Pundits who thought that Barack Obama was the solution to all the world’s problems are jumping off the sinking ship. It’s been happening since the beginning of the Obama presidency, but now we have Maureen Dowd and Leon Wieseltier offering especially harsh condemnations of President Obama’s leadership, or lack of same.
To be clear, they may all have suddenly seen the light about Obama, but one suspects that they are motivated by a refusal to be associated with an obvious loser. I am confident that they will all line up like good little soldiers when Hillary announces her candidacy.
Harsh is the word that describes Maureen Dowd’s comment on Obama:
It doesn’t feel like leadership. It doesn’t feel like you’re in command of your world.
How can we accept these reduced expectations and truculent passivity from the man who offered himself up as the moral beacon of the world, even before he was elected?
Were it not for the fact that more sober and rational minds have been saying this for years now, this would be news. As such, it reflects more on Dowd than on anyone else.
Everyone should have seen that Obama was not sufficiently experienced to conduct the American presidency. Everyone should have known that it would take more than speechifying to run the country, to say nothing of leading the world.
Again, Dowd is late to the party:
Once you liked to have the stage to yourself, Mr. President, to have the aura of the lone man in the arena, not sharing the spotlight with others.
But now when captured alone in a picture, you seem disconnected and adrift.
What happened to crushing it and swinging for the fences? Where have you gone, Babe Ruth?
Of course, Barack Obama was never Babe Ruth. He was never even a major leaguer. Only the Maureen Dowds of this world imagined that he was. They need to offer an apology and to explain how they mistook their fantasy for reality.
However bad Dowd’s dismissal is, it pales in comparison to Leon Wieseltier’s commentary in The New Republic:
The tiresome futurism of Obama, his dogmatic views about what this ritualistically ballyhooed century will be like and what it will not be like, are only a part of what lowers his vision. The bigger problem is that the president feels inconvenienced by history. It refuses to follow his program for it. It regularly exasperates him and regularly disappoints him. It flows when he wants it to ebb and it ebbs when he wants it flow. Like Mr. Incredible, the president is flummoxed that the world won’t stay saved, or agree to be saved at all. After all, he came to save it. And so the world has only itself to blame if Obama is sick of it and going home.
Part of the problem is that Obama had never played on the world stage. Another part of the problem is that he has never believed in American leadership. Another part of the problem is that the American people, influenced by the rantings of the mainstream media, no longer believes that America should be leading the world.
Having been outplayed by Vladimir Putin on the world’s chessboard, Obama has concluded that it is best not to engage with his Russian counterpart.
And yet, when you are president of the United States, picking up your toys and going home to sulk has consequences:
Ignoring the master [Putin], of course, has the consequence of ignoring the master’s victims: the Obama administration abandons to their fates one people after another, who pay the price for the president’s impatience with large historical struggles. The Ukrainians, the Syrians, the Iranians, the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Egyptians, the Saudis, the Moldovans, the Poles, the Czechs, the Japanese, the Taiwanese, the Baltic populations: they are all living with the jitters, and some of them on the cusp of despair, because the United States seems no longer reliable in emergencies, which it prefers to meet with meals ready to eat. No wonder that so much of our diplomacy consists in tendering reassurances. The United States now responds to oppressed and threatened peoples by making them more lonely and afraid—a sentimental objection, I know, and one that is unlikely to trouble Henry Kissinger’s epigone in the White House.
Of course, a man who suffers from Obama’s inexperience can only refer to his ideologically-defined fictions about the way the world works. It was inevitable that he would be mugged by reality.
There was no reason to expect that the Ayatollah Khamenei would take Obama’s “extended hand,” but every reason to expect that he would crack down barbarically on stirrings of democracy in his society. There was no reason to expect that Assad would go because he “must go,” but every reason to expect him to savage his country and thereby create an ethnic-religious war and a headquarters for jihadist anti-Western terrorists. There was no reason to expect Putin to surrender his profound historical bitterness at the reduced post-Soviet realities of Russia and leave its “near abroad” alone. There was no reason to expect that the Taliban in Afghanistan would behave as anything but a murderous theocratic conspiracy aspiring to a return to power.
Obama rode to the presidency on an anti-war platform. He did not understand that the media was using the pacifist message to cudgel the Bush administration. Schooled by Jeremiah Wright, Obama believed, in the depths of his soul, that America was more the problem than the solution.
In Wieseltier’s words:
It turns out that Obama’s Iraq-based view of America’s role in the world, according to which American preeminence is bad for the world and bad for America, is not shared by societies and movements in many regions.
There are many places in the world where we are despised not for taking action but for not taking action. Our allies do not trust us. Our enemies do not fear us. What if American preeminence is good for the world and good for America? Let’s talk about that.