Belmont Club

To A Mousie

“In the next four years, an unforeseen crisis, challenge or conflict is going to seize the country. Whose leadership, whose judgment, whose values do you want in the White House when that crisis lands like a thud on the Oval Office desk?” — Rahm Emmanuel at the DNC convention

Rahm was describing to those who were listening what lay down the road they were kicking the can along after election day. The sense of temporizing was palpable.  CNN’s Frida Ghitis sensed it when she asked “Is Obama’s re-election delaying action on Syria?”

If Barack Obama could make three wishes, he would probably ask for the crisis in Syria to go away. That would help him receive another wish: Getting reelected as president of the United States.

He was delaying a whole lot of things, keeping the ice on as many unpleasant truths as long as he could. The New York Times described how everything was consciously subordinated to the single, overarching goal re-electing Obama.

With the White House in campaign mode nearly 24/7, many of the administration’s biggest foreign policy initiatives have been pushed to the back burner until after the election. From Syria and Iran to nuclear arms reductions and peace talks with the Taliban, the administration is mostly playing for time, trying to avoid decisions that could land the president in trouble or be exploited by his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

That’s what the national interest amounted to: re-electing Obama. A Independent says Obama had even asked European officials to keep Greece in the Eurozone until after election day.  The lengths to which Obama would go to stay in office became public in the famous open microphone exchange with Russia’s Medvedev. President Obama candidly asks the Russian leader to wait for an unpopular decision  — whatever that might be — until after he is re-elected.

But it looks like he’s not going to make it.  The make-up didn’t survive long enough for him to prance up the stage to receive his trophy. Under the harsh heat of reality, the masacara, foundation and the false eye-lashes has melted on his face. The carefully crafted illusion is now nothing but a grotesque smear under the pressure of events.

In the words of James Taranto “suddenly Obama’s foreign policy does look feckless.” Suddenly all of it — from his Green energy initiatives to his stimulus to his “new beginning” with the Muslim world — looks stupid, ridiculous and vain. Maybe because it was.

The optics are now very bad; or say rather that the rose-colored spectacles have fallen off.  The mob outside the US Embassy in Cairo is chanting “Obama, Obama there are still a billion Osamas”. Across the middle East, embassies are surrounded by crowds making it almost impossible for the President to fulfill his famous pledge.  “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” The movie showing Obama boldly directing the SEALs to end 9/11 where it began is not going to look as good as they thought.

The degree to which his administration has miscalculated was expressed in Hillary Clinton’s plaintive expostulation at news that the Ambassador to Libya had been brutally murdered. “How can this happen in a country we help liberate, in a city (Benghazi) we helped save from destruction?”

That ain’t the half of it sister. Besides Libya and Egypt, there’s the Chicago teacher’s strike, the looming public pensions crisis, the spiraling unemployment numbers, the rising gas prices and oh yes, there’s Syria, Iran, Pakistan and lest one forget — a major war in Afghanistan.  The Obama administration is in the grip of a cascading failure which threatens to worsen beyond even the media’s ability to conceal.

It leaves even the ruling elite with a cruel choice: to go down with his ship or git while the gittin’s good. The Muslims have done it. Israel is open conflict with Obama. No one can even pretend the economy will get better.  Even the unions are looking out for number one. Why be the  last man in the bunker?

No matter what happens now the Obama era is effectively over. Even if the media by a supreme effort of misdirection heaves his administration past the post in November the accumulated avalanche of consequences will not be long in coming. The first months of 2013 will probably consist of one long and an unending string of crises, from the Levant to the Pacific, from the bourses of Europe to the New York Stock Exchange, from the Detroit to California.

In short, every can the President has kicked down the road has come to a stop. It’s over, no room left to kick the can. At some point in the downfall of every ruling elite comes the cruel choice of whether to stay with the sinking ship or head for the lifeboat. And the lifeboat in this case means simply to call things as they are. For that is our only chance now.  It’s not a about talking points any more. The battle for survival is truly on.

Besides, why not stick Romney with the problem? Yes, why not? Why not? Misfortune and incompetence have brought everyone alike to this pass. And maybe Romney does know something … why not? Yes why not? The only thing that matters now is if we can survive the catastrophe which vanity created. Robert Burns wrote a very famous poem to a mouse and their brotherhood to men.  We are all of us in the inexorable grip of events. Pity the mouse, but even more, pity the man.

You saw the fields laid bare and wasted,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel plough passed
Out through your cell.
That small bit heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter’s sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.
But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!

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