For those of us who didn’t drink the Kool-Aid (or ate the Kaboom), there’s always been an enormous sense of camp surrounding President Obama. The sophomoric teleprompter rhetoric described by his media enablers as being the second coming of FDR, JFK, and MLK. The quasi-religious eschaton-immanentizing riffs such as, “I am going to try to be so persuasive in the 20 minutes or so that I speak that by the time this is over, a light will shine down from somewhere. It will light upon you. You will experience an epiphany. And you will say to yourself, I have to vote for Barack. I have to do it.” The Styrofoam columns. The mom jeans. The “Peace in our time” uber-gaffe. Ad nauseam.
In the New York Sun, Conrad Black writes that Mr. Obama setting in motion the “Collapse of American Influence Recalls Disintegration of Soviet Union, Fall of France:”
Not since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, and prior to that the fall of France in 1940, has there been so swift an erosion of the world influence of a Great Power as we are witnessing with the United States.
The Soviet Union crumbled jurisdictionally: In 1990-1991, one country became the 16 formerly constituent republics of that country, and except perhaps for Belarus, none of them show much disposition to return to the Russian fold into which they had been gathered, almost always by brute force, over the previous 300 years.
The cataclysmic decline of France, of course, was the result of being overrun by Nazi Germany in 1940. And while it took until the return of de Gaulle in 1958 and the establishment of the Fifth Republic with durable governments and a serious currency, and the end of the Algerian War in 1962, and the addition of some other cubits to France’s stature, the largest step in its resurrection was accomplished by the Allied armies sweeping the Germans out of France in 1944.
What we are witnessing now in the United States, by contrast, is just the backwash of inept policy-making in Washington, and nothing that could not eventually be put right. But for this administration to redeem its credibility now would require a change of direction and method so radical it would be the national equivalent of the comeback of Lazarus: a miraculous revolution in the condition of an individual (President Obama), and a comparable metamorphosis (or a comprehensive replacement) of the astonishingly implausible claque around him.
Linking to Black’s article in his USA Today column, Glenn Reynolds adds that comparing the collapse of American influence under Obama to the end of the Soviet Union “may be an exaggeration — but Obama promised a ‘fundamental transformation,’ after all.” But there’s no doubt that as Glenn writes, Obama’s fumbling and bumbling and own goals on Syria have transformed the administration into a global laughingstock:
At least Hollywood is still behind the president — or, anyway, is mostly keeping quiet about its opposition because, as old-line Hollywood liberal Ed Asner reports, they “don’t want to feel anti-black.” So it’s come to this — while George W. Bush was savaged for “bombing brown people,” now if you’re against bombing brown people you’re “anti-black.”
As I said, if I were George W. Bush or Romney, I’d be sorely tempted to laugh, because Obama’s chickens are coming home to roost. Obama was elected after he and his party sowed distrust of U.S. military endeavors, mocked “intelligence estimates” about “weapons of mass destruction,” and suggested that anything the United States did in the region was probably somehow a scheme to benefit oil companies. Now Obama and his administration are shocked to find that when they go on about intelligence estimates and weapons of mass destruction, people don’t take them seriously.
Likewise, Obama has repeatedly shown his disdain for Congress and his willingness to act without congressional approval in all sorts of areas, from ObamaCare implementation to gun control. So it’s not surprising that members of Congress seem to be a bit . . . distant now that Obama suddenly wants them to bail him out of his unfortunate “red line” remark.
But I’d bet that Bush and Romney aren’t actually laughing. That’s because they’re both serious men who understand international politics and who care for the future of the country. They no doubt understand that, as fun as it is to watch a political opponent twist in the wind due to his own ineptitude, the price will ultimately be paid not by Obama, but by the people of America.
“Our diplomacy is a joke, our president is a laughing stock, our enemies are emboldened, and we’ve still got over three years of this to go. Nothing funny there at all, alas.” But isn’t that the escape valve that makes it all worthwhile for Messrs Obama and Kerry, and YouTube maven Susan Rice? If their wacky foreign policy schemes work, great — if not, and they blow up in their faces and the end result weakens America on the foreign stage, well, from their perspective, that’s not the end of the world, either, right?
Update: Welcome Insta-readers; when I wrote that last paragraph, I hadn’t yet read “Obama’s Successful Foreign Failure,” Norman Podhoretz’s new article in the Wall Street Journal, which reaches a similar conclusion:
For this fulfillment of his dearest political wishes, Mr. Obama is evidently willing to pay the price of a sullied reputation. In that sense, he is by his own lights sacrificing himself for what he imagines is the good of the nation of which he is the president, and also to the benefit of the world, of which he loves proclaiming himself a citizen.
The problem for Mr. Obama is that at least since the end of World War II, Americans have taken pride in being No. 1. Unless the American people have been as fundamentally transformed as their country is quickly becoming, America’s decline will not sit well. With more than three years in office to go, will Mr. Obama be willing and able to endure the continuing erosion of his popularity that will almost certainly come with the erosion of the country’s power and influence?
No doubt he will either deny that anything has gone wrong, or failing that, he will resort to his favorite tactic of blaming others—Congress or the Republicans or Rush Limbaugh. But what is also almost certain is that he will refuse to change course and do the things that will be necessary to restore U.S. power and influence.
And so we can only pray that the hole he will go on digging will not be too deep for his successor to pull us out, as Ronald Reagan managed to do when he followed a president into the White House whom Mr. Obama so uncannily resembles.
Read the whole thing, to coin an Insta-phrase.
And also, check out Tom Blumer’s article from last week at PJM, “Obama’s Extra-Constitutional Abdication,” for which I originally created the illustration that’s atop this post.