Sleeping Through Speeches
The World’s President
The President’s UN* talk was more of the same, same old formula: Me, me, me / then Bush blew it / then I came /and, presto, the waters parted.
There is no need to listen to these speeches anymore:
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentleman: it is my honor to address you for the first time as the forty-fourth President of the United States. I come before you humbled by the responsibility that the American people have placed upon me; mindful of the enormous challenges of our moment in history; and determined to act boldly and collectively on behalf of justice and prosperity at home and abroad.
I have been in office for just nine months, though some days it seems a lot longer. I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world. These expectations are not about me....
I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies, and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others.
I think “acted unilaterally” does not refer to all the allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, but something like simply calling the Poles late at night to say the missile deal is off, and we’re cutting our own deal with Putin.
If Obama is right, and American exceptionalism is over, and we are just one of many, why, then, does he expect to garner the world’s attention and to seek the world’s limelight? What is it about America that gives him, the two-year Senate veteran, such prominence?
In fact, it is America’s 20th century of achievement, its wealth, its singular morality, its competence — all the things that Obama either takes for granted or snarls about — that alone explains everything from his enormous Air Force One to the influence he enjoys. Put mellifluous Obama as president of Sweden or Slovakia and the world, rightly or wrongly, snores. Obama tragically does not understand that America made him — he does not make America.
Here is the synopsis of the president's speech: “Ok, I came in, dissed Bush, offered hope and change, and deigned to sacrifice myself, the smartest you’ll ever meet, for you, the world. So now we aren’t Bush’s America, but Obama’s America, and therefore I expect you to reciprocate in kind — since you only have one last chance to get a divine American president of my caliber.”
There must be some Microsoft automatic program that writes these speeches.
America’s College President
I wrote today about Obama running the country as if he were an Ivy League president and we were his faculty.
If one wonders why Americans are asked to send in fishy people to the White House, or why the NEA now wants to correlate artistic grants to political obsequiousness, or why those who disagree are deprecated as mob like and worse, or why Eric Holder calls us “cowards,” or why Dr. Chu says we are like teenagers, the answer is that we are to be run like a campus, and Obama is our all-knowing paternalistic president.
Good Wars and Bad Wars
A year ago also I wrote an article predicting that the Democrats’ good war/bad war prism was a profound mistake, and that if elected Obama was going to have a hard time matching campaign rhetoric with presidential decisions. The truth is that Afghanistan — no harbors, landlocked, next to nuclear Pakistan, terribly difficult terrain, opium, harsh winters, 7th century tribal infrastructure — was always the more difficult challenge than Iraq: on the gulf, oil-rich, some secular and educated segments of the population, flat and clear weather, strategic location.
I don’t think I wrote anything a year ago that would not be entirely applicable right now: