June 25, 2010

It was precisely Feb. 5, 2009, when I broke my self-imposed rule. It was not a very old rule, but it was serious. I had told myself that I would not criticize the new president of the United States, Barack Obama—at least not for a few more months. But I slipped up. I could not completely swallow the fact that a community action leader with almost no experience at the national level had become president. There were already complaints coming in from foreign parts. The Indians warned against his sticking his nose into their dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, and to the president’s offer of talks with Iran, a low-level spokesman, Gholam Hossein Elham, replied, “This request means Western ideology has become passive.”

Yet since those halcyon days, the flubs and near disasters have gotten worse. They have gotten worse for two reasons. To begin with, there is the experience factor. President Barack Obama is less experienced than any modern president, and I am not sure he has had any more experience than any president, period. Maybe Millard Fillmore was less experienced. I shall research the matter and report my findings.

Now think about what this means. He has had no experience in foreign affairs, intelligence gathering, the workings of the Treasury or any other aspect of the federal government. He does not know how to deal with a gigantic oil spill or, come to think of it, a small one. We are left thanking the stars in the heavens that this president has Joe Biden at his side! Maybe we are even reassured that Rahm Emanuel is there, if one does not mind a sharp elbow in the ribs, and David Axelrod and that someone by the name of Valerie Jarrett can be counted on to keep watch while this president flies off to foreign parts.

“The progressives thought they were electing a forward looker. They were getting an antique merchant. In fact, they are antique merchants.”

Second, Obama is wedded to the politics of the far left. He thinks that because there is someone to the farther left of him, he is a moderate. But as things stand, there are people to the right of him, too. As I see it, there are at least three-quarters of the American people to the right of him, possibly more. These people matter. It probably was imprudent of him to go to the baseball game last weekend, even if the Chicago White Sox were playing. And the next day, he should not have played golf, even if Joe Biden came along. Not even if Saul Alinsky had written about golf back in the 1960s.

There is something very dated about the ideology that this president takes so seriously. The progressives thought they were electing a forward looker. They were getting an antique merchant. In fact, they are antique merchants. Even the Chinese and the Indians think Obama is backward. The Canadians’ view of the world is light years beyond his. Now even his supporters are beginning to talk. The president is dangerously out of touch, and he is incompetent.

The other day, Mortimer Zuckerman wrote an ominous piece. In U.S. News & World Report, he cited widespread talk in Britain of the end of our “special relationship” with that country. He cited French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s speaking ill of Obama, and he noted Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s contempt for a number of our president’s views. Zuckerman went on to cite problems that the president had had with China, Middle Eastern leaders—particularly the king of Saudi Arabia—Turkey and Brazil. Of course, in his tour d’horizon, he mentioned Obama’s problems with Cuba, Iran and North Korea. Then he said it: “A critical mass of influential people” in the world “are no longer dazzled by his rock star personality and there is a sense that there is something amateurish and even incompetent about how Obama is managing U.S. power.”

Now, I have not always been an admirer of Zuckerman’s, but there is something solid about his piece. He wrote it clearly worried about the path that lies ahead, and when he spoke of that “critical mass of influential people,” he knew what he was writing about. This is why officials in Washington are taking a fresh look at Joe Biden. They note his gaffable presence, but they clearly are fortified by his presence. After all, who else is there, Axelrod, Emanuel and Jarrett?

(Please contact your local newspaper if you would like to see the R. Emmett Tyrrell column in your local paper.)


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