Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WSJ Pundit: “Obama Blames America”

Excerpts from WSJ editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz’s column today - "Obama Blames America" - followed by my comments.

The president of the United States has completed another outing abroad in his now standard form: as the un-Bush. At one stop after another -- the latest in Latin America, where Hugo Chávez expressed wishes to be his friend -- Barack Obama fulfilled his campaign vows to show the nations of the world that a new American leadership stood ready to atone for the transgressions of the old. …

All went as expected in these travels, not counting certain unforeseen results of that triumphal European tour. The images of that trip, in which Mr. Obama dazzled ecstatic Europeans with citations of the offenses against international goodwill and humanity committed by the nation he leads, are now firmly imprinted on the minds of Americans.

That this is so, and that it is not good news for him, is truth of a kind not quite fathomable to this president and his men.

Now, on the heels of those travels, comes his release of the guidelines known as "torture memos" -- a decision designed to emphasize, again, the superior ethical and moral leadership the world can expect from this administration as compared with that of presidencies past. This exercise in comparisons is one of which Mr. Obama may well never tire. …

In his appearance before employees of the CIA Monday -- part inspirational, part pep rally -- Mr. Obama held forth on the need to improve our image in the world, and on how in adhering to this great nation's principles of justice and right we could only be made safer. He was here to assure the employees of the CIA of his support, to explain, again, the release of those memos. And to describe, as he did, with some eloquence, how great and exceptional a democracy we were.

That no such estimation of the United States managed to infiltrate the content or tone of the president's remarks during his European tour -- nary a hint -- we know, and it is not surprising.

He had gone to Europe not as the voice of his nation, but as a missionary with a message of atonement for its errors. Which were, as he perceived them -- arrogance, dismissiveness, Guantanamo, deficiencies in its attitudes toward the Muslim world, and the presidency of Harry Truman and his decision to drop the atomic bomb, which ended World War II.

No sitting American president had ever delivered indictments of this kind while abroad, or for that matter at home, or been so ostentatiously modest about the character and accomplishment of the nation he led. He was mediator, an agent of change, a judge, apportioning blame -- and he was above the battle.

None of this display during Mr. Obama's recent travels could have come as a surprise to legions of his supporters, nor would many of them be daunted by their new president's preoccupation with our moral failures.
Five decades of teaching in colleges and universities across the land, portraying the U.S. as a power mainly responsible for injustice and evil, whose military might was ever a danger to the world -- a nation built on the fruits of greed, rapacity and racism -- have had their effect. (emphasis added)

The products of this education find nothing strange in a president quick to focus on the theme of American moral failure. He may not share many of their views, but there is, nonetheless, much that they find familiar about him.

The same can't be said for the large numbers of Americans who caught up with the details of the president's apology tour. Presidents have been transformed by office, and Mr. Obama may yet be one of them. But on the evidence so far, he has, as few presidents before him, much to transform. Or, at least, to understand.

Rebinowitz’s entire column’s here. I encourage you to read it all.


My comments:

President Obama’s apology tours remind me of nothing so much as those of Neville Chamberlain and British leaders during the 1930s. Like Obama, those British leaders were apologetic for things their county had done and careful not to do anything that might upset Mr. Hitler and Senor Mussolini. Even after war was declared, Chamberlain’s government refused to mine Germany’s harbors and the Rhine for fear of upsetting Hitler.

Chamberlain, like Obama a supreme egotist, believed the differences between Germany and England could still be resolved if only he had a chance to sit down with Hitler.

I hope Obama proves to be one of those Presidents about whom we say, “He grew in office.”

For America’s sake, as well as his, growth needs to start now. The bad guys pounce quickly when they spot weakness.

Hat tip: cks


Anonymous said...

One can only hope that Obama will "grow in office". His actions (foreign policy wise) demonstrate a severe lack of historical knowledge. I wonder if he took any history courses (western civ and US history) while in college.