Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Still Madly in Love with Obama

If true love is blind, then the deepest and most passionate love is not only blind: it is also deaf and dumb.

How else can we describe Paul Krugman, Lexington and the others who are rallying to defend Barack Obama in his time of trouble?

Begin with Krugman.

Don’t worry, Krugman exhorts the faithful, Barack Obama has been a transformative president. His successes far outweigh the minor difficulties with the VA, the IRS, Bowe Bergdahl and foreign policy.

Krugman is thrilled that Obama has reformed the health care system; Obamacare is a rousing success. And Obama has taken decisive steps to save the planet by issuing mountains of regulations to control climate change.

In other terms, Krugman is thrilled to see Obama’s version of socialism lite play havoc with the private markets. His passion is such that he cares not at all for the way the ultimate government-controlled health care delivery system, the VA, has been run. And he does not mention that premiums are spiking across the country… surely a drag on the economy and on job creation.

In Krugman’s view:

You should judge leaders by their achievements, not their press, and in terms of policy substance Mr. Obama is having a seriously good year. In fact, there’s a very good chance that 2014 will go down in the record books as one of those years when America took a major turn in the right direction.

Anyone who is not blind, deaf and dumb will notice that Krugman contrasts achievements with press, not successes with failures. For Krugman, Obama never fails.

As for saving the planet, the largest amount of pollution comes, not from the United States, but from China. About that, Obama can do nothing.

Let’s note that the Prime Ministers of both Australia and Canada decided to go slowly on climate change in order not to damage their economies.

We should not ignore the fact that some of the most important climate scientists, led by MIT emeritus professor Richard Lindzen, are highly skeptical of the supposedly “settled science” of climate change.

Krugman focuses on America. If you were worrying about the state of things in the rest of the world, you can turn to the Lexington column in The Economist and Andrew Sullivan’s blog to learn that Obama’s fecklessness is really a sign of cool-headed reason.

Sullivan even manages to compare Obama to Dwight Eisenhower and George H. W. Bush.

It’s astonishing, how blind, deaf and dumb Obama’s lovers can be. Eisenhower commanded a level of respect that no other recent president has. When he did not intervene in the French war in Indochina, no one imagined that he was weak and ineffectual.

When George H. W. Bush managed the collapse of the Soviet Union, events transpired largely without incident. That, after all, is the sign of leadership.

Sullivan calls him “no drama Obama” but you have to be blind, deaf and dumb to imagine that there is no drama in the world today.

The Lexington column describes Obama in these terms:

The president is an intelligent, rational and rigorous observer of global horrors. And he is often eloquent in his assessment of why it is folly to think such problems can be easily or reliably solved by military means alone. Asked about the sight of Iraqi army units abandoning their posts in the face of smaller enemy forces, Mr Obama made a good point. If Iraqi troops were not "willing to stand and fight" against the militant attackers, that points to a "problem in terms of morale" and commitment that reflects political divisions in the country. He expressed fears of worsening violence should Sunni insurgents overrun Shi’ite sacred sites in the country.

His observations were sound. And here is the frustrating thing about reporting on this president’s worldview. In and of itself, his cool, cerebral analysis is often more rational and less hypocritical than the criticism raining down on him from his political opponents.

It’s nice to know that President Obama is observing global horrors. It would be nicer if he could exercise some leadership, to prevent there from being further horrors.

Is Obama really being “more rational and less hypocritical” than his opponents? It think it fair to say that Republican efforts to offer policy solutions have largely come up short. It’s what happens when you make John McCain your foreign policy guru.

But, Lexington does not distinguish between leaders who really were in charge, like Eisenhower and G. H. W. Bush, where no one questioned whether or not they were in charge and a president who acts like an outside observer, whose attitude feels more like Alfred E. Newman: What me worry?

If no one thinks you have a handle on the situation, if no one thinks you are in charge, you aren’t in charge. It’s not that difficult to understand.

Saying that Obama is being rational is pure rationalization.

Krugman understands that Obama does not really care about foreign policy, but wants his transformative legacy to be about health insurance reform and climate change regulation. (You will note that Krugman does not list income redistribution as one of Obama’s great successes.)

One is forced to conclude that Obama has been willing to sacrifice everything in the name of what he considers to be social justice.

Many astute observers have questioned the optics of Obama’s most recent foray into fundraising and golf. Andrew Sullivan's faith and love are sufficiently powerful to rationalize anything:

Which merely goes to show there is only one grown-up in Washington these days, and we’re lucky he is in the White House. I was particularly impressed with the president’s insistence on continuing his California fundraising trip. What he’s doing by this business-as-usual approach is to try and defuse the Beltway’s cable-news-driven hysteria of the minute – usually larded up with insane levels of parochialism and partisanship – so that a saner foreign policy can be realized. 

Large swaths of Iraq have fallen into the hands of terrorists. The nation of Iraq does not really exist anymore. For Sullivan it’s all cable-news-driven hysteria.

If we turn to Bret Stephens we see what Sullivan does not want to see, a world without any leadership at all:

Was it only 10 months ago that President Obama capitulated on Syria? And eight months ago that we learned he had no idea the U.S. eavesdropped on Angela Merkel ? And seven months ago that his administration struck its disastrous interim nuclear deal with Tehran? And four months ago that Chuck Hagel announced that the United States Army would be cut to numbers not seen since the 1930s? And three months ago that Russia seized Crimea? And two months ago that John Kerry's Israeli-Palestinian peace effort sputtered into the void? And last month that Mr. Obama announced a timetable for total withdrawal from Afghanistan—a strategy whose predictable effects can now be seen in Iraq?

Even the Bergdahl deal of yesterweek is starting to feel like ancient history. Like geese, Americans are being forced to swallow foreign-policy fiascoes at a rate faster than we can possibly chew, much less digest.

And now, another cool-headed approach to recent events… in this case events in the Ukraine that no one is covering:

On Thursday, Russian tanks rolled across the border into eastern Ukraine. On Saturday, Russian separatists downed a Ukrainian transport jet, murdering 49 people. On Monday, Moscow stopped delivering gas to Kiev. All this is part of the Kremlin's ongoing stealth invasion and subjugation of its neighbor. And all of this barely made the news. John Kerry phoned Moscow to express his "strong concern." Concern, mind you, not condemnation.

It’s nice to see Obama as a rational adult, but he is still conducting policy:

Here, then, is the cravenness that now passes for cleverness in this administration: Make friends with a terrorist regime to deal with a terrorist organization. Deliver Iraq's Arab Shiites into the hands of their Persian coreligionists, who will waste no time turning southern Iraq into a satrapy modeled on present-day Lebanon.

Deal brusquely with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki —who, for all his manifest shortcomings as a leader nonetheless wishes to be our ally—and obsequiously with an Iranian regime that spent the better part of the last decade killing American soldiers. Further alienate panicky allies in Riyadh and Jerusalem for the sake of ingratiating ourselves with the mullahs.

For now the chaos in the Middle East has only increased the price of oil to around $106.00 a barrel. If things get worse and the price spikes up toward $150.00 dreams of social justice will be crashing around our “cool” president.

Obama might be cool-headed and rational, but his defenders are driven by their passions.


Soviet of Washington said...

All we're missing is "some damn fool thing in the Balkans." Or does Ukraine count for that.

Ares Olympus said...

Apparently if you're rooting for the unlikely success of the United States during the period of time known as "Obama's presidency" you're madly in love.

re: "For now the chaos in the Middle East has only increased the price of oil to around $106.00 a barrel. If things get worse and the price spikes up toward $150.00 dreams of social justice will be crashing around our “cool” president."

Indeed, what if oil prices rise to $150/bbl? The last time we had this happen we considered $40/bbl as "normal" while now $100/bbl is clearly "normal", so we're looking at a 50% rise event rather than a 180% rise event.

President Bush said the war in Iraq wasn't about oil, but clearly it is about oil, and power, and Bush was lying to himself and the American people.

If we don't know how to run an economy on $150/bbl, we're clearly not the most powerful nation on earth, but instead the wimpiest, looking for the slightest excuse to whine about how hard life is in a global economy where we buy things from people willing to be paid $1/day while we need $60/day to be considered the poorest of the poor.

If we have to spend $1 trillion dollar per year to keep peace on earth, we're going to go broke, and it won't be the world's fault.

Keep the cool head Mr. President, there's fools out there who will say anything to weaken the United States, so don't listen to them.

Anonymous said...

"Which merely goes to show there is only one grown-up in Washington these days, and we’re lucky he is in the White House"

Do people actually read what Andrew Sullivan writes?



Lastango said...

At the NYT, the BIG LIE is always in fashion.

Sam L. said...

It appears Mr Olympus hath the Kool-Aid drunk from the factory.

"Obama might be cool-headed and rational, ..." Stuart's photo is next to "too kind" in the dictionary.

Anonymous said...

Of course the Iraq War was about oil, whether implicitly or explicitly. People who say "No war for oil!" have no idea what they're talking about. Our economy runs on oil. Fact, not fiction. These are the same people who say no drilling in ANWR because it is a wilderness so beautiful and pristine that they'll never go to it. And we can't drill off the coast of Florida, or California, and, and, and. It's insane. Saying you won't fight a war for resources like oil is like saying you won't fight a war for water.

The United States has been sufficiently weakened on the global stage by Obama. Enough.