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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Major League

Think back for a moment to January, 2009. In the afterglow of his election as President of the United States, Barack Obama told those who honestly believed he was the embodiment of hope and change that the world would be a different place. Under his guidance and all-encompassing insight and knowledge, our enemies would sit down with us and recognize that Obama's wisdom was the definitive path to a peaceful and evolved world, Islam would join the West in a harmonious advance, the need for military solutions to intractable problems (wait, there are no intractable problems) would disappear, talk would be a a good substitute for action, grand pronouncements would replace well-defined strategies, and yes, climate change would be arrested. And those who had the temerity to disagree—well, they were "on the wrong side of history."

Almost seven years later, the editors of the The Wall Street Journal consider the general chaos throughout the Middle East, the new pact between Russia and Iran, the continuing tension with China, the flood of refugees into the EU. The WSJ editors comment:
Even as he concedes the growing world disorder [in his UN speech yesterday], Mr. Obama still won’t admit that his policy of American retreat has created a vacuum for rogues to fill. He exhorted the U.N. on Monday that “I stand before you today believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion. We cannot look backwards.”

Oh, yes we can, as the once promising world order deteriorates on Mr. Obama’s watch.
In the outstanding Netfix political drama, House of Cards, there was a sequence of episodes in which a Russia leader [a Putin-like character] meets with the American President—Frank Underwood. The Russian tried to man-handle Underwood. The Russian's approach is brutal, duplicitous and oddly effective, except that Underwood is a major league player as well—as brutal, duplicitous and oddly effective as the Russian.

The interaction between Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama conjures memories of the fictional House of Cards standoff, except one of the players has a vastly different skill level. As I watched these two men shake hands, I got a uneasy feeling that there is a mismatch—that our team has fielded a little league pitcher (Obama) who is trying to strike out a major league hitter (Putin). I felt a twinge of embarrassment for the United States.

Addressing the WSJ editorial, a commenter, "Kenneth Gimbel," writes:
The world slowly implodes while Sir Barry entertains the assembled miscreants, thugs, war lords, sponsors of terror, kleptocrats and petty tyrants that is the U.N. with homilies and platitudes. Our shining knight, swathed in smug moral certitude and confident of his superior vision stands impotently aside while those with a less exalted ethos swallow up country after country, region after region. Obama is a disaster for America and a catastrophe for the world.
Stated metaphorically, Barack Obama is a little league player trying to make it in a major league world. It's not going well.