Over the nine months of his Presidency, Obama has taken fewer hits from rightbloggers on foreign than on domestic issues. For one thing, despite a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq, he hasn’t changed much from the Bush era (to the sorrow of some liberals) except, to some extent, our policy on torture; for another, it doesn’t have much to do with rightbloggers’ vision of Obama as a new Hitler. Also, foreign policy is hard.
But in Obama’s speech at the United Nations this week, the President sunnily praised the U.N.’s mission, and said that though “my responsibility is to act in the interest of my nation and my people, and I will never apologize for defending those interests,” the U.S. would “embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” even with its enemies. As this sort of fuzzy one-worlder thinking goes against the historic charter of American conservatism, it proved too inviting a target for them to pass up.
David Horowitz encapsulated the general line in his headline: “Obama Attacks U.S.”
By this Horowitz meant that Obama bragged he had gotten the U.S. to “stop American torturers, close America’s torture chambers on Guantanamo, and leave Iraq (as though we were there for blood and oil).” As the first two actions would seem positive news to non-sadists, and the third won’t happen for another year (if then), perhaps “as an American and a Jew” Horowitz was most exercised by the President’s “attacks on Israel” — among these, Obama’s call to end the occupation of Arab lands. Horowitz didn’t mention that President Bush made a similar call last year.
(Later Horowitz found another black guy to beat up: Marc Lamont Hill, who had been hired by Bill O’Reilly. “Hill is one of a community of black intellectuals promoted well beyond their abilities,” said Horowitz.)
Because the President said he was “certainly not one who believes in indefinite occupations of other countries,” Michael Barone found Obama influenced by “early 1980s Marxist Latin America tracts,” and was “stuck in a time warp in which the United States is the bad guy.”
The President was well-received by the General Assembly, which made everything worse: “President Obama gave them virtually everything they could ask for without demanding anything in return that was not already on the agenda,” said a Heritage Foundation scholar, “and which they are prepared to twist to their advantage… Cooperation will be on their terms, on issues they wish to pursue.” Clearly the President should have come with a varmint gun and cleared the place out.
Former Republican Presidential candidate Alan Keyes showed America what a mistake it had made in not making him the first black POTUS. “Day by day the American people are learning from their experience of him that we cannot judge Obama by his words,” he wrote. “Much of what he says is semi-fictional, like the book that purports to be his autobiography (‘Dreams From My Father’).” Also, “Obama’s lips say, ‘There are basic principles that are universal.’ But his actions and policies thrust from the universe helpless children in the womb and helpless victims like Terri Schiavo.”
National Review‘s Michael Ledeen learned from the speech that Obama “rather likes tyrants and dislikes America.” “Barack Obama once again, embarrasses America,” said Wake Up America. “Never mind that Obama’s words were vapid utterances, he bathed in adoration,” said The Khaki Elephant. “So once again Obama took cheap shots at his own country to elevate his self image. To bad Joe Wilson wasn’t there.”
Commentary‘s Jennifer Rubin predicted the speech would cause the American People to rise against Obama. “Average Americans don’t buy into any of this,” she asserted. “… they, unlike their president, don’t suppose that the way to be liked is to defer to bullies and madmen… when there is a pervasive sense that America would rather defer and retreat than lead, the public’s ire rises… And they will hold him accountable not only for the increasingly dangerous world but also for his odd indifference to America’s — and consequently their — fate.” Rubin is the author of the October 29, 2008 article, “Ten Reasons Why McCain Could Still Win.”
After the serving of Presidential carrots came an unanticipated stick: after getting Russia on board with tougher sanctions against Iran should that country fail to observe international sanctions on nuclear weapons, Obama announced that Iran had been engaged in an unsanctioned nuclear enrichment plan, and demanded inspections.
As this would seem to the unpropagandized a clever way for Obama to use his U.N. goodwill to get them to lean on Iran, rightblogger chatter thereafter grew more diffuse in both its impact and its reasoning.
“Everyone knows Obama would never take the action needed to show Iran that we mean business,” said Flopping Aces. “He will hem and haw, talk and talk, and at the end of the day Iran will have a nuke.” Disappointingly, Flopping Aces failed to propose an alternative strategy.
At National Review Jamie M. Fly said the revelation “raises questions about his administration’s policy of engagement with Iran.” Fly wondered why Obama didn’t “use the United Nations Security Council meeting he chaired yesterday to pressure Russia and China to support the ‘crippling sanctions’ his administration has previously threatened if Iran did not halt its nuclear activities” — though it seems Obama’s backroom dealings have already borne fruit in that regard. It’s a moot point for Fly anyway, as “Iran will stonewall the investigation” — much as Iraq did with its still-undiscovered WMDs, we imagine.
Other operatives worked the margins. Asked at a G-20 press conference in Pittsburgh if his Iran announcement was a “victory,” Obama said, “This isn’t a football game, so I’m not interested in victory, I’m interested in resolving the problem.”
“Obama speaks like a lawyer who isn’t a football fan,” complained Patterico’s Pontifications. “Like football, international relations has a scoreboard and I don’t want this one to read ‘Iran, 1 — Israel, 0.'”
“He is going to get us killed,” cried Weasel Zippers. “I get what he’s saying,” allowed Say Anything. “But even so, what a stupid choice of words.” “Really a bad sound bite,” said Freedom Eden. “I am scared,” said Spurious Missives.
When this failed to spread the expected panic, Reliapundit turned to a novel approach: “Why does Obama say Tolly-bahn and Pocky-Stahn, and not Talleban and Packi -stan?” he asked. “For a real American brought up in America speaking American English the way Obama says these words would be an affectation.” Reliapundit suggested that Obama “learned these words a long time ago from people who spoke them in their native language and not English and these pronunciations are ingrained in him.” We have followed Reliapundit a while, and if it’s a parody site, he’s taking his time with the reveal.
Having done their due diligence in the foreign policy realm, rightbloggers returned to more agreeable subjects: for example, some kids singing about Obama in school during the last Black History Month. There they were on surer, if not saner, ground, and achieved the dissemination of the story to mainstream media outlets (“‘It’s just like the Hitler Youth all over again,’ said [Chris] Concannon, an unemployed 26-year-old former National Guardsman”) and death threats against the school’s principal. It must be nice for them to get back to their comfort zone.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 28, 2009