Reading Haiku in Obamaland

I decided recently to take a much-needed break from my incessant reading of political commentary and turn to something completely different for a change, harkening instead to a limpid, tranquil, and resolutely poetic world. What better reprieve from the troubling news of the day than an immersion in Japanese haiku? And so I found myself leafing through an out-of-print issue of Poetry Tokyo (No. 5), appreciating the delicate technique and deft perceptual subtleties of contemporary Japanese poet Tohta Kaneko, a master of the craft. The idyll didn’t last long. I was shortly jolted back to reality when I came across an entry in a suite called “12 Haikus”:


A red sun
In the child’s drawing —
A snow storm outside

No help for it. The poet may have limned a benign and consoling picture of domestic shelter, but the image that came instantly to mind was Barack Obama, a veritable child on the geopolitical stage, dabbling in bright crayon colors while the world beyond is beset by tempests and convulsions. Was French President Nicolas Sarkozy right when he portrayed Obama as dangerously naive, a man living in a virtual world that does not touch upon the real world even at a tangent? Obama’s recent waffling speech at the UN, touting nuclear disarmament while Iran and North Korea are racing to the nuclear finish line, surely justifies the assumption.

I returned to my reading but another haiku in the sequence gave me further pause:

A slug carrying
Serene sunlight on his back —
A hen nearby

Obama is no slug; nevertheless, despite his nimble rhetoric and whirlwind activity, there is something sluggish about his thinking as he lugs his sunny vision of planetary harmony hither and yon while the predator is poised to devour him whole.

I give it one more try, wanting to avoid the specter of obsession with the enigmatic and disquieting figure who occupies the White House. But the next haiku is no less kind and even crueler in reinforcing my apprehensions:

Deep in the forest
He’s digging away
My secret sanctuary

And that was it for my leisurely encounter with Japanese poetry. For it occurred to me that Obama may not be the naif that Sarkozy has depicted, someone who wishes to do good but invariably does harm, at best a curate’s egg of a president. Rather, Obama may be something far more disturbing, a palpable and deliberate threat to the nation he purportedly governs, as many others have come to believe. Obama seems deeply to resent the country which nourished him and allowed for his undeniable success. We are preoccupied with the menace of Islamic terrorism and indeed a bomb plot, described as “one of the biggest threats since 9/11,” was only recently uncovered and thwarted. But the real, long-term threat to the United States, I am now beginning to suspect, is not any particular terrorist per se; it is not even Osama. The real, long-term threat to the United States is Obama. Do not be deceived by the BS.


One must be exceptionally wary of accusing a man who holds the highest and most prestigious political office in the world and who is still respected by many people. Nor does one wish to be dismissed as a conspiracy nut or a raving paranoic. Nonetheless, I have been following his career closely since well before his nomination as the Democratic candidate for the presidency, registering dubious association after scandal after revelation which seemed — and still seems — to come hurtling in by the day. And, as I have suggested, there are only two ways to account for the president’s doubtful behavior.

Either Sarkozy is correct and we are observing an unreconstructed naif completely out of his depth — perhaps the most ingenuous and politically clueless president since Jimmy Carter, and possibly in the entire gamut of POTUS history — or we are dealing with a man whose unspoken intention is to dig away at America’s “secret sanctuary,” to disarm incrementally before rogue nuclear aspirants, to betray his allies, to curry favor with militant aggressor states, to support left-wing demagogues, to bury his country under a mountain of unpayable debt, to maintain ties with corrupt organizations, to pass legislation that a majority of his countrymen oppose, to expand federal powers to such an extent that he may conceivably, as one newsletter worries, put the American Constitution at risk, and, in effect, to render America progressively unrecognizable as America.


For Obama and his entourage, it appears that America is the battlefield. It is there that the war is to be waged, the enemy defeated, a new dispensation to be imposed, a makeover of society to be enacted. At the same time, it is as if the world beyond its borders barely exists in realpolitik terms and can be safely appeased, cajoled, ignored, flattered, and even trusted. This is an error of cataclysmic proportions. Meanwhile, Obama unleashes a massive media blitzkrieg, overexposing himself at every turn, which is strangely reminiscent of the iconic strategy of dictators like Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il plastering their likenesses in every corner of the public square. From the standpoint of an outsider looking in, the spectacle is scarcely credible. And judging from tea parties, town halls, and the march on Washington, for many insiders, too.

Like most people, I have no solution to the quandary in which the United States now malingers. Governor Rick Perry of Texas is reported to have floated a secession or “resistance” option and has been duly ridiculed for his temerity. And yet the fault lines in the country appear to be growing ever more prominent. In a recent posting of mine on Pajamas Media, I was startled to detect among the comments a distinct odor of secessionism. Will this swell in the future? If at first you don’t secede, try and try again?


Or is there a chance that America will emerge approximately intact after the 2012 election, send Obama packing back to Chicago where he belongs, and gradually recover the strength, dignity, and economic vitality it has forfeited to a charlatan? Might the 2010 congressional elections apply the brakes and at least slow down the nation’s careening descent — what Roger Kimball calls a dégringolade — into impoverishment, stasis, and political and military weakness? Maybe. Maybe not.

Obama reminds me of a Star Wars Imperial Walker, wreaking havoc and devastation with every step, but one who may not be brought down by ordinary Americans who understand the danger he represents. The fear is that Obama has amassed so much power, aided by a Pravda-esque media and backed by a like-minded political clientele among left-wing voters and significant minorities, that he may be invulnerable. But, unfortunately, his country is not.

I return to Tohta Kaneko’s haikus and I read:

At dawn
A giant stalks the shore
Gulping all the waves



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