Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Foreign Policy, Immigration, National Security, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, Unemployment | Tags: President Barack Obama, The Obama Agenda, Weak and Feckless
If you read a lot of headlines, it would seem the Americans are really angry. But what are they angry about? If man-on-the-street interviews are to be believed (Obviously six or eight participants are not a meaningful sample) they don’t know what they are talking about. Or do they?
Matthew Continetti summed it up nicely in one paragraph in the Weekly Standard.
What is happening in the world? When one looks at recent news, one can’t help feeling a sense of bewilderment. A storied Olympian announces his new gender on the cover of Vanity Fair, the Supreme Court declares same-sex marriage a constitutional right, racial violence returns to St. Louis and Baltimore, police are ambushed and murdered in New York City and Houston, murder is on the rise, Democratic candidates apologize for saying all lives matter, “trigger warnings” precede the teaching of Ovid at university, the president unilaterally amnesties millions of illegal immigrants, politically correct mobs use social media to silence dissent and intimidate heretics, hundreds of thousands of migrants flood into Europe, a slowing Chinese economy causes volatility in the U.S. stock market, more than 70 percent of Americans say they are unhappy with the direction of the country, and the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination is a billionaire television star who promises to deport illegal aliens, oppose free trade, raise taxes on hedge funds, and establish a national health plan where “you can get everything in Obamacare, but much more.”
And it’s all true. I could, however have written an entirely different paragraph with different worries that would be equally true. People have been shocked by the sheer barbarism of ISIS, and nobody does anything to stop it. Or is it the regulations that are imposed on us by executive order rather than by the people we elected to Congress. We thought that people of other races were melding ever more completely into American society, and instead we have riots and killings and a breakdown of law enforcement relations with American blacks. China is building a military base in the middle of the South China Sea on islands they are building on some reefs. Russia is invading the Ukraine, threatening the Baltic States, claiming the North Pole as its own territory. And the president is urging the EPA on in its quest to shut down he coal-fired power plants providing 40 percent of our electricity in favor of wind farms and solar arrays that produce very little energy at enormous expense in taxpayer subsidies. That’s just a few of mine, and I’m sure you could each come up with your own list.
Here are four important voices explaining why we are where we are:
— Victor Davis Hanson: Is Obama Correctable? Here and abroad, the Obama administration damages whatever it touches.
— Richard A. Epstein: The Consequences of Obama’s Weakness
Bad consequences follow when a United States President thinks that he an counter forces of terrorism and world disorder on the cheap without the use or threat of ground forces.
— Noah Rothman: The Culmination of Obama’s Indulgent Foreign Policy Much ink has been wasted over the course of this presidency attempting to identify (or to invent) something that could be reasonably considered an Obama doctrine.
— Walter Russell Mead: Fecklessness 101: The endgame in Syria: Apparently the Obama administration turned down a Russian offer to dump Assad…because the Administration was sure he was going to fall on his own.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Iraq, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: "No Victor-No Vanqished", "Obama on the World", The Obama Agenda
On August 8, Friday, The New York Times published an interview with the president by Thomas Friedman, titled a bit grandiosely “Obama on the World.” Mr. Friedman is a long-time admirer of Mr. Obama, so it is a gentle interview that allows the president to fully express his successes (many) and failures (very few). It’s hard to know just what to make of it.
Obama made clear that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that the different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished.
At the end of the day, the president mused, the biggest threat to America — the only force that can really weaken us — is us. We have so many things going for us right now as a country — from new energy resources to innovation to a growing economy — but, he said, we will never realize our full potential unless our two parties adopt the same outlook that we’re asking of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds or Israelis and Palestinians: No victor, no vanquished and work together.
America, he believes, is dysfunctional, and societies don’t work if political factions take maximalist positions. Oh please. Just explain yourself in straightforward prose — all of Obama’s problems derive from the nasty Republicans who won’t do what he says. Can he possibly believe that a clever new phrase will allay centuries-old enmity that has had Muslim tribes killing each other ever since the sixth century?
Scott Johnson, over at Powerline, apparently had the same misgivings. He said: “I asked the person who is perhaps the most worldly-wise man I know if he could comment on Obama’s interview with Obama apostle Tom Friedman as related …in the Times article “Obama on the World.” His acquaintance responded that he had wondered about this viewpoint.
He said both James Baldwin and Martin Luther King Jr. separately and in other contexts said something about “ignorance allied with power” being the worst imaginable combination. I just read a piece by Angelo Codevilla, which began with a similar quotation: “Combining the unbridled tongue with the unready hand.” Thus did Theodore Roosevelt define statesmanship at its worst. This is what America’s bipartisan ruling class is giving us.
Scott Johnson’s unidentified worldly-wise man continued:
I think with Obama it starts with ignorance which in his formative years became a required doctrine of the intelligentsia when it came to understanding the way the world works in matters of international security; to be considered politically correct you had to spurn and despise such painfully developed concepts and practices as the balance of power, the necessity of using strength and diplomacy in tandem, etc.
This was allied with a personal drive for High Moralism, the felt need to build a castle around yourself behind a moat of 12-foot thick walls from behind which you could shoot moral arrows at everyone else to demonstrate your superiority and quickly destroy any emerging criticism of yourself. So from this position of invincible ignorance allied with moral perfection and then allied with power, you could become able to cross a line in history to reach a new world shaped by your conviction of your perfected sensibility.
This would mean, 1.) taking the US out of its despicable role of world leadership, which has been immoral and has caused almost all the world’s problems over at least the past century, and 2.) “Transforming” America into a country moral enough to be worthy of you, a kind of big Belgium. As the wicked of the world have refused to fall into line behind this vision, it has made the president increasingly sour and feeling put upon.
At this point he has been forced to do something like take a presidential decision of the kind that all previous presidents have known they would have to take– the “hard decisions” recognized by the president’s hero Reinhold Niebuhr but never recognized by the president. So he has been forced by events to do it. But he didn’t want to do it. And he keeps making it clear that he is determined not to do it in an effective way, to assure our enemies of the many things he will never do, and to sulk about it for the foreseeable future as he relates his unappreciated fate to those who share his feelings, like Tom Friedman.
This makes sense to me. We on the right side of the political spectrum spend way too much time trying to understand the left — how they think, what they understand and what they don’t understand — because they just don’t seem to make sense. That is correct. They do not make sense. The philosophizing and moralizing that are such an animating factor and seem so formidable in the hot house of the faculty lounge — don’t work well out in the real world.
They are not operating in the real world. They don’t do their homework. “High moralism” just doesn’t cut it. It’s all very nice to come up with a new phrase — “no victor, no vanquished”— or you just have to compromise, and if you don’t, we’ll wash our hands of you. This is not exactly a viable foreign policy.
Obama told Mr. Friedman that the “extremist ideology” that’s taken over the GOP, the “balkanization of the media has blocked my agenda.” What agenda is that? Can’t everybody just get along — is not an agenda. It’s not even an idea, but simply a platitude.
Tom Friedman apparently spent the weekend mulling things over. This morning he said we are absolutely clueless in the Middle East. That’s about right.