Sunday, September 27, 2009
Up until now I had believed that Barack Obama was simply naive in his belief that earnest persuasion could turn America's enemies into friends. Unfortunately, disturbing possibilities are presenting themselves as far more plausible than the "Pollyanna" theory of what makes Obama tick.
Obama's record of offending and snubbing America's allies and cozying up to long time enemies is so unblemished as to constitute a reliable pattern. It is hard to believe that President Obama has not enacted a major realignment in foreign policy. This is a polite way to avoid saying that he has switched sides, which is the only way to absolve him of charges of dazzling ineptitude.
Benyamin Netanyahu addressed the United Nations with a simple presentation of fact, that far from being guilty of war crimes, Israel had pioneered in modern warfare the art of surgically precise bombing strikes. I have heard charismatic speeches in my years of following politics. Netanyahu has a style that I find mostly subdued with flashes of genuine emotion. He has accomplished in the history of modern oratory the charisma of facts. In a world of falsehood, there is a shaking resonance to plain truth that puts to shame platitudes dressed in oratorical finery.
There was unfortunately a glaring factual omission in Netanyahu's oratory. Despite his thundering refutation of holocaust deniers, he failed to mention or stress the Arab world's pattern of ethnic cleansing of Jews that has predated and spanned the time of Israeli statehood. It is now the Christians of the Arab world that are fleeing the birthplace of their faith in which they have lived for centuries.
This brings me to the painful task of comparing Obama's speeches with those of Binyamin Netanyahu, the man who stood alone in that den of falsehood we refer to as the United Nations.
Obama looks away from plain facts as though they were a blinding midday sun. Instead he gazes earnestly into his teleprompter and intones platitudes seasoned with sanitised history. He has sided with a leftist dictator in Honduras lawfully removed from office by that country's congress and greeted the theft of an election in Iran with belated and tepid support for demonstrators that have risked their lives to stand up for justice in their country. Instead of defending America's goals and intentions in world forums, he has apologised at every opportunity. He has thrown his weight behind nuclear disarmament and pulled missile defense systems out of Poland and Czechoslovakia. His actions have evoked in the Czech populace bitter memories of a betrayal in 1938 by Neville Chamberlain, who sold Czechoslovakia to Germany in exchange for "peace in our time." He did so on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939.
If Obama has not put faith in America's enemies, the only possibility is that he has put his faith in his own power of persuasion. Like a comedian salesman taking personal pride in clinching a sale or a comedian trying to get a laugh, President Obama sees winning over America's enemies as a matter of his personal validation. It is an experiment in salesmanship. The price of its failure will be paid by the same nation that will be paying off the deficit he has run up for the ostensible reason of national recovery.
Obama has had the shortest "honeymoon" of any sitting President in modern memory. Only New Yorkers, who watched Elliot Spitzer's governorship crash and burn after 2 1/2 months have seen such dazzling egotism and ineptitude.
Somehow, President Obama has achieved the reputation of being a good speaker. He has been a junior Senator and a university instructor. That is very good. Unfortunately, every professor must also be a student, if his wellsprings of wisdom are not to run dry. Every orator must also listen lest his oratorical thunder degenerate into amplified twaddle. It is time for President Obama to listen to the people he leads and to look at the troubled world into which he has trodden with such foolhardy confidence. It may be our duty to respect our President, but in our troubled times, it is our duty to respectfully and forcefully differ.