The “Sunday Review “section of the New York Times—what used to be called the “Op-Ed” Section—unerringly reveals liberals’ current fantasies and fixations. Now they’re in a panic about the surpassing incompetence of the Obama presidency, a somnolent ineptitude so perverse and pervasive it could damage the reputations of all known accomplices—including Hillary. No less than three articles in the latest “Sunday Review” attempt to inoculate Hillary from Obama-Incompetence.
Start with Maureen Dowd’s column titled “42 and 45 Overpower 44—As singles hitter strikes out, Hillary’s on deck.” I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure this is Dowd’s first column since 1999 that does not mention “W” and “Rummy.” Her new target is Obama, whom she attacks as “fatigued and fed-up.” “Obama’s reign has become increasingly bloodless . . . Things have now reached the point where it feels as though 42 and 45 have already taken over the reins of Washington power from 44, who is fading Snapchat-fast.” (Not fast enough; he’ll be golfing at Andrews Air Force Base for another 33 months, but who’s counting?) Of course, Dowd wants us to forget that Hillary was a chief “architect” of Obama’s incoherent foreign policy—something the House Benghazi hearings will prevent.
Then we have globe-trotting savant Thomas L. Friedman explaining to us that, yes, our foreign policy is a mess and the U.S. is on the wrong track, but “It’s Not Just About Obama.” “There has been a festival of commentary of late bemoaning the pusillanimous foreign policy of President Obama,” but Tom wishes to “rise in – partial – defense of Mr. Obama.” “To pretend that Obama’s wariness is just because he’s a sissy community organizer” is nonsense, Tom tells us. It’s partly the fault of, let’s see, “the decisions by the Bush I and Clinton teams to expand NATO,” the Bush II team deciding to fight two unsuccessful wars, the weakness of our European allies, the political fragility of Mideast nations, our $1.3 trillion debt to China, and political corruption in Ukraine. But there is a still deeper cause of American weakness in the world, according to Tom: “Our biggest problem, though, is not Europe or Obama. Our biggest problem is us and our own political paralysis” which has produced a failure “to do more nation-building at home first—including infrastructure investment, replacing income and corporate taxes with a carbon tax, a major new push for both energy efficiency and properly extracted natural gas, skill-building and immigration reform and gradual long-term fiscal rebalancing.” In Friedman’s reckoning, these numerous domestic policy failures have nothing to do with Obama. He’s just President of the United States.
Then we have a full-page editorial titled “President Obama and the World,” where The Times addresses the widespread perception that “the world sometimes seems as if it is flying apart, with Mr. Obama unable to fix it.” It was a mistake, the Times acknowledges, for Obama to fancy himself a transformational figure whose mere election would enhance America’s global stature. It admits further that the “perception—of weakness, dithering, inaction, there are many names for it – has indisputably had a negative effect on Mr. Obama’s global standing.” The Times gamely wades through Obama’s various foreign policy misadventures–Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Ukraine, Iran, “the Asian puzzle,” Israel and the Palestinians, “Arab turmoil”– to demonstrate that “Mr. Obama’s record on foreign policy is not as bad as critics say.” Faint praise indeed.
One thing is certain. Vladimir Putin won’t let Obama’s foreign policy problems go away. Obama would have to improve the situation with a humbling change of course—a policy “reset,” if you will. Unfortunately excessive humility is not generally counted among Obama’s personal deficiencies. So the next two and a half years could be challenging for Hillary and the Democrats, as well as for Rand Paul and other so-called “neo-isolationists” in the Republican Party, who will have to recalibrate their approach to foreign affairs.
Copyright Thomas Doerflinger 2014. All Rights Reserved.