Remember when Al Gore referred to George W. Bush as “snippy”? (He was, too, or could be.) Well, our current president is very, very snippy. And somewhat mean. And bluntly partisan. You can see all this in his reaction to Republican budget plans and ideas.
He doesn’t say that those plans and ideas are merely misguided. “My friends on the other side are well-meaning. We all want to save the country from this mess we’re in. But they have it all wrong.” Obama never says anything like that. Instead, he says that Paul Ryan & Co. are dishonest, un-American, and out to starve your grandma.
Obama’s sheer lack of class could be a boon to Republicans in 2012. An obnoxious Obama will be easier to beat than a gracious Obama. Remember that guy? The one who gave the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention? Mr. One America? Strangely, he has not really been that as president.
And, again, Republicans are lucky. You can be likable, charming, and ecumenical, as you socialize the country. But Obama has been something else. In demeanor and rhetoric, he has been like a DNC chairman — Debbie Wasserman Schultz, at her feistiest.
Walk with me down Memory Lane for a second. In the 2000 general election campaign, Bush had a very, very bad first debate. He came on strong in the next two. But he floundered in the first one. It could have sunk his campaign. But Gore had behaved like such a jerk — rolling his eyes, sighing, etc. — all the post-debate attention was on that: Gore’s boorishness, not Bush’s stumbles.
That was lucky, for Bush and the Republicans. They — we — were also lucky in this: The two Democratic nominees who faced Bush, Gore and John Kerry, were two of the least likable men in public life (as I see it). And the first opponent got more votes than Bush; and the second came very close. What if those Democrats had been peaches?
In the past, Obama’s likability was one of his great assets. As I look at things, that asset is gone, because the likability is. Or, as I’m doing my looking at things, am I doing so through thickly partisan glasses?
I want to quote this report from Syria: “They opened fire from roof-tops as mourners marched from a mosque to a cemetery . . .” What sort of people would do such a thing, gun down innocents as they march in a funeral procession? Such people can be found in any society, I’m sorry to say. Dictatorships rarely have trouble staffing up.
I will now quote the Telegraph quoting al-Jazeera: “There was a crowd crossing an overpass. They were met by a hail of gunfire. There were incredibly chaotic scenes. It was quite clear that there was a funeral procession — and it was met by gunfire.” Of course.
Where has the United States been, as this evil has been perpetrated? Have we recalled our ambassador, made a fuss at the U.N.? Zero. This Washington Post editorial correctly tells of our national shame.
A final word, for now: When Israel announced the expansion of some housing in its capital, Jerusalem, the Obama administration went nuts. Absolutely nuts. Everyone — president, vice president, secretary of state — was mobilized against Israel.
When the Syrian government mows down unarmed innocents in the streets — nothing. For more than two years now, we’ve seen the worldview of the Obama administration, expressed in foreign policy. Are you sickened yet?
This report says, “Authorities in China have launched their toughest clampdown on dissent in years . . .” Oh, yes. We also learn that the U.S. will have “human-rights talks” with China. Leading our delegation will be Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner.
Do you remember that name? He’s the one who, last year, expressed guilt to the Chinese over the new immigration law in Arizona. You know how it goes: China is a one-party dictatorship with a gulag; some Americans are trying to make sure that immigration is legal, rather than illegal. Both of our societies have moral defects, and we can discuss them in a spirit of humility, without judgments.
Let me jog your memory, re our assistant secretary of state. He was asked by a reporter about the issue of Arizona in the talks with China: Who had raised it, we or the Chinese? Posner said, “We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session, and as a troubling trend in our society and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination, and that these are issues very much being debated in our own society.”
I think the Obama administration, much of it, is distilled in this one episode.
A bit of news from Tajikistan: A statue of Lenin in the city of Khujand is being moved from a prominent place to a less prominent place. Khujand used to be called Leninabad, by the way. To read an Associated Press report from last week, go here.
The report quotes the leader of the Tajikistani Communist party, who is none too pleased: “Nobody can rewrite the history. More than half the world’s population supports the ideas of Lenin and understands that socialism and equality are what we need, not democracy, which creates a fake sense of equality.”
Is he right? Does more than half the world’s population support some kind of collectivism, whether the softer socialism or full-blown totalitarianism? I would hate to think he’s right. But I can’t say he isn’t.
People in the general National Review orbit always talk about how the idea of freedom can’t be killed. Which is true. I myself say it perpetually, in various ways. It’s also true, however, that the idea of collectivism can’t be killed. Which is vexing.