Category Archives: Obama
In Denver 2008 President Obama entered national life as a messiah. He eschewed the manger for a stage set with faux Greek columns in front of 84,000 believers. Tuesday he ascended into heaven from Chicago with a farewell speech before 25,000 disciples.
Here’s what some of the true believers had to say:
Charles M. Blow of the NYT found respite from “the dark clouds of the incoming administration” in a column titled Ode to Obama :
But there was a calm in the midst of the storm, a rock of familiarity and stability and strength: On Tuesday night, President Obama delivered his farewell address in his adopted hometown, Chicago, as a forlorn crowd looked on, realizing the magnitude of the moment, realizing the profundity of its loss.
As the old saying goes: You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
The Washington Post’s E. J. Dionne called it “a moving farewell compared to Trumps terrifying hello”:
So although it was not his intention, Trump brought home the importance of the central forward-looking theme of President Obama’s moving farewell address in Chicago on Tuesday night. At heart, Obama’s speech was a warning and a plea: an alert about the dangers our democracy confronts and a call for Americans to be active and vigilant in protecting our liberties.
“Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift,” Obama declared in what may prove to be its most important passage. “But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge.
“Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms, whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law, that’s up to us,” he continued. “America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.”
And now for the apostates:
The whole speech seemed written to be the final chapter of the “Collected Speeches of Barack Obama,” which is why he concluded by referencing his 2008 “Yes We Can” speech.
No wonder the substance of Obama’s farewell was a high-flown rehash of his greatest hits. He spoke again of Congress being “dysfunctional” in the abstract, but what he surely meant is that Congress isn’t working properly when it declines to do what he wants it to do. Hence the insinuation that disagreement with his views on climate change is contrary to the “spirit” of America and the Enlightenment. He called for a “new social compact” that was indistinguishable from his legislative agenda and insisted that the essence of democracy is the commitment “that we rise or fall as one.”
That is not the spirit of democracy at all; it’s the spirit of the “tribalism” and “nationalism” he’s come to disparage. But that has always been the spirit of Obamaism. When people agree with him, that’s democracy working. When democracy rejects his counsel, that’s the bitter Bible-clingers rejecting the better angel of his nature.
And yet it turns out that such auspicious beginnings are not at all predictive. We could see it this same week. On Tuesday night, there stood Obama giving a farewell address that only underscored the failure of a presidency so bathed in optimism at its start. The final speech, amazingly, could have been given, nearly unedited, in 2008. Why it even ended with “yes we can.”
The WSJ just wonders how we can miss a president who won’t go away.
“My fellow Americans,” he said as he finally wrapped up his lengthy self-eulogy, “it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop. In fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days.”
When President Obama met with party leaders in 2009 Eric Cantor pitched some ideas for the stimulus bill. The president responded, “Elections have consequences and, at the end of the day, I won.” The 800 billion dollar stimulus went on to pass with three Republican votes. And ObamaCare rammed its way through Congress without any Republican support. At the time Democrats controlled the White House, Senate, and House.
The program has never been popular with voters. A new Rasmussen survey finds that only 12% of voters want to keep it as it is. However 56% want the law improved piece by piece. Only 30% want to see the program immediately brought to room temperature.
The transition hasn’t been all that peaceful according to Piers Morgan. Instead Obama pitched a presidential “temper tantrum”. Morgan says, Barack “hates Donald and everything he stands for.”:
Since the election, as the New York Times reported, he’s banned oil drilling off the Atlantic coast, named over 100 people to a range of senior government jobs, created new environmental monuments, commuted the sentences of 232 inmates and pardoned 78 others, protected funding for Planned Parenthood clinics, ordered the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay and blocked new Israeli settlements.
In 2012 President Obama said, “We have been very clear to the Assad regime — but also to other players on the ground — that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”
Here’s an Arms Control Association timeline of chemical weapons “moving around or being utilized” in Syria.
The agreement seems to remove the prospect of any strike against Syria following the chemical attacks in Damascus on 21 August which killed up to 1,300 people.
Putin later entered the war with airstrikes in support of Bashar al Assad. That turned the tide in his favor and unleashed a greater flood of refugees and dead.
With the destruction of Aleppo in December Charles Krauthammer wrote that the Obama administration could offer only bitter speechmaking at the UN:
In the end, the world’s greatest power was reduced to bitter speeches at the U.N. “Are you truly incapable of shame?” thundered U.S. ambassador Samantha Power at the butchers of Aleppo. As if we don’t know the answer.
Red Line Threat
Last week the administration drew a new red line through the West Bank and West Jerusalem for building settlements.
The UN likes to pick on Israel. But the U.S. usually stands up for its ally by vetoing hostile Security Council resolutions. Last week was different. UN ambassador Samantha Powers ole’d through a resolution condemning Israel for building settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
Abstention on the UN vote reflected our values – according to John Kerry.
However, the resolution didn’t reflect the values of Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz. He does not believe Barack has your back:
“It goes right to the heart of Jewish Jerusalem. It says Jews can’t pray at the holiest site in Judaism, they can’t attend Hebrew University,” Dershowitz said, adding that Obama had Israel’s back, but “as a target.”
It won’t be easy for Trump to roll back a Security Council resolution because Russia and China hold veto power. But one thing The Donald could do is cut the United States $3 billion contribution to the UN. That amounts to 20% of all UN funding.
Speaking of having Israel’s back, Bret Stephens says Obama has a habit of helping enemies and back stabbing friends.
Barack Has Your Back
Stanford Professor Victor Davis Hanson thinks Obama has sought to rewrite the traditional approaches to foreign policy.
To paraphrase the Sophoclean code, it is wise to help your friends and hurt your enemies…
Turning the other cheek is the proper New Testament aspiration for individuals to live by, but the Sermon on the Mount is deadly for nations, at least until the nature of man changes…
Diplomacy is like the tax code: Subsidize hostility and you get more hostile actors; tax friendship and you get fewer friends.
Bibi, on the other hand, won’t be turning the other cheek. Or his back.