Charles Krauthammer asks, “What is it like to be a foreign ally of Barack Obama’s America?”
If you’re a Brit, your head is spinning. It’s not just the personal slights to Prime Minister Gordon Brown — the ridiculous 25-DVD gift, the five refusals before Brown was granted a one-on-one with The One.
Nor is it just the symbolism of Obama’s returning the Churchill bust that was in the Oval Office. Query: If it absolutely had to be out of Obama’s sight, could it not have been housed somewhere else on U.S. soil rather than ostentatiously repatriated?
Perhaps it was the State Department official who last year denied there even was a special relationship between the U.S. and Britain, a relationship cultivated by every U.S. president since Franklin Roosevelt.
And then there was Hillary Clinton’s astonishing, nearly unreported (in the U.S.) performance in Argentina last month. She called for Britain to negotiate with Argentina over the Falklands.
For those who know no history — or who believe that it began on Jan. 20, 2009 — and therefore don’t know why this was an out-of-the-blue slap at Britain, here’s the backstory:
Click over if you need a refresher; back in 2010, as Krauthammer asks:
But the Brits, our most venerable, most reliable ally, are the most disoriented. “We British not only speak the same language. We tend to think in the same way. We are more likely than anyone else to provide tea, sympathy, and troops,” writes Bruce Anderson in London’s Independent, summarizing with admirable concision the fundamental basis of the U.S.-British special relationship.
Well, said David Manning, a former British ambassador to the U.S., to a House of Commons committee reporting on that very relationship: “He [Obama] is an American who grew up in Hawaii, whose foreign experience was of Indonesia and who had a Kenyan father. The sentimental reflexes, if you like, are not there.”
I’m not personally inclined to neuropsychiatric diagnoses, but Manning’s guess is as good as anyone’s. How can you explain a policy toward Britain that makes no strategic or moral sense? And even if you can, how do you explain the gratuitous slaps to the Czechs, Poles, Indians, and others? Perhaps when an Obama Doctrine is finally worked out, we shall learn whether it was pique, principle, or mere carelessness.
Increasingly, since January of 2009, the title of Mark Steyn’s America Alone has taken on a whole new meaning, less than three years after its initial publication. To understand why, Jim Hanlen, a frequent commenter at the Brothers Judd has one possible answer to Krauthammer’s question:
The problem with Obama’s emptiness is that the void is quickly filled with the worst sorts of spirits. 20 years of Jeremiah Wright goes a long way in a vacuum.
Someone as overtly vile as Sharpton or Pete Stark would never win a national election. Jimmy Carter won once, but then was decisively repudiated. Obama slipped by the first time, because he appeared ‘cool’ to McCain’s doddering confusion/unreadiness (and also for many other reasons).
What really hurts Obama is the vanity. He really does seem to think that obesiance is owed him. Because he is so empty, everything is about him. He has no sense of history, no identification with America. He is reduced to hectoring America to come to his terms. Not a winning strategy for a President. Evidently his approval rating is down to 44% today.
His petty attacks and grubby manners will drive that down even further. After all, he is treating 2/3 of America the way he treated Netanyahu. People notice.
To build on Krauthammer’s quote above from David Manning (“The sentimental reflexes, if you like, are not there”), it’s also worth revisiting Juliette Ochieng’s perceptive take from March of last year.
Related: “Obama has refused to approve every one of Israel’s military requests since taking office in January 2009.”