Obama has been contradictory, erratic, and late in almost every breaking development from the Middle East the last 30 days. Only recently has he started to repeat principled support for consensual government, though with almost none of his usual hope-and-change zeal. One might have hoped to see President Obama voice anger with Qaddafi — not to mention offer massive humanitarian aid to Libyans and express willingness to coordinate no-fly zones — with the same passion that Senator Obama went after renditions, tribunals, Guantanamo, and the Iraq war — or the supposedly belated federal response to Katrina.
Just a year and a half ago, at a time of grassroots protests in the streets of Tehran, he gave the world a sermon about not meddling in the internal affairs of a theocratic, anti-American, and savage Iran — and juxtaposed it with an apology for supposed U.S.-inspired intervention a half-century earlier.
Two weeks ago, his team supported Mubarak, derided Mubarak, called for him to leave — yesterday, now, tomorrow, in the fall — and claimed the Muslim Brotherhood was secular and now non-violent, and had a role but needed to be watch.
Top that off with our enfeebled response to the pathological Qaddafi, and one again gets the impression that an Ahmadinejad, Assad, or Qaddafi does not pose the same threat to regional stability, or oppress his people to the same degree, as a Mubarak, a Ben Ali, or a Jordanian monarch.
Gas is reaching $4 a gallon. Meanwhile, the Obama administration refuses to reconsider ANWR, spars with Canadians over increased imports from Alberta, has made millions of acres of federal lands exempt from oil exploration, and has placed a seven-year moratorium on new drilling in many offshore areas (they are counting on the authoritarian feudal monarchy in Saudi Arabia to pump more oil). This depressing landscape is 1979 all over again.
All this voting “present” is going to catch up with us — or rather already has.