The High School Valedictorian Presidency
Listening to President Obama speak Tuesday at the New Economic School in Moscow, it became completely clear that his intellect is greatly overrated. As Obama proudly proclaimed his commitment to shared international progress and explained his support for ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, it was painfully clear how foolish it is to believe he can be trusted to do the right thing on the international stage. Most Russians already knew that. Only 23 percent have confidence in Obama to do the right thing in international affairs, according to a poll conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org.
"The pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game -- progress must be shared," the president said in one breath. But minutes later, he announced that "the arc of history shows us that governments which serve their own people survive and thrive; governments that serve their own power do not."
Well, which one is it? Is he confused?
Does the leader of the free world not understand that serving his own people will often be in direct conflict with shared international progress? For instance, if the U.S. accommodates the demands of the United Nations in reducing carbon emissions, the cost of energy (and all products made with and transported by using energy) will rise in the U.S. -- that much is agreed upon by even the Congressional Budget Office.
In the United States, the very fact that there is a cost increase is a problem for the American electorate, particularly the poor. But the international community couldn't care less that Americans will have to spend more for their gasoline, food, and clothes. The Europeans have been paying more for years. Here, the shared progress in reducing allegedly man-made global warming directly conflicts with protecting the wallets of the American working class. As president, Barack Obama's duty is to care more about the latter. The contradictory statements in this speech and others strongly imply that he doesn't understand this simple -- but extraordinarily important -- fact. And the confusion doesn't stop there.
Obama states that governments that serve their own power will probably not survive, but he doesn't seem to recognize Manuel Zelaya's government as being one of those doomed entities. The Honduran president was attempting to unconstitutionally remain in office longer than the one term the government allows him. When the army successfully gained control of the government, Zelaya's own party supported the congressional vote to replace him, according to the Associated Press.
If the U.S. is not to interfere in the affairs of other nations, why is Obama negatively judging the means by which the Honduran government has chosen to rectify a blatantly unconstitutional act by its president? Why is it more appropriate to support Zelaya than it was to support Mousavi supporters in Iran?
Obama may have thought this the perfect opportunity to reinforce the bizarre choices he made during the Iranian democracy protests and display consistency, but if so, he was wrong. He's only shown himself to be more concerned with image than substance -- and more apt to be on the wrong side of an international issue.
"America supports the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies. We do so not because we agree with him. We do so because we respect the universal principle that people should choose their own leaders, whether they are leaders we agree with or not," the president said. But the problem in Honduras was the fact that the people were constitutionally prohibited from choosing Zelaya again, and he was trying to change that inconvenient fact. How does Obama manage to gloss over that? Does he even understand that's why Zelaya was ousted?
Yes, the president is an idealist. He's a peace and love man of the highest order trying to remake the world. But idealism without intellect is a waste of time and energy, at best, and has the potential to create multiple catastrophes. When Barack Obama speaks, the emanating sound is that of a high school valedictorian who thinks he knows so much more than he actually does -- but is too young to realize how little he knows. That quality may be endearing to his supporters, but it's infuriating to those of us who prefer that the president of our nation not sound like a wistful teenager.