Fresh off twice describing Americans as “lazy” in a speech in Laos, today President Obama made his final appearance before the United Nations as president, laying out all the ways that America’s political system lets him down:
Yes, in America, there is too much money in politics; too much entrenched partisanship; too little participation by citizens, in part because of a patchwork of laws that makes it harder to vote. In Europe, a well-intentioned Brussels often became too isolated from the normal push and pull of national politics. Too often, in capitals, decision-makers have forgotten that democracy needs to be driven by civic engagement from the bottom up, not governance by experts from the top down. And so these are real problems, and as leaders of democratic governments make the case for democracy abroad, we better strive harder to set a better example at home.
Yes, we know, America is flawed. But could our own president go out and give a speech that didn’t discuss our national flaws for once? Is it too much to ask?
Obama has been going around the world with humility and blunt honesty, even harsh criticism, of his own country for nearly eight years now. Has it diffused anti-Americanism? Has it placated those who hate the United States? Has it denied oxygen to vehement anti-American jihadism? Has all of this self-flagellation really helped us? Or have America’s critics mostly just turned around and said, “See, even Barack Obama admits…”
Yes, we know, Mr. President. We stink. We’ve made lots of mistakes. Everything was terrible until you arrived. “In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world.” “I know that promises of partnership have gone unfulfilled in the past, and that trust has to be earned over time.” “All too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight.” “Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors.” Chrisians need to get off their high horse because of the Crusades. Your wife wasn’t proud of this country in her adult life until 2008. On and on and on…
It’s pretty insufferable for the guy who raised a billion dollars for his reelection campaign to lament “too much money in politics,” and for President “I won” to lament the entrenched partisanship. In this speech, Obama denounced, “religious fundamentalism; the politics of ethnicity, or tribe, or sect; aggressive nationalism; a crude populism — sometimes from the far left, but more often from the far right,” which was widely interpreted as a slam of Donald Trump.
So Obama takes a shot at the opposition party and follows it up by lamenting “entrenched partisanship.”