I cannot recall, in the last five years, Barack Obama ever identifying the Iranians, Hezbollah, or the late Hugo Chavez as among our “enemies,” in the fashion that he once urged Latino leaders to punish conservatives at the polls: “We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.” If only the president would treat those who don’t like the United States in the same manner that he does those who do, he might bring great clarity to his now listless foreign policy. Indeed, why waste his rich vocabulary of teleprompted invective on fellow Americans, when there is an entire world out there that wishes the United States ill?
Imagine if Obama declaimed of the Iranians in Tehran that “those aren’t the kinds of folks who represent our core American values,” in the manner he once attacked John McCain for calling for border security in 2008. Could not a worldly Obama at least go after the intolerant Saudis for spreading Wahhabi-hatred worldwide and for sending subsidies to radical Sunni terrorists, in the detailed way he once deconstructed rural conservative voters of Pennsylvania? He might have taken apart these dogmatic religious absolutists in the following manner: “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” All such invective seems to sum up current Saudi society far better than it does the people of Pennsylvania. Could not the president finish by noting that their madrassas encourage divisions and discourage cooperation, just as he boldly lectured an Irish audience about the problems with Catholic parochial schools?
As far as these hyper-rich Persian Gulf sheikdoms go, could not the fearless Obama urge these “fat cats” to share their riches with poorer countries, in the manner he once sermonized to Americans in no uncertain terms: “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody”?
When Obama deals with the Palestinians, could he not say of them, as he once did without hesitation of the Republican Congress, “Even though most people agree … I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind-meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right”? Of the Gaza flotilla incident that was used against ally Israel, Obama at least could offer one of his accustomed blunt retorts like “there is no there there,” as he did to his own domestic critics of Benghazi. Or better yet, he could have flipped it off as a “sideshow.”
Trouble in Syria? Tough Chicagoan Obama should warn Assad that America was bringing a gun to a knife fight, or that Americans were going to get in the faces of their enemies, just as the street-fighting candidate Obama once urged his supporters to confront Republicans.
Of natural disasters in Pakistan, the historically minded president might also see it as a metaphor of a sick society, in the way he said of Katrina that the hurricane catastrophe “was a powerful metaphor of what’s gone on for generations.” Greece is in shambles, its socialist/siesta culture unsustainable. If the candid president is going to lecture Americans with “we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades,” and with “this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades. We need to get back on track,” then perhaps he might extend that tough love to the bankrupt Greeks as well.
Egypt? Could not no-nonsense Obama say of Mohamed Morsi and his destruction of that country that he “was acting stupidly,” in the fashion he did with the Cambridge Police Department? Could not Attorney General Eric Holder be enlisted to talk down to the Libyans, who will not turn over the killers of our government personnel, by claiming they are abject “cowards”? Many Islamists in Nigeria are slaughtering Christians; could not an empathetic Obama express solidarity with the victims the way he did so poignantly with Trayvon Martin: “If I had a son, he’d look like a slain Christian Nigerian”?
Speaking of Christians, might Obama order his NASA chief to praise Christians for their contributions to civilization, in the manner Charles Bolden was ordered to redirect NASA’s mission to Muslim outreach: “Third, and perhaps foremost, he [Obama] wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering”)?
Perhaps Obama could teach the grasping and cash-rich Chinese that now is not the time for them to profit and that at some point their rapacious international companies should cease the money-making, in the same manner he instructed Americans: “I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” The Chinese are said to have the dirtiest air and water on the planet — might a green Obama remonstrate with them about their duty to planet Earth, in the way that he damned his Republican opponents for wanting to “have dirtier air, dirtier water”?
To a hostile Vladimir Putin — reported to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars — the statist Obama might remark that the Russian leader did not build his fortune, at least not without the help of the state. Or more directly, civil-rights organizer Obama might remind polite society of the often-bigoted Putin that he was “a typical white person,” in the manner he once derided his own grandmother. If only Putin was BP, Obama would have him worried about the president musing over “whose ass to kick.”
Obama could also from time to time enlist First Lady Michelle Obama as well. She would be wonderful in courageously reminding a bullying China that it is “just downright mean.” To the corrupt United Nations, a no-holds-barred Michelle could confront its members by reminding them that she had never before been proud of that organization. Perhaps to the Europeans who piggy-back on American defense expenditures, the tough-love first lady might remonstrate as she did with American voters: “Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.”
Turning to more concrete action, the IRS has global reach. Could it not turn on Hezbollah the way it has gone after the Tea Party?
Instead of inflammatory language like “patriots” and “tea party,” might the agency fixate on “terrorism” and “jihad”? And just as the FBI did not detain Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Major Hasan, or Anwar al-Awlaki after these suspects came to their attention, could it not finally let go of the poor video-maker Mark Basseley Youssef, innocent of inciting the al-Qaeda related terrorists in Benghazi?
For that matter, if controversial films are supposedly catalysts to hate-filled violence, could not the exasperated Obama condemn his powerful friend Recep Erdogan for airing on Turkish state television the anti-Semitic and anti-American Valley of the Wolves? Was not the multimillion-dollar slick Turkish production that played throughout the Islamic world more detrimental to U.S. interests than Youssef’s cheap video farce?
The Associated Press and James Rosen are small-fry leakers in comparison to the things al Jazeera says about America. Why not monitor that new agency’s phone banks, or perhaps even the parents of al Jazeera reporters? If Obama goes after Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Fox News by name, cannot he conjure up at least something like his earlier slur “teabaggers” for the anti-American Islamist media?
Is al Jazeera all that less subversive than Fox News? If EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson can use a fake name and adopt a phony alter ego to evade accountability from her domestic critics, can’t our own government operatives do that abroad to confuse Islamists? Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shook down American companies to pony up money to promote Obamacare; can’t she similarly coerce our allies to help pay more for the joint venture in Afghanistan?
American politics is historically a rough-and-tumble business, characterized by invective and slurs. What is different with the Obama administration is not that it goes after its critics, but rather that it does so in an extreme fashion that it does not employ for those abroad who oppose the United States at almost every turn. Diplomacy is one thing, but being far harsher with domestic than foreign critics is a peculiarity we have not seen since the Nixon era, when an “enemies list” did not reference Red China or Leonid Brezhnev’s Russia as much as those who worked for the Washington Post.
Barack Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize, not for anything concrete that he did, but in the eyes of the award committee for his rhetorical efforts to bring the world together. Obviously, the Nobel judges did not think that included half of Obama’s fellow Americans. For Obama, the problem is not so much foreign radicals, revolutionaries, authoritarians, and dictators who hate the United States as it is those within America who, he thinks, cause such odious folk abroad to justifiably despise us.
In other words, if not for our conservatives, the NRA, the pro-lifers, the traditional marriage bunch, the one-percenters, the crazy House Republicans, and the Tea Party/Sarah Palin sorts, our enemies abroad might have become our friends.
And that depressing ideology explains why the president of the United States saves his best invective for his own.
Related: Don’t miss Ed Driscoll’s interview with VDH on his latest book, The Savior Generals.