The Corner

Obamisms

Barack Obama should review the basics of American history and the fundamentals of diplomacy. In comparing various enemies, one is by needs more willing to talk to hostile nuclear super-powers (as Nixon, and Reagan did with China and the Soviet Union) that have the ability to destroy us than to talk to a hostile power like Iran. In the former case, we have few options, in the latter plenty. For the analogy to be valid, did Nixon and Reagan have summits with Castro as they did with Mao or Gorbachev—and if not, why not? And is not Obama’s speak-anytime-anywhere-to-anyone -policy at odds with many of our allies in the EU who haven’t gone that far with an Iran or Venezuela?

And when Obama says, “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” he almost seems to suggest a finite worldview, in which someone’s bounty by needs must come at someone else’s expense. So our bountiful food means others go without?

In fact, we had nothing to do with, say, a Zimbabwe going from a successful exporter of food to a net importer, much less with the mass collectivization programs in Asia, Africa, and South America that depressed food production for most of the 1950s-1990s. U.S. technology, open markets, and capitalist practices taught the world that they were quite able to “eat as much as [they] want”–should they use their resources wisely.

As far as SUVs, as we transition to next-generation fuels and energy, should the U.S. develop more efficient models AND pursue nuclear power and our massive coal deposits to generate electricity in lieu of precious natural gas, develop shale and tar sands, drill off our coasts and in Alaska, lift tariffs on imported ethanol, then, yes, there is no reason why we can’t drive, eat, cool, and heat our homes as we do currently — and as most of our politicians (such as Obama, Al Gore, John Kerry, John Edwards) and the Hollywood elite do currently.

He needs to update his doom and gloom on Iraq, in which, as the Mosul operation suggests, the final missing pieces — the Shiite-dominated constitutional government turning on Iranian-back Shiite militias, as Sunnis rejoin government and continue to rout al-Qaeda — are falling into place. Iraqis are taking more and more responsibility for their future, violence is down, our own recruitments are up, our military is beginning to promote the mavericks, and we are close to having done the impossible of securing a constitutional state in a primordial region. All that for now is the best shot we have in tempering Iran’s agenda, as a democratic Iraq can become as subversive to theocratic Iran as its militias are to Iraq.

Finally, re: Michelle. To go after a Pat Nixon or a George McGovern’s wife, or any traditional First Lady or candidate’s spouse is despicable. BUT many women in such a limelight — Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton, Teresa Kerry, and, yes, Michelle Obama — freely chose to use the exposure to enter the political fray and advance a political agenda, often in controversial fashion. Is Bill Clinton exempt from criticism as a candidate’s spouse as he barnstorms and sounds off?

What is “low class” (given West Virginia and Kentucky “class” is not a pejorative that Obama should employ at any cost) is not criticizing Michelle Obama’s choice to characterize her country as mean and not worthy of pride, but rather criticizing those who are terribly disturbed by such a public figure’s political commentary. Well apart the wisdom of running ads against Michelle (not wise I think), we all know the rules: either follow the traditional role of First Lady and enjoy the immunity that such abdication from controversial politics conveys, or roll the dice, become a political figure in one’s own right, and enjoy all the greater attention and acclaim — as well as the inevitable hard knocks that accompany political controversy.

Her call, not the country’s — and yet another indication of the Obama rules that serially establish two sets of quite different standards for the candidates.

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