Change and Hope
The Olympic Fiasco
I think most Americans were rooting for Chicago. As I wrote on NRO’s corner, I know I was. But Rio had a really convincing hope and change/ multicultural/new guy on the block case. And consider: given the recent bad windy city publicity (You Tube beatings, state and city corruption, Blagoism, Daley ward mobsterism, rumors of pre-Olympic wheeling and dealing on land angles, administration Chicago hard-ball Rahm Emanuel/David Axelrod politics, etc.), Chicago, Illinois ,was seen abroad as less competitive, far less competitive, than the other cities. I think almost any fair-minded neutral judge could grasp how those realities were going to play out. (Do not forget that Euros love to be gratuitously fickle and so in the first round trashed the reset-button, fawning American who wants to wow them through obsequiousness. And the more I watched Barack/Michelle do the “I grew up in the neighborhood” thing, the more I noticed the Euro-audience wincing (not smart bragging about your childhood Chicago “right hook” to an audience that has just watched horrific fighting in the streets of Chicago).
But even without the self-centered story-telling it was a hard sell anyway. How can a post-national, I’m sorry Obama, trapped in a sort of we are the world paradox, be seen in nationalistic and near tribal fashion stumping for his own home town? Again, it did not help that he appeared in campaign mode, tossing out the usual personal, somewhat hokey (and all but narcissistic) stories about himself and his family, that I know don't resonate, much less make effective arguments, in the less therapeutic world of hardball politics abroad. In short, the community organizer was out organized by the multicultural ascendant Rio.
Almost all of Michelle's statements were heartfelt and well meant. But they too proved in a global context counterproductive—and almost embarrassing in their now accustomed egocentricity. So the mystery remains, why did Obama think he should risk presidential and national capital in such ambiguous circumstances? Ego? Sloppy prep work? Payback to pals? Hubris?—e.g., I can fly in, do the hope and change cadence, fly out, and leave them hypnotized.
Sarkozy Drew Blood
Sarkozy really hurt Obama internationally, since his sarcastic ‘beam back down Barack’-like statement cut to the bone on the issue of such fluffy talk versus little substance: utopianism sermonizing on non-proliferation is great, but what about the spinning centrifuges? What does the Left do when the French are now to our Right? How can a weaker power sound braver than the stronger? And more principled? Europe is becoming worried, in the "be careful what you wish for" fashion about the Obama era, since the old bad cop/good cop game is up. It is now Europe good cop/US nicer cop. Much irony in this again…
The Challenge Ahead
Here is the problem for our President: the Iranian negotiation is an IED that will blow up in our faces. The theocrats want, need a bomb for a variety of reasons (why would a country that burns natural gas off at the oil well head need “peaceful” nuclear power?). Bombs have been a win/win situation for both Pakistan and North Korea. If Iran wins, we are off to the races—Saudi Arabia next, Egypt? Syria? Venezuela?
I hope the President is up to encouraging madcap drilling in the Alaska, Gulf, California, and the Dakotas to get these new finds into production, since if or when the Israelis strike, all hell is going to let loose in the Gulf. Cannot someone tell Obama that the moral, the peaceful, the only realistic thing now is to get tough with Iran through ostracism, sanctions, boycotts, even, heaven forbid, a blockade if need be, to prevent the far more terrible scenarios that lie ahead?
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