Powerline’s Steven Hayward notes yesterday’s remarkable article at the Daily Beast by Leslie Gelb, a liberal blue-blood who pronounced Obama’s presidency dead and gone after being a no-show in Paris this week. Further, Gelb demonstrated the reappearance of JFK-style “muscular” liberalism, in which policy is governed by silly ideas about economic utopianism yet still connected to reality in terms of our enemies’ intentions. A national liberalism, instead of the international socialism favored by Obama.
Gelb made several recommendations for dismantling Obama’s foreign policy apparatus — he offers plenty of commentary and specifics, but Gelb’s recommendations boil down entirely to “fire the leftists and hire some adults,” many of whom are establishment Republicans. Writes Gelb:
Here’s why America’s failure to be represented at the Paris unity march was so profoundly disturbing. It wasn’t just because President Obama’s or Vice President Biden’s absence was a horrendous gaffe. More than this, it demonstrated beyond argument that the Obama team lacks the basic instincts and judgment necessary to conduct U.S. national security policy in the next two years. It’s simply too dangerous to let Mr. Obama continue as is — with his current team and his way of making decisions. America, its allies, and friends could be heading into one of the most dangerous periods since the height of the Cold War.
That was remarkable in itself, but more remarkable still is the motivation behind Gelb’s revolt: he isn’t just embarrassed by Obama’s “poor optics” this time. Gelb noticed the substance of Obama’s weakness — it’s not an intellectual exercise in managing humanity anymore, it’s a bloody war, and Obama might just get us all killed.
Gelb’s unwritten eureka about leftism: Hope and Change was intellectuals playing parlor games! He finally understands the horror of his life having been a gamepiece.
Gelb doesn’t get himself all the way to understanding Obama as a man, however — this is present both in his recommendations and analysis. He writes:
In the end, making the national security system work comes down to one factor, one man –Barack Obama. He’s the key problem, and he’s the only one who can bring about a solution. He’s such a closed person. He’s first rate as an intellectual thinker, but he thinks about problems as an intellectual and not as a policy maker and a leader. Alas, that’s just too clear. He also doesn’t like to be challenged with give and take. If he were to bring in the kind of people I suggest, he would have to resolve at the outset to give them a full hearing and tangible respect for their views.
Gelb wouldn’t be making these recommendations if he understood that Obama does not see his presidency as a teetering failure, and never intended today’s foreign policy approach to be anything besides what it has become. This is a key distinction representing the right’s analytical achievement over the prior six years as compared to Gelb’s elitist commentariat left. We not only were right about liberalism, we were right about Obama’s character and intentions, both then and now. The past six years played out exactly as predicted, both by the 23-million-listener radio show and by the Tea Party shopowner in Iowa who went under, both of whom you mocked and continue to mock mercilessly.
Obama wasn’t in Paris for the same reason he hired and refuses to fire Eric Holder; for the same reason he tries to humiliate Netanyahu; for the same reason he apologized for Western civilization in Cairo; for the same reason he presented a “reset button” to a tyrant; for the same reason he helped usher the world’s foundational terror movement into power in Egypt; for the same reason Josh Earnest still — still! — was forbidden to say the word “Islamic terrorism.”
Obama does not want to overhaul his foreign policy, it’s doing perfectly fine in his estimation, and perhaps it’s just the ideal time to empty out Gitmo and reach out to Communist Cuba.
The liberal commentariat has far too much invested to trash both their own prognostications and their worldview all at once. Gelb and his colleagues will continue to find distractions to protect both their egos and their life’s work.