Some of us who don’t belong to the Beltway’s elite read Barack Obama early on. He is rigidly ideological, he knows nothing about national security, and will be bullied by other, more experienced world leaders. Some inside the nation’s political sinkhole did too — Hillary Clinton’s “3 AM” commercial argued that Obama wasn’t ready to be the leader of the free world. I’m no fan of Clinton’s, and honestly she isn’t any more prepared to lead than Obama was, but that ad was dead-on.
National Journal’s Ron Fournier has finally figured Obama out, and written a grimly enjoyable column about how Vlad Putin is now the big man on the world’s campus.
After confessing that he’s less interested in Putin’s motivations than the principles that Putin is flouting, Obama said the Russian wants to control events in Ukraine. “That’s not new,” he said, spelling out a policy that effectively cedes Crimea to Putin with no further consequences and threatens actions if he moves deeper into Ukraine or into NATO nations.
“So I think that will be a bad choice for President Putin to make,” Obama said, “but, ultimately, he is the president of Russia, and he’s the one who’s going to be making that decision. He just has to understand there’s a choice to be made here.”
In other words, the bully has stolen your lunch money without a fight and now you’re telling him, “It would be a bad choice to take one more penny from anybody in this lunchroom, Buster!”
That next penny is probably eastern Ukraine, where there are ethnic Russians, rumors of Spetznaz operatives stirring up trouble, and next to which Putin is said to have amassed as many as 80,000 troops and armor. Ukraine’s military was hollowed out by its ousted pro-Russian president and is no match for Russia’s. The bully is smiling that malevolent smile they always put on when they’re about to do something awful and no one can stop them. Who is going to stand up to him?
[C]aring little about the motivation of his rivals seems to be a trait of Obama’s leadership that has hurt him in Congress, where the opposition party is stubbornly opposed to his agenda. Rather than understanding why the GOP is moving rightward, helping its leadership tame party extremists (as he must do with the Left), and finding issues that help both sides claim victories, Obama surrendered to polarization and gridlock. Actually, he is a champion of it.
“I won,” remember?
By the way, passing Obamacare despite the objections of the majority, and smearing the Tea Party as racist when they formed up to oppose that law, was a sequence of acts of bullying. Barack Obama is perfectly happy bullying his fellow Americans. The media are perfectly happy to help Obama bully their fellow Americans, so low is their regard for us. It’s on the world’s stage that he magically transforms into a wimp.
From fights with Congress over the federal budget and his nominations, to gun control, immigration reform, health care, and Syria, the president has been (to borrow the language he used on Putin) more interested in the facts and the principles than in GOP motivations. He often seems more concerned about being right than being effective.
Fournier can’t say it here, or maybe he doesn’t see it, but it has always been Barack Obama’s rigid devotion to his antiquated ideology that trumps everything else. Obama belongs to that old “progressive” wing of the left, the wing that wants centralized power, lots and lots of government, all in the hands of a largely unelected “enlightened” few who benevolently rule over the rest of us. They view the Constitution as an impediment because it restrains government — when that is the entire point of the Constitution and the way it pits parts of government against each other. Progressivism doesn’t work. Human nature is not benevolent. Centralized power is the way of the Soviet dinosaur.
Obama isn’t just wrong on the budget, his radical nominations, gun control, the border and the rest, he is stubbornly wrong, so stubborn that he cannot even see the possibility that he may be wrong. He lacks the maturity to even acknowledge that there is another side, and that they may have a point, and that they may even be right. Barack Obama thinks of himself as a forward thinker so much that that’s his slogan, but he is stuck in the monarchical past.
On Russia, Obama simply does not regard the possibility that Putin disregards any “principles of the international community” that do not serve his interests. Obama simply cannot see that Putin and his BRICS allies use the “international community” cynically to serve their aims while thwarting America’s. He acts like the UN General Assembly’s non-binding vote Thursday to reject Russia’s annexation of Crimea actually means something, when all it means is that the UN alternates between being the lunchroom cowering to the bully, or the tool by which the likes of Putin stymies America.
Or, Obama does see all of that. And lets Putin push him around anyway. Another principle of the progressive left is that America should be taken down a few pegs, militarily, economically and in terms of its influence on the world. America’s power is “not fair.” Obama’s handling of foreign and domestic policy — denigrate America as his opening act, lead from behind, slash our military, strangle our economy through regulations, harm our body politic by passing laws that the majority oppose, pick divisive fights on social and religious policy, showing weakness ot the world when strength is required — are too consistent across too many years to not be seen as a conscious strategy.
Fournier gets at Obama’s disregard for Putin’s motivations, and he’s astute to note how counterproductive Obama’s disinterest is. Some in the media should spend some quality time examining Barack Obama’s motivations, and their own.