The Prism of Obama
- From: jose el fontanero <josefsoplar@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 6 Jun 2009 09:11:39 -0700 (PDT)
The Prism of Obama
By Jonah Goldberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There is one thing about Barack
Obama's speech in Cairo that critics and supporters can agree on: It
was vintage Obama.
As an Obama critic, let me say from the outset that there was much
that was good and praiseworthy in the president's address at Al-Azhar
University on Thursday. His celebration of human rights, his
condemnation of violent extremism and his denunciation of the anti-
Semitism that infests so much of the Middle East, including Al-Azhar
University, were welcome and eloquent. This shouldn't surprise. As
Obama himself likes to observe, he can give a good speech.
And that points to another reason this was vintage Obama: It was
fundamentally about him. It's becoming a cliche to say that Obama is
always campaigning — running for a job he already has. But that may
put the cart before the horse. Just as plausibly, Obama is simply
being Obama, a man hardwired to see the world as a stage built just
for him, who can charm his way out of tight spots so well, it's like
he's following Yogi Berra's advice: "When you come to a fork in the
road, take it."
That can be a great personality for a candidate, perhaps not for a
president. Consider Obama's habit of casting major issues through the
prism of his personal radiance. For example, he premised his big
speech last month on Guantanamo on his own unique relationship with
the Constitution and Declaration of Independence: "I stand here today
as someone whose own life was made possible by these documents. My
father came to our shores in search of the promise that they offered.
My mother made me rise before dawn to learn of their truth when I
lived as a child in a foreign land. My own American journey was paved
by generations of citizens who gave meaning to those simple
By all means, let us settle questions of national security and the
Constitution based on Obama's "American journey," as if the Founding
Fathers were in-house writers for the Hallmark Channel.
In Cairo, Obama was once again standing on the shoulders of his own
"I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region
where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that
partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is,
not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as
president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes
of Islam wherever they appear."
That should have been a warning sign. In addition to CEO of GM,
Thwarter of Rising Ocean Tides and countless other duties not found in
the Constitution or tradition, Obama has decided to add Defender of
the Muslim Faith to his job description.
Obama was reliably Obamaesque again when he disparaged the Iraq war as
a "war of choice." But wait, he also thinks Iraq is better without
Saddam, so maybe it was a good choice? Apparently not: "So let me be
clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one
nation by any other."
Now this is a real problem. Putting aside the "should" question for a
moment, it is simply a fact of history that a system of government can
be imposed upon one nation by another. Sometimes for the worse,
sometimes not. The Soviets imposed systems of government across
Eastern Europe. America imposed systems of government — thank goodness
— in Germany, Japan and South Korea. And we imposed a system of
government in Iraq and are trying to do likewise in Afghanistan.
Which brings us back to that pesky "should" part. As ever, Obama's
positions on Iraq cannot be reconciled. Just as he often celebrates
our troops' success but can't say we succeeded, he celebrates Iraq's
democratic progress but — hamstrung by his own ideology and pride —
won't fully acknowledge that such progress is even possible, given
that it began at the point of an American gun. In short, President
Obama is straddling Iraq just as candidate Obama did.
But that's the irony here. This was precisely the moment to let Obama
be Obama. For instance: Yes, he is a hypocrite for downplaying his
Muslim connections when running for office and then touting them once
in office. But such hypocrisy is a small price to pay. If Nixon was a
statesman for laying aside his anti-Communism to engage China, then
surely Obama can brag about his Muslim father. Obama has a cult of
personality in the Muslim street. If he can exploit it for America's
and the world's benefit, he should.
I am dubious any of this will work. But if ever there was a time to
let Obama be Obama, this was it.
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