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Jewish World Review
April 17, 2009
/ 23 Nisan 5769
Obama's regrettable precedent
Another Democratic president has shattered precedent.
Democratic politicians take great pride in shattering American
precedents, and they do so with such regularity that it is surprising
there are any precedents left to shatter, except, I guess, for the
precedents Democrats establish on the ruins of earlier precedents. I
hope that when the next Republican president comes along, he or she will
shatter a few Democratic precedents. Given the serial bungling of the
Obama administration, I shall not be surprised to see that
precedent-shattering Republican come along in 2013.
During his recent European peregrination, our haughty president became
the first American president to speak ill of America while on foreign
soil. Actually, it is rare for an American president to speak ill of
America anywhere. President Barack H. Obama does it practically
everywhere. Now that Fidel Castro has quieted down and the French left
is in abeyance, President Obama has become America's leading critic.
Until the ex-presidency of Jimmy Carter, it was unheard of for a former
president to speak ill of his country or of the sitting president while
traveling abroad. Jimmy broke that precedent early in the presidency of
the man who beat him, Ronald Reagan. Since then, Jimmy frequently has
piped up against America and whoever might be president. He did it as
recently as 2005, when he said, "I think what's going on at Guantanamo
Bay and in Abu Ghraib and other places is a disgrace to the United
States of America."
Now along comes the precedent-shattering President Obama, traveling
through Europe on his virginal passport a passport that was used
precisely once before he became a national political figure. His tour of
Europe was the burlesque of a preening popinjay. He gave the queen an
iPod. His wife gave her a friendly squeeze. Oh, yes, and the president
declared that the official language of German-speaking Austria is
"Austrian." All that was amusing, but the criticism of his homeland
while in Europe was not. Actually, I am tired of hearing his criticism
of his homeland when he is at home. We know he believes America was a
failed state before he became president. Now let him return the country
to the bipartisanship that he promised.
While in Europe, our sententious president blamed America for genocide
and torture. He brought up Hiroshima and Guantanamo. He accused us of
arrogance. What can President Obama possibly have against arrogance?
Since his emergence on the national stage a year or so ago, he has given
me the impression that he considers arrogance among the virtues.
It was in Strasbourg, France, among what he might call the
Strasbourgundians, that he was most critical of his country. Said our
president: "Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to
partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where
America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive." Yes, he
said "derisive," and he continued: "On both sides of the Atlantic, these
attitudes have become all too common." Then he concluded: "They are not
wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide
across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated." After reading that
preachy drivel, I have to say that not even Jimmy Carter is capable of
such empty moralizing. Perhaps this is how one talks as a community
organizer or a motivational speaker, both of which Obama seems to have
been, but now he is the president of the United States!
There was a time, a couple of decades ago, when this sort of carping
about America was cited as the product of "liberal guilt." Doubtless,
had President Obama been sounding like this in 1984, say, at the
Democratic National Convention, critics such as Jeane Kirkpatrick would
be chiding him for "liberal guilt." Mind you, at the time, I took issue
with this diagnosis of our liberal friends. Then and now, they do not
believe they have been guilty of any moral or intellectual failing. If
you listen to the precedent-shattering President Obama, you will note
that he is accusing other Americans of failures
and vice, not himself. This is not liberal guilt; it is liberal
arrogance. It was liberal arrogance in the past, and so it is today. It
is going to wear thin with my fellow Americans very shortly.
Consider this one last slap at two great men after one of America's
greatest triumphs for peace and justice. While gloating over America's
financial decline, our president noted to his European audience that a
new financial order is being created by the world's top 20 financial
powers, not by "just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a
brandy. . But that's not the world we live in, and it shouldn't be the
world that we live in." Whoever told our president that the post-World
War II world came from these two great men "sitting in a room with a
brandy" misinformed him. His knowledge of history is as defective as his
knowledge of Roosevelt's and Churchill's tastes.
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JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.
© 2008, Creators Syndicate