September 1, 2014 by Daniel Greenfield
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.
It was always obvious what Obama’s supporters wanted. They weren’t willing to settle for a Hillary, just another politician who would punch the clock, deliver tepid speeches and push their leftist agenda.
They wanted someone larger than life. A head made for Mount Rushmore and a body that would be cast in statues across the country. Speeches meant to be studied in classrooms for the next hundred years.
They compared him to JFK and Reagan. He was treated as the icon that his backers wanted him to be. His election was supposed to be a watershed moment in American history.
Instead it ends in miserable failure.
At home, Obama is caught in a desperate tug of war with Republicans. He won the budget battle by sending park rangers to shut down national monuments. His last ditch gamble for holding on to the Senate is using racial tensions in Ferguson to promote black voter turnout.
And if he wins, all he’ll have is what he has now.
This is how shoddy and tawdry the reality of Hope and Change has become. Trapped in a corner, Obama is dragging out the dirtiest Chicago politics. He’s trying to hold off the inevitable by using the same types of tactics that the crooked mayor of his hometown would.
There’s no inspiration here. No words that will resound across time. Just dirty rats on a sinking ship.
Blame Congress has become the new Blame Bush. ObamaCare is a slow motion disaster that requires constant course corrections to keep it from coming apart. It’s not the new Social Security or Medicare. It’s the new HMO; a clumsy construction that most Americans are unhappy with.
Obama’s only power comes from his abuse of his authority, but what one man does, another man can undo. Instead of creating a lasting legislative legacy, Obama’s executive orders and legislation by administration are a house of cards that his successor can topple with the same pen and phone.
They seem intimidating in the way that the actions of tyrants are, but tyranny can be undone with tyranny. What Obama failed to do was build a consensus. He didn’t change the course of American history. He didn’t win the hearts and minds of Americans. Now he’s reduced to vandalizing America.
Obama said that Putin’s actions in Ukraine weren’t a sign of strength, but a sign of weakness. There is some truth to that. Putin’s economic policies have failed and he was unpopular at home. But the Obama tyrannical reign of phone and pen also isn’t a sign of strength. It’s a sign of weakness.
Like Putin, Obama has run out of options.
Unpopular with voters, shunned by his own party in battleground states, he rules by executive order and parties with influential executives while ignoring his responsibilities.
That’s not Reagan. It’s not JFK. It’s not even LBJ.
Stumbling to the microphone in a tan suit, he admits that he has no strategy for ISIS. Why should he? A few months ago he was calling a force that controls much of Iraq and Syria a junior varsity team while claiming credit for defeating Al Qaeda. Now his spokesman insists that the US is not at war with ISIS.
What Obama says has no relationship to reality. It’s always been that way. It’s only becoming obvious to those talking heads inside his media bubble now.
Obama’s foreign policy consisted of a flowchart of how things were supposed to work. There was an arrow from “Outreach” to “Reconciliation” to “New Middle East”. Instead Iraq is on fire. Libya is on fire. Syria is on fire. Everyone else is either mocking him or begging for his help without seriously expecting him to do anything useful.
And the flowchart doesn’t mention any of it.
ISIS was supposed to be a JV team. Iraqis are supposed to reconcile. ISIS isn’t supposed to be at war with the United States. Like most ideologues, Obama confuses what his reading of the inevitable forces of history says should happen with what is actually happening. Political Islam was supposed to stabilize the Middle East. Instead the future will be defined by a clash between national armies and Islamist militias.
Removing US troops from Iraq was supposed to fix the problem. The best anti-colonialist scholarship said it would. Instead combined with the Arab Spring, it let Al Qaeda take over much of the country.
But what else was an ideological fanatic big on theory and short on life experience going to do?
Obama is Fareed Zakaria. He’s Thomas Friedman. He’s Paul Krugman. He read all the books and he talks a good game so that it’s easy to miss the fact that his ideas don’t have much to do with real life.
Friedman babbling about the flattening world, Krugman pretending that money is infinite and Zakaria jumping from one ridiculous globalist idea to another sound good in a lecture hall or a column.
But only an idiot would actually listen to them.
Obama’s speeches sounded good, but only idiots would elect a man with no life experience, no executive experience and no meaningful experience of any kind for speaking well, instead of doing well.
Of course Obama doesn’t have a strategy for ISIS. Why would he?
ISIS wasn’t supposed to happen. His schedule, in between golfing and fundraising, had amnesty and Global Warming unilateral orders penciled in. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine also wasn’t on the schedule. Killing missile defense and being incredibly flexible were supposed to fix that.
As a last resort, sanctions, the universal failure of global diplomacy, were supposed to keep this from happening. But like everything else that Obama tried, they didn’t work.
Obama doesn’t live in the world of “What is” but the world of “What should be”. Inspiration does come from the world of “What should be”, but when it isn’t grounded in the world of “What is” then it manifests as insanity or leads to miserable failures.
The difference between the brilliant architect and the lunatic on the street corner is that while both of them know “What should be”, only one of them knows “What is”.
Obama’s inspiration came from “What should be”. He never did understand “What is”. His followers thought and think that “What is” can be waved away, ignored or beaten down as a last resort. That is what he is doing now with his executive orders and his unilateral rule. He is trying to salvage his miserable failure as a leader by forcing his way on the whole country.
It hasn’t made him popular. It hasn’t made his way into the American Way. It has isolated him. The American people have rejected him in poll after poll. Now the media is slowly accepting their verdict.
And no, he doesn’t have a strategy for that.