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Roger L. Simon

Jets over Libya as H. Clinton Assumes Presidency

March 19th, 2011 - 11:00 am

Only Barack Obama could make Nicolas Sarkozy look good.

Why did it take our president so long to act in Libya with the international community fairly begging us to do something? Is it because there is a weird similarity between Muammar Gaddafi and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright — both men jawing on publicly with radical rhetoric while privately enriching themselves to the maximum degree possible in their individual instances? (Easy to imagine Wright as a Third World despot.)

Or is it just Obama’s natural predilection to do nothing that we first saw writ large when he failed to support the democracy demonstrators in the streets of Teheran in ’09? This man is clearly no neocon. He’s not even much of a lover of democracy and freedom, as far as anyone can tell.

What is clear is that it was only pressure from his secretary of State that propelled him to act before more bodies were splattered across Libya and Gaddafi stood triumphant over the country, mocking the world like the Batman Joker he is while soaking up more billions in petrodollars.

This division in our leadership could not have been more evident today watching Obama speak from Brazil followed by Clinton’s Paris conference. Obama was a blip, his vaunted verbal facility from the ’08 presidential election now seeming a distant memory from a particularly bland and pompous advertising campaign. Meanwhile, Clinton handled her press conference like a true statesman, fielding questions exactly with ready answers. She had thought things through and it showed. The woman had not been off playing golf or taking samba lessons in Corcovado. She obviously skipped the March Madness, as well, for more significant matters.

I know there are some extreme libertarians that think Libya is none of our business — that we, and the international community, should stay out and let the locals blow each other to smithereens until the next dictator takes the throne or the old one keeps it and locks his enemies in torture chambers. Attractive and consoling as that idea may be, the world is nowhere near that simple. We live on a tiny globe that is shrinking by the moment for a myriad of reasons from instant communications to limited energy to a global economy. The bloodshed in Benghazi affects the refineries of Texas just as the tsunami at Fukushima rocks the boatyards of Crescent City. And those are only a couple of the most obvious instances this week.

We’re all in this together. Sorry.

And I have to tell you one other thing. Remember this: We’re Americans. Good is what we are supposed to do.

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