ARCHIVE - AUGUST 2014
The Best of The Best
Who is America's
OF MINSTRELS AND JESTERS
2014/08/27 - Last week President Obama gave what was intended to be a serious speech about ISIS and the beheading of James Foley. The sombre gathering ended at precisely 12:57 p.m., yet only a mere eight minutes later, at 1:05 p.m., Obama was clowning around on the golf course with some entertainers and other folks from his posse.
Naturally, people were shocked and appalled. And by "people" we mean, well, people. Everyone. From all walks of life, from all political stripes, even the apolitical who don't normally tune in. Finally, Obama did something to unite us - the nation let out a collective gasp, wondering what's wrong with this guy.
Behind the lectern the President struck a tone of grim resolve. Then, discordantly, upon completion of his remarks, he dashed to the links, bursting the serious mood like sticking a needle into a balloon - as though it was a gag, as if he was just setting us up to deliver a punch line to get some cheap laughs. Rather than lying low afterwards and allowing his words to linger, leaving us to ponder the gravity of the situation we face, instead we saw images not of a grim, determined President, but of a gleeful kid chasing an ice cream truck.
A picture is worth a thousand words, as everyone knows, everyone, that is, except Barack Obama. He lives in a world where his speeches are his reality - no need to walk the talk, there is nothing but talk. But for the rest of us, the pictures of Obama on the golf course gutted his words, rendering them meaningless, if not downright comical. If the situation is serious, then at least pretend to act serious. How can Americans take him seriously, and if we cannot, why would ISIS, Putin, Boko Haram or any other of our foes, or even our competitors, or our allies? How can he even negotiate a trade deal when he can't be taken seriously?
So Bill Burton, a DC insider who made a strong case that he knows what it means to be disconnected from reality inside the DC bubble, contributed an op-ed to Politico to say there's nothing wrong with golf, and he commanded us to stop complaining about it. You always know that someone is losing an argument when they introduce a straw man, and there it is: "Golf isn't bad". Thanks for sharing that with us, Bill, but, no one is bothered by a President playing golf, in fact we expect it. But there is a time and a place and a manner for everything.
Actions speak louder than words. The golf course spoke louder than the speech. Obama chums with clowns, and now is starting to act like one. His Administration is turning into bread and circuses. Handouts and pop culture. That’s all this administration can conjure up.
If a group of Defense and/or State Department officials were on Martha's Vineyard and Obama had gone indoors after the speech to smoke cigars, play poker and talk geopolitics with some Generals while Press Secretary Josh Earnest informed us they were planning strategies to attack ISIS, we would have been satisfied, and ISIS would have been genuinely worried instead of rolling on the floor laughing. If Obama had later played golf with those State and Defense people while "further discussing military, economic and diplomatic options" with his foursome we would have been impressed.
But instead, Obama decides to "Send in the Clowns". They say a man is known by the company he keeps - in Obama's case, minstrels and jesters. Singers and actors. Circus clowns.
It was easy for him to be President, effectively a Dictator, in a single-party state where he could force legislation like Obamacare on us back when the Democrats ran everything. Then he got shellacked and had to start leading like a real American President. But sharing power is obviously not his thing, now he just seems to want to amuse himself with games, entertainment, pop culture. And all the things he can still have with the snap of a finger.
Obama's presidency is in shambles. More and more, it seems as though he loves being President but hates doing President.
2014/08/21 - Could the day ever come that Maureen Dowd would steal Chalprem's thunder? That she would beat us to the punch, and say the same thing that we were about to say? Literally take the words right out of our mouth?
On Monday Ezra Klein over at Vox published one of those so-2008-esque defenses of Obama. You know, the kind where his policy failings are actually our failings, not his. That it is we who have failed him, that we have failed this brilliant leader upon whom has come the end of the ages.
While pondering what angle we would take in response to Klein's vivid nonsense - there are so many angles to choose from - Dowd came out and squished him. She basically said Obama is a lousy President, not a person well-suited for the job. A skills mismatch. As Human Resource departments like to say, he's PURE - a Previously Undetected Recruiting Error.
Well, that was one angle - PURE - down the drain. Obama is just not qualified. Wrong instincts, wrong personality, wrong experience, wrong skills. Like assuming a good golfer could be a chest master. Putin, ISIS, Iran - everyone - is playing chess, while Obama isn't even playing checkers, he's playing golf.
Another point of dispute with Klein is that a majority of Americans, according to Gallup, do not believe the President is honest. Never mind competent, he isn't trustworthy. He has broken the bonds of trust. Someone who is not who he said he was. Perhaps he is spur-of-the-moment, used-car-salesman, little-white-lie dishonest; or perhaps strategically calculatingly dishonest; or sociopathic not-firmly-grounded-in-reality dishonest; or some other kind of dishonest; but in any case not trustworthy. We now see him as a person who bears little resemblance to he claims to be.
The pre-election Obama spoke of bridging divides, words all Americans hoped were true. The post-election Obama is the one who said "elections have consequences" - and so has he ruled, with contempt towards those who disagree with him.
When Obama criticizes Republicans, he speaks from the heart like he seldom otherwise does. Even ISIS does not bring out the same passion. He speaks sternly toward ISIS, in tones he might use when scolding his daughters Malia or Sasha.
But conservatives? He genuinely, honestly believes that conservatives are ill-willed creatures, motivated by malice towards America and Earth. Worse than ISIS. He sees himself as Will Smith in "Men In Black" or "Independence Day". He ought to despise such evil, thus he has no need to look within himself and question his antipathy for Republicans. He views conservatism as an illness and has likened it as such. It is his duty to eradicate Republicans, to save the United States, and indeed, planet Earth.
The pre-election Obama hid his contempt for his adversaries; the post-election Obama oozes contempt toward those he disagrees with. A President succeeds by earning the trust of his opponents, a trust he can then use to earn concessions. Trust, however, is something Obama has never thought valuable. President Obama fails where then-Senator Obama had succeeded - in the matter of trust. Then, we gave him the benefit of the doubt. Now, his words mean nothing. That's why there are no great speeches left, because there is no trust left.
That is the tragedy of the Obama Administration - the "unique gift" (to abuse Klein's phraseology) was one given to Obama by the American people, a gift of trust, of hope, of the benefit of doubt. But rather than vindicating that trust, he has betrayed it.
Yet Ezra Klein still can't figure out why President Obama divides America, rather than uniting us like Senator Obama promised. It's because his opponents view the pre-election Obama was an imposter - in fact almost all Americans are coming to that conclusion, even liberals like Maureen Dowd. Except Ezra Klein, he just can't... understand... bitterly clinging to his illusion of who he wishes Obama was. Ezra, it's over.
2014/08/15 - Compared to other places on earth, the United States has a rather brief, uneventful history. We start in 1492, fast forward to July 4, 1776, slow down, then fast forward again with a slowdown in the 1860's, then skip to December 7, 1941, go slow for a bit, then fast forward again to today with only a brief pause in 2001. That's about it. Our borders, though poorly guarded, are undisputed and unthreatened. Not much goes on here.
Most other countries trace their history much further back, and their histories span many more events. Not surprisingly, though we usually ignore this crucial fact, their people place a much higher degree of importance on their historical events than on ours.
If you grew up in the Middle East you have probably never heard of the "shot heard 'round the world", and the "day that shall live in infamy" is not alive at all. And your day of infamy is an entirely different day. If you grew up in northern Africa, your day of infamy might be what we call October 10, 732. If you grew up in Anatolia, your 9/11 might actually be in our year of 1683. Maybe that's why Osama bin Laden picked that date.
Which lays out the problem with President Obama's foreign policy perspective, assuming there's something beyond "don't do stupid stuff" - he seems to think that anyone on earth who is not one of those mean-spirited Republicans, is just like him. Everyone else has the same background, the same motivations, and thus makes the same calculations. In the United States that might be sufficiently true to win an election; in the rest of the world that's absurd.
Has Barack Obama ever considered what someone's world view might be like for whom the dates 7/4/1776, 11/19/1863, 12/7/1941 and 9/11/2001 mean nothing? For whom the dates 10/10/732 and 9/11/1683 are rife with meaning, and passion? Their world view would not be much like Obama's. But he doesn't seem to grasp that. In Obama's head, it seems to go like "They must be like me, because they are not Republicans".
Here in America our borders are settled. Atlantic, Pacific, Canada, Mexico, Gulf. Simple. Does any country on earth have a better geopolitical status quo than we do? Why wouldn't we value peace? But what about people from lands whose borders have ebbed and flowed throughout the course of history? For these people, peace is rarely attainable, or even desirable - frequently neither, but almost never both.
Why do we conduct our foreign policy - diplomatic and military - as if every other country shares our culture, and our history, our objectives, and has the same level of satisfaction with their status quo? What if the people of the mideast really want war with the West?
What if Hillary Clinton was right when she said "Their raison d’etre is to be against the West"?
What if George W. Bush was wrong? What if repressive secular dictatorships - the Mubaraks, the Assads, the Saddams - are the least worst option in order to minimize domestic bloodshed, international warfare, and global chaos?
What if all of Obama's calculations about the Mideast are completely wrong? What if they hate their enemies more than they love their children? What if it's time to embrace domestic petroleum, become energy self-sufficient, and pursue peace, prosperity and happiness with willing partners in Africa?
OF HIllARY AND THE ATLANTIC
2014/08/11 - We recently wrote of the fading Jacksonian wing, and the ascendent Wilsonian wing, of the Democratic Party. Thus it was a trip down memory lane for Hillary Clinton to interview with Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic and make the bygone case for her Jacksonian foreign policy. Is she unaware that her party has moved on, that she's yesterday's news?
For someone who has not yet announced her candidacy never mind secured her party's nomination, the positions she staked out were presumptive and far removed from the core of the Democratic base. She believes in an active, goal-oriented foreign policy; they do not. The extreme left base that now dominates the Democratic Party has no strategy for standing up to the jihadis, nor does it want one.
The cause of the jihadis of course is to pick up where Abd-al-Rahmân left off when he lost to Charles Martel at Tours in 732, to pick up where Kara Mustafa left off when lost to Sobieski at Vienna in 1683. And the far left of the Democratic Party offers nothing in response. They have no grasp of the flow of history, only "peace for our time" which always creates the very circumstances it hopes to prevent.
In making the case for a fopo a bit more proactive and substantive than Obama's capitulation, Clinton justifies her positions with assertions like "vacuums get filled by some pretty unsavory players"; and of these players she says "Their raison d’etre is to be against the West".
We wouldn't disagree with what she laid out - which may or may not be the real Hillary Clinton - but the problem is that the metastasized Wilsonians that infect her Party would vitriolicly disagree with her. She is more or less begging Elizabeth Warren for a primary because... she wants to prove she really can win a primary?
Besides laying out a foreign policy with a bit more ooomph than Obama's, Clinton also used the space to spin a rehabilitation of her time as the chief diplomat of the world's number one power. How did someone who is now espousing such strong views embrace and guide such a rudderless, feckless, incoherent and spineless foreign policy?
As we all know, the world basically blew up on her watch. But she managed to find scapegoats for all her failures - Libya is Europe's fault, Syria is Obama's fault, Iraq is Bush's fault, fault for ISIS lies with both Bush and Obama, Russia is Putin's fault, Gaza is Hamas' fault, Egypt is Morsi's fault, and on it goes. And of course nothing is Netanyahu's fault because... well, because her donors said so.
It was interesting to see her talk past the base. And if she gets a primary, don't be surprised if her foreign policy stance goes back to taking credit for the feckless foreign policy that she executed for four years, and is now trashing.
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