Friday, April 10, 2009
The world will little note, nor long remember, the angle of Obama's bow from the waist to King Abdullah; but ...
I'm in a particularly crusty mood at the moment, and this post may draw disagreement from many or maybe even most of those who read it. That's okay. I've just been working up to a rant, and I have to let it out.
In March 1936, my father was a 14-year-old in rural Lamesa, Texas, and he was fairly preoccupied with working toward the rank of Eagle Scout. Thus, he may, or he may not, have paid any attention to the national and international news of that month. The Hoover Dam was completed, and that certainly was a good and noteworthy demonstration of American engineering prowess. On St. Patrick's Day, they had a terrible flood in Pittsburgh. Daytona Beach hosted the first-ever American stock car race. Manhattan's Metropolitan Museum of Art paid an estimated $300,000 — a shocking sum — for Titian's "Venus and the Lute Player." And TIME magazine had already observed with respect to the upcoming presidential election that the incumbent administration of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt was
approach[ing] the November election in a high state of hope. The head of the firm, despite sporadic booing, remains extraordinarily popular with customers who must be resold. His health holds up as well as his glowing confidence. His campaign will be simple: "Things are getting better & better. We planned it that way. Let's have four years more of Democratic Recovery." The Party debt has been cleared away and millions of voters living on government bounty will not be allowed to forget who feeds them. And, above all, the Republicans have no one candidate now in sight who can fire the country with personal enthusiasm.
Across the Atlantic, the Royal Air Force conducted the first test-flight of the Spitfire Type 300. King Edward VIII, having succeeded King George V in January of that year, was deeply in love with Wallis Simpson — a not-quite-yet divorced American — but was still a few months away from his decision to abdicate the throne to marry her. He drew mixed press reviews from his participation on behalf of British and Commonwealth manufacturers at the British Industries Fair outside London: some thought he had compromised his dignity by pulling up his pants leg to display, and roundly endorse, his "ingenious 'Munrospun Sock[,]' into which [was] woven its own garter."
I'm sure if there had been an internet in March 1936, English-language bloggers would have blogged about all of these things. Would my dad have been among them? Not likely, unless there had also been a blogging merit badge available for him to earn.
But with the hindsight available a mere three and a half years later, it would be crystal clear to everyone in the world that the most important event of March 1936 had occurred on the seventh day of that month when — in clear and unambiguous violation of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles — German military forces suddenly reoccupied the Rhineland. Either France or Britain could have immediately and decisively crushed the German forces — not only throwing them out of the Rhineland but almost certainly causing, as a consequence, the toppling of the German government led by Chancellor and Führer Adolf Hitler. Either nation had ample military force to enforce the Treaty at minimal military risk, but neither had the political spine to do so.
There and then, the civilized world forfeited its last clear chance to prevent, at minimal cost and with unquestionable righteousness, the horror that became World War Two. By the time my father enrolled at the University of Texas in September 1941, most of the world was already at war, and he entered an accelerated NROTC program designed to churn out naval officers to fight and, if necessary, to die on the oceans bordering both of America's shores.
Perhaps when we all have the benefit of similar hindsight, you will pardon me, friends and neighbors, that I have not already blogged this week about whether Barack Obama did or did not bow to the King of Saudi Arabia. (He did, which was stupid and beneath the dignity of the POTUS, but at least he's had the minimal sense to brazenly lie about it now.) And maybe you'll forgive me in a few years, gentle readers, for failing to obsess during the past week or so over the outcome of the close special election in New York's 20th Congressional District, or the considerably more distressing probable last gasps of Norm Coleman's efforts to keep (it pains me to even type these words) Al Franken from taking one of Minnesota's seats in the U.S. Senate. In the long run and the big picture, even in a Senate teetering on the edge of a filibuster-proof majority, Al Franken is going to be no more consequential than Edward VIII's socks, either with or without garters.
But in three or four or six years, when a North Korean missile drops a nuke somewhere on Japan, or perhaps in the vicinity of Anchorage — or, even assuming no continued technical progress by the Norks, they simply hand over a very, very dirty bomb to al Qaeda to put into a container bound for the Port of Houston or wherever — then the whole world will know that it was this past ten days in which Barack Obama proved himself as gutless, indecisive, and naïve as the Brits and the French were in March 1936.
Those of you who were alive and aware in 1986 surely remember how Ronald Reagan reacted to Mohamar Khadaffi's "Line of Death" in the Gulf of Sidra. Even John Kennedy reacted forcefully to a threat of nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba in 1962 (although he himself had invited that particular bit of Soviet adventurism by his weak-kneed showing at the 1961 Vienna Summit).
So what did Barack Obama do about North Korea's missile launch, made in defiance of the United Nations and world opinion, made to intimidate and threaten our staunch allies Japan and South Korea, and made to humiliate the United States?
He toured Europe. Where he blamed America first for all the world's problems, winning applause from reflexively anti-American crowds and not a damned thing of value more from our European allies.
Then he came home and cut production of the preeminent air superiority fighter of the first half of the 21st Century.
Yes, in the last 10 days, Obama has answered the only question remaining about his administration: We're now sure beyond any doubt that it will be not just a domestic fiscal catastrophe, but a foreign policy/national security catastrophe as well.
Barack Obama is on track to become the worst president in American history, and I frankly can't see any way that can be avoided any more.
Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to The world will little note, nor long remember, the angle of Obama's bow from the waist to King Abdullah; but ... and sent a trackback ping are listed here:
(1) A.W. made the following comment | Apr 10, 2009 8:13:25 AM | Permalink
Now, now, Beldar, as IMAO points out, it is a viscious lie to say that Obama bowed.
He bent his knee, so technically it is a courtsy.
Now don't you feel better? :-)
But I whole heartedly agree that it isn't a very big deal. Bush never did anything so lame, but holding hands and recieving a medal is not as much better was any true american would like.
And bluntly we do have bigger fish to fry.
I remember watching the movie "Top Secret" and at one point, they explained that the romantic interest in that movie "Escaped America by baloon during the carter years." I have a feeling that people will say similar things about the Obama presidency.
But I won't say it is irreversable yet. i mean, a little perspective, when Lincoln blockaded our ports, that was a "not ready for primetime" moment. As Stevens correctly pointed out, you don't blockade your own ports, you close them; and by calling it a blockade, you implicitly recognize you are at least fighting a belligerant power. That was a clear blunder, although you might debate how much difference it actually made. And you have to think that when our soldiers turned tail and ran at the first battle of bull run, that alot of americans thought "oh, god, this Lincoln guy doesn't know what he is doing." But Lincoln stuck it out and eventually found a general willing to stick it out, too, Grant and today he is considered one of our greatest presidents. Most people say he was our best.
so, in historical terms, its not too late for a successful presidency. But I will admit there hasn't been an encouraging sign, yet. Certainly, Obama has never shown himself to be half as brilliant as Lincoln, despite the fawning comparisons in the MSM.
You may, in the end, be deemed prescient in your conclusion, pardner, but I'm not quite ready to make that leap. The President has over 3 1/2 years to shove his administration in one direction or another, or many at the same time, and I'm not quite ready to write its history at this point.
After all of the premature histrionics that have met the Bush administration, I for one am not ready to rush to a similar response to Obama.
There is much still to happen. You may be correct in your predictions. I pray that you aren't, at least not completely.
(3) Michael J. Myers made the following comment | Apr 10, 2009 11:56:02 AM | Permalink
Mr. Dyer, you are headed in the direction of Obama Derangement Syndrome--a malady which will increasingly infect or affect thinking Americans--at least those who are not in the self styled "reality based community".
But the American voting public (not necessarily congruous with the American thinking public) metaphorically put Barack Obama and America's future together in a barrel on the edge of Niagara Falls. We've now gone over the edge, and we'll be falling for at least four more years. Right now there's nought to do but hold on and wait for the impending crash. We may get through it. He's definitely not the captain I would have chosen to steer the barrel, but the thought of Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi or Mrs. Clinton as replacements does not bear consideration. At least with John McCain we wouldn't have had some idiot running around the world apologizing for this that and the other thing and not getting anything in return. They still won't love or respect us in the morning.
Mr. Myers (#3), I'm not sure how much we disagree overall. But one thing I have emphatically not done is engage in the thinking that "put[s] Barack Obama and America's future together in a barrel on the edge of Niagra Falls."
To again refer to Reagan, whose clarity is exactly what we lack right now, America is a country with a government, not a government with a country.
I've given up hope on the Obama presidency. I also believe that its actions, both at home and abroad, are definitely going to have unpleasant and, indeed, grave consequences for America in the future.
But sir, you do me grave insult if you suggest that I think America is no different from, nor better than, Barack Obama. He's an affliction, and a temporary one at that. I still believe we will survive him; but I do believe he has already guaranteed that he will be a worse president than even Jimmy Carter.
(5) stan made the following comment | Apr 10, 2009 2:09:24 PM | Permalink
Obama has embarked down his hubris afflicted trail with the memorable explanation "I won". I have read that he is doing exactly what he said he would. Somehow I'm not able to recall the campaign promises or the national debate where he explained his intentions to do all that he has.
Yet not even Obama, the Democratic Congress and the MSM can ruin America. Although they clearly have the power to inflict much damage, we will overcome. And in the end, they will have damaged themselves far more.
Eventually, the conservatives and Republicans will figure out that they need to communicate with the undecided voters who determine elections. Hoping that the MSM will be nice and communicate our message for us is a policy which hasn't worked out very well lately. While I have every confidence that conservatives and the GOP are capable of extreme stupidity for lengthy periods of time, I don't think they are capable of continuing this particular communication failure forever.
I predict that some time in the next 4 years the GOP or at least some conservative activist will realize that they need to find a way to touch base with the most crucial portion of the electorate in order to insure that these voters have access to the truth. When that light bulb finally goes off, "news" in America will change. And the result will not be very happy for Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, Frank, Waxman, Rangel, and the rest of the insane, corrupt left.
(6) Rhodium Heart made the following comment | Apr 10, 2009 2:21:30 PM | Permalink
Mr. Dyer, sir, I fear you are far too optimistic.
We get the leadership we deserve. This is a republican democracy and the people have the right to elect leaders they so choose. And while gerrymandered legislative districts can cause leaders to choose their "led," rather than vice-versa, there's no gerrymandering that forces a president on an unwitting vote public. It was crystal clear who Barack Obama was. And the public voted for him. Now we are going to have to live with the consequences of our public choice.
The North Korean missile. The pathetic non-response to the pirates. The incident between the Chinese and the U.S. Navy. The groveling toward Putin and the Russians. Military equipment to Venezuela. Never before has an American president been tested so frequently, so early, and failed so clearly. This is far worse than the early years of the Kennedy administration, which we survived because the president finally grew a pair during the Cuban Missile Crisis. But the threats now are far more numerous and far more decentalized. It's not just the USA vs. the Soviets.
We knowingly voted to embark on a course characterized by weakness, wussiness, and supplication toward those who would do us harm. That's not a Manchurian Candidate Obama doing that to us. The wounds are self-inflicted. We're taking on friendly fire right now because that's what we voted to do. It's not about Obama. It's about having a voting majority that deliberately chose weakness.
The world is going to look very different in four years. And not in a good way. The last time civilization was this weak in the face of a barbarian threat, we had the dark ages last for a thousand years.
Rhodium Heart (#6), I am an optimist at heart, and your fear that I'm being too optimistic now may be justified. I agree that elections have consequences, and that a slim majority of the American people are directly responsible for the consequences of the Obama presidency through their votes. I am glad I was not one of them. And one of the matters on which I remain optimistic is the likelihood that enough American voters will perceive their mistake and correct it at their next opportunities, as did those who voted for Carter in 1976 but Reagan in 1980 and 1984.
(8) voirdire made the following comment | Apr 10, 2009 2:59:41 PM | Permalink
(9) Michael J. Myers made the following comment | Apr 10, 2009 4:47:24 PM | Permalink
Mr. Beldar, I would not knowingly give you grave insult. And the Anointed One, Messiah, Lightworker or whatever the heck the reality based community wants to call him is most assuredly NOT the country. We're better than that.
I'm almost tempted to bring back the Clintonian form of apology "Mistakes were made"for I think that a mistake was in fact made last November. But the voters of this country, misled by an entirely too complaisant press that failed to do its job (and has justifiably lost the confidence of many of its readers) put Obama's hands on the controls for four years. So now, for better or for worse, it's our country's "turn in the barrel"--and it will be no more pleasant for the country than it was for the unfortunate barrel inhabitant in that original metaphor. But I see no way out of that suffering. We can and should oppose the more egregiously stupid policies of the Obama administration--we can attempt to limit the damage. We can hope that Obama grows in his job--I'm always hopeful for the future, but like you, at this point in my life and life experience, I didn't get here on a turnip truck, so don't intend to hold my breath until that happens.
I suspect that, all in all, you and I probably arrive at the same conclusion. There's going to be some wreckage to the civil institutions in our country, and Obama's successor is going to be tasked with trying to clean it up and bring things back to the way they were.
(10) Sterling A Minor made the following comment | Apr 11, 2009 12:27:46 AM | Permalink
Today, conservative columnist Kathleen Parker addressed the very question raised in this Blog and others about President Obama:
"Call me a mother of boys. Or call Freud, if you must. But would that life were really as complicated and confused as leaders insist it is. Unfortunately, most of world history seems to have pivoted on the balance or imbalance of hormones, with testosterone presenting the greatest challenge. (I note this as a fan.)
In what may prove to be an epochal development, Obama seems to have his under control. He doesn’t strut, swagger or flex. He doesn’t even notice the hydrant.
He says we should show leadership by listening. That we should work in partnership with others. That we should show humility. This is, of course, pure porn for women. But unfortunately, women don’t rule the world. Men still do. And we have to worry whether Obama will be viewed as weak and the U.S., therefore, vulnerable."
"On their leadership blog, former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee and columnist Steve Pearlstein asked whether Obama should have “grabbed an opportunity … to demonstrate his toughness, showing his saber as well as his smile.”
Verily, spoken like men."
"A man who listens may be perceived as weak by those who prefer to talk big. But playground wisdom holds that showoffs are usually overcompensating, and the strongest one has nothing to prove. To answer the [Brablee-Pearlstein] question: When you’re the big dog, you can afford to smile. The saber is understood."
Mr. Minor (#10): Thanks for your civil comment. Here is a link to Ms. Parker's column that you've quoted from. With due respect, however: I'm sorry, but Ms. Parker -- and you, if you agree with her -- are simply wrong, and history has proved it repeatedly.
The saber emphatically is not "understood" when the provocateur doubts the "big dog's" willingness to ever use it. The late and very stupid Saddam Hussein misjudged two different Bush presidents on that subject, but they were in fact willing to use the saber. The imams of Iran knew Jimmy Carter was a lapdog; they released the American hostages within hours of Reagan becoming Commander in Chief precisely because they knew he would be willing to use the saber. All sorts of terrorists and despots correctly figured that Bill Clinton would threaten and fume, but never do more than launch off a salvo of cruise missiles or drop a few strings of bombs from 50,000 feet, and so they played him like a violin.
Ms. Parker -- who I would certainly describe as something other than a "conservative columnist," although I am a "big-tent conservative" myself; but if you and the WaPo want to paint her as a "conservative" for purposes of making straw men arguments, have at it -- is engaged in an adolescent fantasy. But I object, and dispute, her (and perhaps your, if you agree with her) insinuation that being male or female has anything in particular to do with this. There are plenty of women leaders -- the most spectacular example, of course, having been Margaret Thatcher -- who've had the necessary wisdom, not testosterone, to understand that you best avoid wars by being constantly prepared to win them, and that if you avoid all fights, you're going to be picked on, walked over, and eventually forced into a bigger one than if you'd stood up for yourself in the first place. See, again, my reference in the original post to Hitler and the Rhineland.
(12) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Apr 11, 2009 1:59:07 AM | Permalink
Dear Mr. Dyer: The picture you included of Al Franken says all that needs to be said about the present Democratic Congress. Many thanks.
You assert your optimism in the comments, but the post belies you. Cheer up! However bad things look, and they do look gloomy at the moment, gloom won't win conflicts. Resolution will, but only if you are in charge. The adults aren't in charge at the moment. As Churchill found in 1937-39, that is trying. But he stuck it out and we are all better for it. I think cheerfulness is in order. There are some good trends at work:
a) the press has made a colossal bet on The One. When it loses, they will turn on him, giving a great opportunity to the right to assault the casual lying and malice that flow in the press's collective bloodstream. The continued decline of the print press will only abet this trend.
b) the Congressional elections of 2010 will have more Democratic seats up than GOP.
c) the harsh insistence that opposition to The One is motivated by racism is going to backfire.
d) the continuing harsh economic climate is going to make adult virtues far more attractive than it was in 2008. The pining for the most "not-Bush" is going to be out.
Reform of the Democratic Party will have to commence at some time. Some of the commenters mention Kennedy's handling of the 1962 Cuban crisis as proof of the strong virtues. Such a gross misreading of what was a long term American defeat astonishes me. Much more on point would be Truman's ordering the Berlin airlift in 1948-49. Try to imagine any Democratic President doing that today. More, Truman did it in full confidence that the GOP-controlled Congress, which he detested, would back him up. He was right. Again, try to imagine that today.
Meanwhile, chin up. To that end, I offer this clip. It may go too far the other way, but it never fails to cheer me up.
(13) Paul_In_Houston made the following comment | Apr 11, 2009 10:27:22 AM | Permalink
I've said this before, just after the election. Five months later, I see nothing in it that needs changing.
On Election Day, the Ace of Spades website posted a picture of two Iraqi women, with purple-stained fingers showing they had voted in an election.
It was a "Get Out The Vote" message, noting that whatever inconveniences YOU may experience by voting, "These women literally risked their lives to vote".
My first reaction was, "And THE ONE can hardly wait to sell them out".
Obama’s rhetoric on Iraq, and comments about Israel, showed a casual willingness to sell out allies when convenient.
A commenter asked, “Who appointed us to be their guardians? Why is it America’s job to make sure they are safe?”
Perhaps we'd rather not have the entire world as a nuclear-armed camp, figuring that the more countries with these things, the more risk that some will eventually be used.
Our alliances with these countries ain’t out of the goodness of our heart, but for our own best interests. Sell one out, and I’ll bet you the others will sure take notice.
The commenter seemed to be saying, “To hell with them; let them take care of themselves!”
Ok! But, they might do exactly that, and we might be less than thrilled with the results.
If countries under threat (Taiwan, South Korea, Japan) think that our word is no longer any good, they’ll almost certainly feel the need for nuclear arms as the only real deterrent to someone like China. And note, those countries ALL have the necessary economic, industrial and technical wherewithal to go nuclear. All they need do is make the decision.
Others, in the Middle East will want them to deter Iran. How about Saudi Arabia and Egypt? Maybe Libya decides that abandoning their efforts was a mistake. THOSE countries may lack the technology, but they can certainly afford to finance it.
It could just go on and on.
THAT could be a very likely consequence of us deciding to just disengage ourselves from these countries.
We’ve tried, for a long time, to convince others that they didn’t need them, because WE would provide the nuclear umbrella.
When they figure they can’t count on us, the whole thing unravels.
If the commenter gets his wish, and they DO take care of themselves, it could get real interesting for us as well.
As we also reside on the same planet, I think it almost impossible we would remain unaffected.
So, standing up for our allies is not just a nice thing to do; it makes the hardest kind of common sense.
Simply put, we protect others in order to protect ourselves.
Abandoning them, selling them out, would be an unbelievably short-sighted (as in STUPID) thing to do, and would hurt us more in the long run. No one would trust an agreement with us; and why should they, given such a record?
Instead of being worth a damn, our word would only be noise.
And that would be tragic, because WE set its' value, by our actions.
(14) Linus made the following comment | Apr 11, 2009 12:05:17 PM | Permalink
I, like you, Beldar, have tried to not let my reflexive reaction to Obama's actions come out of my mouth, without first critically examining that reaction. After the BDS I've seen, I'm determined to not catch ODS. But I also recognize that we can't allow others to reframe ANY criticism of Obama or the Democrats as ODS, or we'll lose forever, plain and simple. And I think it's clear that a critical look at the Administration's actions over the last 10 days signal very clearly what kind of response the Obamadministration will provide to foreign belligerency, and it ought to scare you, if you are at all passing familiar with the current foreign powers' inclinations toward belligerency.
(15) ketchikan made the following comment | Apr 12, 2009 12:53:32 PM | Permalink
While the other is the world think that Obama is weak, I am concerned that American citizens, are perceived as spineless also.
"We get the leaders we deserve" How often have you heard that? I used to bristle whenever I heard that sentiment.
But we do deserve the goverment we have. Sometime in the past a long long long time ago we Americans felt that the country was on the right path and voting was all that we needed to do to keep it that way. However, thru blindness and/or neglect by the voters and the "informed elites" the far left has taken hold deep down in our society. The media propagandizes freely and without an opposition that is willing to sacrifice its comforts. Our educational institutions (learning grounds for future voters) are controlled by the left. We now have voters who believe that Obama is going to pay their bills.
While we must protect ourselves from foreign threats we must be just as vigilant against domestic decline. This requires that we get off our behinds, sacrifice some time and money and ACTIVELY take steps to right the course of this county.
I read the intelligent blogs (such as Beldar, Powerline etc) listen to the talk radio shows that educate and inform and discuss issues with my husband. But now I realize this is not enough. So I am exploring ways to get a spine, do the patriotic thing and stand up for what I believe is best for America and not worry what others may think of me.
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