to try to quell the uprising, and give his moral support to the Big Government.  Individual liberty baffles him.  Big Government — he thinks — is workable, if he can just turn on the Messiah charm.  Given his druthers, I suspect, he’d much rather deal with the Muslim Brotherhood (stable sharia big government), than the potential ugliness and fractiousness of a nation trying to feel its way towards individual freedom.

One of the things I remember reading in a Natan Sharansky book was the importance he attached to Ronald Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech.  What Sharansky said is that, when you live under totalitarianism, you are constantly being “gaslighted.”

For those of you too young to know what that phrase means, let me explain.  One of the great noire movies is Gaslight.  Ingrid Bergman plays a Victorian wife whose ostensibly benign husband is, in fact, trying to convince her that she’s insane.  He does that by constantly manipulating the reality around her — hiding things, denying events, etc. — so that she no longer trusts her own senses.

To “gaslight” someone, therefore, means to use lies and manipulation to convince him that his sense of reality is flawed and, quite possibly, that he is insane.  The psychiatric gulags in the former Soviet Union are a testament to how far the gaslighter will go to control his victim.

In the former Soviet Union, the citizens were constantly told that things were wonderful, that they were free, that housing and food were bountiful, and that their lives reflected the high quality one could expect in a true socialist nation.  This information wasn’t simply backed up by brutality, a force that tends to be a reality check.  Instead, it was the rah-rah propaganda backdrop of their lives:  school, movies, television, meetings, marches, etc. — all told them that the experience of their own five senses was a lie, contrary to the “true” Soviet reality.

Into this madhouse, came Ronald Reagan.  Reagan didn’t use polite language, he was uninterested in relativism, and didn’t pander.  Instead, he said “Evil Empire” — and millions of people under Communism’s boot said to themselves “Yes!  I’m NOT crazy.”  Knowing you’re not crazy feeds the soul.  You are energized and revitalized.  You can and will fight another day.

Obama refuses to speak of freedom.  He refuses to tell people they’re not crazy.  Instead, he leaves them in the funny house of Islamic dictatorships, struggling to mesh the knowledge their brain receives from its five senses with the nonsense touted in mosques, on televisions, in movies, etc.

Obama need not speak out against Mubarak, who has been something of an ally, and who certainly is no friend of the Muslim Brotherhood.  However, it would behoove him to speak in Democratic terms, no just about some gauzy “peace,” but about individual liberty.  He should encourage the government and the people to work together toward that goal.  Doing so will give Mubarak some wiggle room — that is, he can enact some face-saving policies — and it will enable the people on the streets to coalesce around a positive idea, as opposed to thrumming to raw rage.

Our elected community organizer, however, continues to trust that he can just organize those nasty little dictatorships into loving Big Governments.  He still dreams of the socialist paradise that no longer needs gaslighting to control its citizen’s lives.

Obama is the cause of these uprisings, because his weakness has created the cracks and fissures through which revolution explodes.  And Obama will be the cause of a significant decrease in world freedom, because that same weakness, coupled with his totalitarian inclinations, will ensure that the people or movement most committed to the restriction of individual liberty will invariably triumph.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UPDATE:  J.E. Dyer hones in on the enormous risks to America if America fails to act.

UPDATE II:  Welcome, Instapundit readers!  I happily castigated Obama in this post.  If you’d enjoy a snarky gear switch, so that you can learn why Al Gore is also to blame, here’s another post for you.

UPDATE IIIObama made his statement, and did reference certain freedoms we still take for granted in America.  I applaud him saying these things, but — picky me — think he still managed, for the most part, not to say as little as possible in democracy’s favor:

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, everybody. My administration has been closely monitoring the situation in Egypt, and I know that we will be learning more tomorrow when day breaks. As the situation continues to unfold, our first concern is preventing injury or loss of life. So I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protestors.

The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.

I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they’ve taken to interfere with access to the Internet, to cell phone service and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century.

At the same time, those protesting in the streets have a responsibility to express themselves peacefully. Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms that they seek.

Now, going forward, this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise. The United States has a close partnership with Egypt and we’ve cooperated on many issues, including working together to advance a more peaceful region. But we’ve also been clear that there must be reform — political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

In the absence of these reforms, grievances have built up over time. When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.

Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people. And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. What’s needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people: a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens, and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people.

Now, ultimately the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. And I believe that the Egyptian people want the same things that we all want — a better life for ourselves and our children, and a government that is fair and just and responsive. Put simply, the Egyptian people want a future that befits the heirs to a great and ancient civilization.

The United States always will be a partner in pursuit of that future. And we are committed to working with the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people — all quarters — to achieve it.

Around the world governments have an obligation to respond to their citizens. That’s true here in the United States; that’s true in Asia; it is true in Europe; it is true in Africa; and it’s certainly true in the Arab world, where a new generation of citizens has the right to be heard.

When I was in Cairo, shortly after I was elected President, I said that all governments must maintain power through consent, not coercion. That is the single standard by which the people of Egypt will achieve the future they deserve.

Surely there will be difficult days to come. But the United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free, and more hopeful.

About that Reagan analogy

The MSM never made any secret of the fact that it loathed Ronald Reagan.  Back in the 1980s, as an unthinking liberal, I too loathed Reagan.  The MSM’s unrelenting hostility to Reagan allowed me to feel that my views about the man were correct and that I was indeed an intellectually superior, insightful human being. Reagan was a stupid actor, a war monger, an enemy of the poor, a homophobe.  You could wade through his deepest thoughts without getting your ankles wet.  I thought it all; the MSM said it all.

Fortunately, not all Americans were as dumb as I was, as they elected the man, not once, but twice.

When Reagan died, the MSM, which I still watched sporadically back in 2004, was absolutely shocked that Americans turned out in such numbers to pay homage to Reagan.  It was clear that they expected his funeral to be a small affair, with a few jokes for old times sake about his Alzheimers having kicked in beginning in the 1940s.  Instead, thousands of Americans journeyed to Washington to file by his casket.  The national outpouring of grief, the sense that someone great had passed, was tremendous.

In the years since Reagan’s death, I haven’t detected any softening in the MSM’s attitude towards him until this very week.  You see, this week Obama’s troops in the MSM have a problem.  Obama is selling, but voters aren’t buying.  In the past, to help Obama sell his stuff, the MSM has resurrected famous presidents to find an analogy to Obama’s wonderfulness.

“Obama is Lincoln, and he’ll have a non-partisan cabinet!”  The most partisan president ever blew that analogy out of the water on practically his first day in office (“I won“).  Nor could the MSM find comfort in the fact that, in keeping with the Civil War idea, Obama does seem to be helping to move the country toward the rhetorical equivalent of a Civil War.

“Obama is FDR, and he’ll make sure that Happy Days Are Here Again!”  This analogy became a fail too, as it became clear that (a) Happy Days Are Not Here Again and (b) it turns out that the only way in which Obama is comparable to FDR is that the economy is getting worse, not better, under his watch.

“Obama is Kennedy, and he’ll bring class back to the White House!”  Whoops.  Another fail.  Obama and his high living wife are not classy, they’re trashy.  Also, even Boy Kennedy showed more courage than Obama when it came to acknowledging America’s enemies (Communists then; Islamists now), not to mention the fact that Kennedy actually seemed to like America.

This week’s trope, and it’s the most laughable one of all, is that Obama is Reagan!  Yes, you heard it through the MSM first.  Obama has secretly been emulating Reagan since the 1980s, his charm, his deep love of America, his commitment to American exceptionalism, and his abiding belief in the individual and the danger of big government.

At this point, you and I are laughing hysterically.  This is akin to announcing that Michael Vicks, at an early age, committed himself to the teachings of St. Francis; that Jeffrey Dahmer found Gandhi a compelling figure because of his vegetarianism; and that Lady GaGa has always seen Mother Theresa as a role model.

Clearly, the MSM is desperate.  But, despite its decline, it still has a bully pulpit.  A more shabby, less loud pulpit than ever before, but a bully one all the same.  Most Americans are, in some way or another, exposed to the MSM.  For those of us who are ideologically strong and are paying attention, it’s easy to slough off its nonsense.  And given enough time, Americans have shown that they’ll figure out the lies.  I’m wondering, though, how long it will be before ordinary Americans (that is, the ones who aren’t as politically obsessed as we are) figure this one out, and how many foolish people will remain trapped forever in this nonsense.

I’ll leave you with two famous quotations attributed to two famous Americans, one of whom Obama is not much like (Lincoln) and one of whom he is a great deal like (Barnum):

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Obama’s addiction to government

Charles Krauthammer is under no illusions about Obama.  The MSM can try to make as many silly Reagan analogies as it wants, but Obama is still a tax and spend liberal.

Post SOTU open thread *UPDATED*

I didn’t watch the SOTU speech last night.  Both my kids had lots of homework, and needed lots of help, and that trumped anything Obama might have said.  Later . . . well, the moment was gone.  I didn’t want to sit in my office late at night, staring at a long, long, long speech.  And today, nope, it’s not going to happen.  Life goes on.

I have, however, been reading reviews about the speech.  My facebook friends, almost all liberals, think it was brilliant.  The views on the conservative blogosphere are mixed, ranging from claims that it was meaningless and mediocre, to surprise that he actually made noises as if he liked this country.  All agree, however, that Obama’s vision revolves around more and more, and still more, government.

It struck me reading about the speech (as opposed to actually hearing or reading the speech, so please keep that distinction in mind) that everyone, in one way or another, made the same point:  Beyond a few throwaway lines, Obama didn’t talk about America, her people, resources, goals and purpose.  Instead, he talked about government.  Obama is a bureaucrat.  To him, at the end of the day, the only true American resource is its government.  The people and natural riches in this nation are widgets that exist to fuel government’s efforts.

This is a very different view from that held by many Americans, which is that government should be subordinate to the people.  It should be a tool that exists to power us.  Certainly that was the vision the Founders signed off on in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….

The Founder’s viewed government as subordinate to men; Obama views men as subordinate to government.  This doesn’t mean he envisions men as slaves or vermin.  It simply means that he has what I consider an inverted hierarchy when it comes to the relative importance of citizens and their government.

What do you think?

Oh!  One more thing:  The headlines in the Chron is “Obama’s call for ‘our generation’s Sputnik moment.'”  That’s just a disastrous sound byte.  Obama calls for America to be like the Soviet Union in the 1950s.  Regardless of what he actually said, that phrase is going to be the message that sticks.  That isn’t soaring rhetoric; that’s an embarrassing dream of totalitarian statism.

UPDATE:  James Taranto also thinks the “sputnik moment” was a rhetorical failure, although it turns out to have quite a long history in Thomas Friedman’s little corner of the flat earth.

President Obama, you’re no Jack Kennedy

One of the selling points for Barack Obama was that he and his wife would be the new Kennedy dynasty:  young, attractive, articulate and Democratic.  They were Jack and Jackie all over again.  As with so many things about the Obamas, that was completely false hype.  Indeed, a closer look at JFK and Jackie shows that, if anything, the Obamas are the un-Kennedys.

I got that closer look last night when I watched a new HBO documentary, JFK : In his own Words, based entirely upon day-to-day footage shot during Kennedy’s campaign and presidency.  Alec Baldwin’s narrative was minimalist.

What is so striking is how not Kennedy-esque the Obamas are.

John Kennedy was a man of tremendous wit, which he used to turn aside barbs, make political points, and charm voters.  Obama is a man without wit.  To the extent he makes “jokes,” they are invariably vicious rejoinders against political opponents.

John Kennedy was erudite.  As recent historical records show, he may have been passive about applying to Harvard but, somewhere along the line, he picked up a sophistication and knowledge that came through clearly in both his speeches and his asides.  Obama has repeatedly demonstrated a mind devoid of the furniture that makes for an erudite, educated Western man.

John Kennedy was experienced.  As he repeatedly boasted, despite his youth, he’d seen active service during World War II and served 14 years in the US Senate.  Obama wrote a book (maybe).

John Kennedy was not afraid of naming and calling out the enemy.  When it came to the Soviets, he was a hawk on steroids.  He may have muffed the Bay of Pigs, but he didn’t blink on the Cuban Missile Crisis.  He talked freely and openly about Communism’s evils and the threat it posed to America’s freedoms.  He was not politically correct, and he was not afraid to speak out for his values.  I actually think Obama is the same.  The only difference is that, in Obama’s world, America is the evil one, and he’s not ashamed to speak out against her, especially when he’s speaking to people who dislike or hate her.

John Kennedy showed courage when it came to defending his values and his nation.  Obama shows courage when it comes to defending himself.

Even when it comes to vices, Obama falls short.  Kennedy was an enthusiastic womanizer.  Obama doesn’t seem to like them very much.

And as for the missus, while Jackie had a look of perpetual wonderment about her (that open-mouthed, bovine smile seemed to say “Wow!  Am I lucky”), it’s rare for Michelle to abandon her angry, sullen demeanor.

So, I’ll borrow Lloyd Bentsen’s snarky, and inappropriate insult to Dan Quayle, an insult that is entirely apropos here:  “President Obama, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”