Roger’s Rules

Obama and the aroma of unreality

Now U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggests that an al Qaeda “franchise” had something to do with the murder of Chris Stevens, our Ambassador to Libya, and three other U.S. diplomats, on September 11, 2012.  And here I thought it was all because some weirdo video maker had “hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”  That’s what a communique from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo said when the news broke.

To say the the Obama administration has been sending mixed messages on the situation in the mid-East would be a laughable understatement.  Their “policy,” such as it is, is (as Der Spiegel put it) “in ruins.” This is hardly surprising. On this issue, as on so many issues, Obama does not have a policy. Rather, he has a sentiment, an ideologically-fired feeling about the way the world should work.  If the world fails to conform — as it has so conspicuously failed to do, on issues from the economy to energy to the “Arab Spring” — why, then, there must be something wrong with the world and Obama’s responses is simply to “double down” and keep pursuing the path of failure.

When Obama came to office, among the many things he promised (but failed to deliver) was that “the day I’m inaugurated, Muslim hostility will ease.” Is there a better illustration of the aroma of unreality that hovers, miasma-like, around the Obama administration? On every important issue — growth, taxes, energy, health care,our confrontation with the Islamic world, our relations with Russia — Obama has been guided not by the way the world is but by the way he believes it should be.  He has been so ostentatious a failure because he takes his cues not from a recalcitrant reality but from his unshakeable ideological prior commitments.  It’s a moral blindness that lives at the center of a certain species of socialism: to regard reality, including human reality, as entirely plastic to a certain emotionally fired view of the way the world should be.  If the world fails to measure up, the fault is never with the failed policies but with an uncooperative world.  It is the perennial fate of ideologues, from Rousseau and Robespierre through Marx and his many epigoni.  Your blueprint for utopia fails, the fault must lie with an insufficiently enlightened populace, “enemies of the state,” lingering counter-revolutionary bourgeois attitudes, etc., never with your policy.

It’s a dangerous game Obama is playing.  The question is how much more damage will the electorate allow these self-intoxicated ideologues inflict?