The Corner

Rules of Usage

President Obama reminded his European audience that just because he’s not Bush, of non-traditional ancestry, and named “Barack Hussein Obama,” the war on terror won’t just go away (you think?).

All of which brings up interesting rules of usage with the name “Hussein”:

1) It is forbidden at home; any American who employs the tripartite presidential name does so only to fan religious, racial, or ethnic prejudice.

2) It is encouraged abroad both in Europe and the Middle East (cf. the al-Arabiya interview) both to establish our president’s multicultural fides and sensitivity to Muslims, and to distance himself from our past illiberal foreign policy and attitudes.

3) Rule #2 only applies to the president himself. Even liberal journalists abroad are not allowed to say “Hussein” even in the most progressive of contexts.

In defense of President Obama, he is only doing what he was supposed to do; he was elected in part because of the collective ‘tingle’ he provided to millions of Americans who desperately wished to be liked again in the manner that is happening now in Europe (even if superficially and through granting every wish Europe can conjure up), and wanted to be relieved at relatively inexpensive cost of the burden of guilt. To the extent that Obama does not remind us of his non-traditional, anti-Bush, multicultural identity, he is not fulfilling his campaign pact.


Mark Steyn wondered why the silence about the Korean rocket. Other than a canny Clintonian sense that weekend news is dead news, I think it may be because we know the presidential response: Just as spending and borrowing became fiscal responsibility, “stimulus,” and halving the new deficit; just as serially trashing Bush became “preferring to look forward rather than backward,” so too watching the Koreans showcase their new intercontinental ballistic missile to global nuclear customers becomes a rhetorical occasion to promise a new non-nuclear world.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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