18 February 2009

Making the oceans recede ...

The Chairman said something to me during the Democratic primary around this time last year, when the then-junior senator from the great state of Illinois ratcheted up his hopenchange rhetoric in an attempt to bury the then-junior senator from the great state of New York.

Underlying Barack Obama's lofty statements was a was a very clear implication: The world's problems haven't been solved because I haven't taken office yet.

I have been fascinated (albeit discouraged and disappointed) with Barack Obama and his meteoric rise since he burst onto the national stage in 2004. He is an electrifying speaker whose sweeping rhetorical flourishes have reportedly caused rabid disciples to faint at his rallies. (As an aside, our country hadn't seen a cult movement like Obamania since, well, Howard Dean's wildly entertaining yet ill-fated run at the presidency in 2004.)

But the crux of Obama's appeal to many was his promise to literally change the world by engaging America's enemies. Let me point out that I am not necessarily averse to dialoguing with countries of whom we are suspicious. Most notably, I am currently outlining a post concerning the reopening of dialogue with Syria. Paul Wolfowitz, I am not.

However, President Obama has taken the Powell theory to a different stratosphere, both in the foreign and domestic contexts. 

In the foreign policy area, he distinguished himself from the likes of Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton by pushing active diplomatic engagement with Iran. Although she rightly ridiculed the Hopemonger's naivete during the Democratic primary, Secretary Clinton has now been pathetically peddling his nonsensical rhetoric since taking over at Foggy Bottom. Both Obama and Clinton have uttered the statement, "We are willing to reach out our hand to Iran, if it is willing to unclench its fist."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijhad openly ridiculed Obama's "weakness" in the wake of this statement, effectively preconditioning any diplomatic overtures on America's shunning of "the Zionist entity" (see: Israel). It's clear that he wasn't interested. As predicted by virtually everyone on the right and in the center, Ahmadenijhad made a mockery of Obama's friendly overtures.

And why wouldn't he? A tinpot dictator of a third-world country, Ahmadenijhad clearly relishes his status as the most dangerous man in the world. He has used western opposition to his nuclear ambitions to successfully rally the cause of Iranian solidarity, despite his heavy-handed dictatorial edicts. By controlling virtually every media outlet in his country and making opposition forces disappear, Ahmadenijhad has simultaneously managed to crush dissent and stir up a nationalistic sentiment. Thus, it was a no-brainer to make a laughingstock of President Obama's olive branch. 

The bottom line is that Mahmoud Ahmadenijhad has no incentive to engage Barack Obama. He is able to brashly pursue his nuclear ambitions, he crushes dissent and he clearly loves the attention given to him by the West as his country moves closer to being a nuclear power. 

Does our president really believe that his transcendent personality would bring Ahmadenijhad off the ledge?

The president took a similar attitude with respect to the "bipartisan stimulus" he and the Democrats recently muscled through Congress. 

Obama (to his credit) met with House Republicans to make his initial sales pitch. He likewise invited a number of Republican legislators to the White House several days later for a cocktail hour. He watched the Super Bowl with a bipartisan group of congressmen. He actively engaged several moderate Republican senators in an effort to win their support.

But as noted in this space before, bipartisanship is not a one-way street. The president went only as far as he needed in order to pick off three centrist Republican senators. Outwardly, he seems genuinely perplexed as to why his outreach to congressional Republicans, by and large, was completely unfruitful.

It's because politics is more than talk. What he has thus far failed to understand is that paying lip service to engaging congressional Republicans is no substitute for substantive movement in their direction. The bill eventually muscled through Congress and signed by the president yesterday was essentially Nancy Pelosi's original draft, with a few revisions, but still a Christmas tree of Democrats' favorite social causes.

In short, if you want people who disagree with you to listen and work with you, you must give them a reason.

He has taken the same attitude vis-a-vis Iran. Up to this point, Barack Obama has convinced himself that his transformative persona is the tonic for virtually every problem the country faces. He's a typical, party-line-voting Democrat whose only distinguishing characteristic is his lofty rhetoric. 

This attitude is dangerous, it's naive, and it's a recipe for a failed presidency.

And it further typifies his unfitness for the office he holds.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like someone needs a box of kleenex...