The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Just Pathetic

Throughout his campaign and into his presidency, Barack Obama criticized the preceding administration for its lack of sensitivity to the Muslim world, its almost total lack of outreach to the Palestinians and other Arab dictatorships, and it’s confrontational approach toward Islam’s most potent country, Iran. In Cairo, early in his presidency, the President apologized for the West’s treatment of Islam. Only this week, in discussing a Ramadan dinner he will host at the White House he suggested that it "remind[s] us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam's role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."

Really? It’s tempting to suggest a few counter-examples, but let’s not get off-track.

It’s interesting to note how all of this outreach is working out. The Christian Science Monitor reports:
The Brooking's poll, conducted with Zogby International in late June and early July in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and Jordan found that "positive" views of Obama among Arabs had slipped from 45 percent to 20 percent in the past year, and that his "negatives" had soared from 23 to 62 percent.

Meanwhile, the Asia Timesreports on the results of a poll of citizens of Arab countries:
When respondents were asked to name the world leader they admired most, Obama's standing was less than 1%. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was cited most often (20%), followed by last year's top pick, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (13%), and Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (12%).

So, a holocaust-denying thug who murders his own citizens for political dissent, advocates the stoning of women for adulterous behavior, continually threatens to vaporize Israel, and tweaks the United States at every opportunity polls at 12 percent and the President—“less than 1 percent.”

So much for the benefits of sensitivity.

Richard Fernandez of The Belmont Club comments further:
The hope that appeasement would be rewarded by respect has earned the President a kick in the nose. Perceived strength generates its own legitimacy in rough places; Arabs who have traditionally feared Persia now believe it has a right to build nuclear weapons. They have watched Iran push the President’s flaccid arm down to the table and drawn their own conclusions. The policy of apologizing for America has not won friends or influenced people; it has not even delegitimized Iranian expansionism. It has produced the contrary result.

One can only wonder whether Barack Obama has learned anything from all of this. My own view is that he has not, that the “outreach” mime is so strongly held that he is unable to adapt his behavior to the realities of a difficult and dangerous world populated by vicious adversaries.

And yet, his supporters in the media, along with those on the Left who refuse to belief his ineptness is real, continue to praise his outreach. They continue to believe that words and phrases can change the behavior of bad actors on the international stage, much like “hope and change” did with the American electorate in November of 2008. Again Richard Fernandez comments:
Belief in magic and faith in spells runs strong in political Washington. The New Republic’s print edition describes the reaction of the Administration on “April 14, 2009 as Barack Obama’s standing in the polls was beginning to slip”. Obama was looking for a phrase to bring back the love, “something that would evoke comparisons to Theodore Roosevelt’s Square Deal, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.”

Obama had hit on the phrase the New Foundation. He tried it out with Presidential historians at a private dinner in the White House. Doris Kearns Goodwin nixed it. She said it sounded “like a woman’s girdle”. Goodwin was right. But it underscores the complete vacuity of a public policy built on wordsmithing. The administration was trying on words like a courtier at Versailles might try on a hat or a dress thinking it would make a difference.

Not that there is anything wrong with hats or dresses or deckchairs. The only thing wrong is imagining that rearranging these articles on the deck of the Titanic will keep it afloat. There’s something crazy about that, something pathetically crazy.

Nah, just pathetic.