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What is the president thinking?
That seems to be the question of the day. Russian clients are shooting passenger planes out of the air with Russian weaponry, Al Qaeda on Steroids is taking over Iraq, Iran is running circles around gormless western negotiators while it builds nukes for “peaceful purposes” (because once all non-Muslims are dead, there will be peace!), the Jews are at war with barbarous terrorists so of course the world is cheering for — guess who! — the barbarians, our country is being overrun by illegal aliens we can’t afford to accommodate — and the president of the United States is doing what? Yeah, fund-raising, baby! Doing his charming give-me-some-money speech thing:
I just flew in from Washington and boy are my arms tired! But seriously, it’s great to be back in Akron! Are those Republicans stinkers or what? It’s a war on women, I tell ya. They’ll probably impeach me next cause I’m black. Don’t boo — vote! Thanks, and that’ll be $30,000 a plate!
What is he thinking? The ladies on Fox News — Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren — keep asking their guests in tones of amazed frustration. The big writerly minds have comments and theories. Here’s Peggy Noonan in a Wall Street Journal column headlined “The Daydream and The Nightmare”:
I’m not sure people are noticing the sheer strangeness of how the president is responding to the lack of success around him. He once seemed a serious man…. Now he seems unserious, frivolous, shallow. He hangs with celebrities, plays golf. His references to Congress are merely sarcastic…. [He] doesn’t seem to care about his unpopularity, or the decisions he’s made that have not turned out well…. He thinks he’s done his work… history will look back on him and see him as heroic…. It is weird to have a president who has given up.
Here’s Daniel Henninger in the same paper, with a column headlined, “Obama to World: Drop Dead”:
How… to explain someone who claims he can run the country and a troubled world out of his back pocket while he flies from fundraiser to fundraiser? Barack Obama is the most provincial U.S. president in at least a century. The progressive Democrats who displaced the Clinton machine in 2008 and came to power with Mr. Obama have no interest beyond consolidating political and electoral power inside the U.S. Not even the White House of Lyndon Johnson, the ultimate pol, was so purely politicized.
The fundraising is a frantic effort to protect this new Democratic voter machine. The world doesn’t vote, so the world doesn’t matter.
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Here’s Charles Krauthammer in his syndicated column turning one of our mightier minds to the question of the hour:
The preferred explanation for the president’s detachment is psychological. He’s checked out. Let down and disappointed by the world, he is in withdrawal.
Perhaps. But I’d propose an alternate theory that gives him more credit: Obama’s passivity stems from an idea. When Obama says Putin has placed himself on the wrong side of history, he actually believes it. He disdains realpolitik because he believes, in the end, such primitive 19th-century notions as conquest are self-defeating. History sees to their defeat…
But history is lived in the here and now. The Soviets had only 70 years, yet it was enough to murder millions and rain ruin on entire continents. Bashar al-Assad, too, will one day go. But not before having killed at least 100,000 people.
All domination must end. But after how much devastation? If you leave it to the forces of history to repel aggression and redeem injustice, what’s the point of politics?
The arc of history may indeed bend toward justice, Mr. President. But, as you say, the arc is long. The job of a leader is to shorten it. Otherwise, why do we need a president? And why did you seek to become ours?
In response to all these I can only, in all modesty, humbly reiterate Klavan’s Hapless Putz Theory of the Obama Presidency. According to this theory, Obama has been right about only one thing in his entire life and it is this: If you play on Americans’ racial shame and their fears of conservative repression, you can convince them to follow a False Messiah. The Hapless Putz part is this: He didn’t know he was a False Messiah. He thought he was for real. He believed his political ideas were true. He thought making America less of a presence in the world would make the world more peaceful. He thought ordering up some sort of health care thingie would make everything cheap and everyone happy. He thought he could phone and pen his way to greatness.
But in fact he is a Hapless Putz. And rather than face that truth, he has turned off the world.