Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: History, Politics, WORLD POLITICS — Rick Moran @ 6:40 am

Here we are in April with Opening Day upon us (for the uninitiated, this used to be a holy day of obligation for followers of what used to be called our National Pastime) and Barack Obama has been president for 10 weeks. It has been an eventful epoch in American history with the president taking unprecedented steps to head off a depression, save our financial system, and remake America into a liberal paradise.

He has made plenty of errors, befitting his rookie status in the major leagues of public policy and national politics. So far, none of these miscues have cost us the game, as it were. (Forgive the baseball analogies but I am rounding into shape for the coming season.) The national government is in a rebuilding mode as veteran players and old policies are either traded away or unceremoniously let go while we give the youngsters a chance to prove themselves.

Some of these policies may indeed pan out and make the cut. The president’s new Af-Pak strategy has its drawbacks but, I believe, holds real promise for progress. And if Europe wants to embrace our new president and if that leads to better cooperation, I applaud it. We need Europe and NATO more now that the president is going to unilaterally and drastically reduce defense spending. The outline of an agreement with Russia on further reducing nukes appears to be pragmatic and not based on looking into Putin’s “soul” to discern what kind of a partner he might be. Trouble is brewing in Asia but that would have happened if John McCain had become president instead of Obama. The North Korean missile launch has scrambled our alliances with Japan and South Korea while making even the Chinese a little antsy. This presents an opportunity rather than a set back - as long as the Administration sees it that way and not as another excuse to placate Kim Il Jung by continuiing talks as if nothing has happened.

Domestically, the recession seems to be bottoming out (not surprisingly, no thanks to the Stimulus Bill) and Washington and the financial community appear to be coming to grips with the banking crisis. Whether the Geithner plan will work is a big unknown but just addressing the problem is a good first step. Other policy initiatives from stem cells to Guantanamo are matters of extreme disagreement with the opposition. Not that it matters. The voting public rejected the Republicans and conservatives and elected an almost supermajority of Democrats. They are in the drivers seat and for the first time since 1964, one party is going to get a chance to implement its agenda without needing to bother with what the political opposition has to say about it. In 1980 and 1994, the GOP had to deal with either a large, powerful, entrenched opposition or a president of the other party. Ronald Reagan worked some miracles to get most of his tax and spending policies made into law while the 1994 Republican takeover in the House saw many agenda items adopted, others not. Today’s political landscape is a Democratic one. All the Republicans can do is howl.

But it is Obama’s current foreign trip that is revealing of what kind of person we have elected as president. No one on the right should be surprised if Obama behaves like a liberal. He made no secret of his plan to exchange the “unilateralism” of the Bush Administration that always put American interests first with the unilateralism of the left that grants concessions without reciprocity (Iran) while subsuming American interests in the name of “cooperation” and “unity.”

Obama is making all the right noises and taken the right attitude - if one supports a liberal foreign policy. He has been apologetic, humble, cognizant of what the Europeans consider our “past mistakes,” solicitous of the sensibilities of our allies who, after all, think they should be running the world and not us (despite making a royal botch of things for 500 years), and respectful of leaders who have shone little but disdain for the US.

He has had a few gaffes but this is to be expected for his first at bat on his first road trip. What I find curious is the lack of coverage of many of these faux pas and liberal websites dismissing them as “distractions” or with the euphemistic “Bush did it too, only worse” meme. What’s interesting is that when Bush was president, they didn’t believe these gaffes to be a distraction but rather huge international incidents. One would have thought the world ended when Bush got too familiar with German Chancellor Merkel or he was overheard saying “sh*t” at a state dinner.

Somehow, now that Obama is president, these kinds of miscues that at one time were incidents that threatened the foundations of international order and indicative of the relative competence and smarts of President Bush have suddenly become “distractions.”

Glad we got that cleared up.

Beyond that, it was nice to see an American president lecture Europe about the “casual” anti-Americanism that occassionally morphs into a kind of nutty, conspiratorial idiocy and contributes to attitudes like believing America is a bigger threat to their country than Iran. That kind of stupidity can only be explained by an unreasoning, illogical, hatred of America. And for Obama - as popular as he is with the Euro-young - to lay it out in such stark terms was refreshing indeed.

Did he have to preface that lecture in Strasborg by referring to the US as “arrogant?” I note the overreaction to this statement on the right and while I understand the emotional response, Obama was doing more than simply playing to his audience as the Dixie Chicks and other high profile Americans have done while overseas. The president saw himself in the role of repairman in Europe. The alliance has been strained over our invasion and occupation of Iraq and the news - both true and false - about our government’s support for torture. Before you can fix anything, you must first identify what is wrong. This is what Obama was attempting to do when he said that past American policy had “shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” All of those perjoratives have nothing to do with “America” and everything to do with “Bush.” Nations aren’t arrogant. National leaders are. Nor are nations “dismissive and derisive.”

(Tis a pity our president didn’t give any examples of our “dismissiveness” and “derisiveness.” I can’t recall a single incident the previous 8 years where the US government was “derisive” of anything said by anyone save perhaps the North Koreans and the Iranians. Was he apologizing to them? I hope not.)

I guess the words were meant to convey an attitude recognizing the fact that America isn’t perfect rather than apologizing for specific instances of American derisiveness. Obama as supplicant went over very well with those who want to see America brought down a peg or two. These people hold the same attitude toward America as those who reduced our former Ambassador to Great Britain Phillip Lader to tears on the BBC program Question Time a few days after 9/11 by applauding audience members who said the attack was our fault and mocking Lader when he tried to defend American policy. The myth of European solidarity with the US after 9/11 is a powerful one despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Oh sure, they were shocked and horrified by the nature of the attack and the loss of life. And they certainly felt a sympathy for the American people. But it is laughable to believe that on some level, they weren’t extremely pleased to see American power take a hit.

It worries me that Obama might believe in this legend and will seek to further subsume American interests in hopes that this mythical “solidarity” can be found again - a return to a time that never existed and a relationship that has been romanticized by the left. The fact is, Obama may be popular but America is not - not now and will not likely be in the future - unless Obama completely goes native and hands the keys to American foreign policy to the EU. This won’t happen which means European attitudes toward America will remain basically unchanged - as they have remained the same since the end of the cold war. The EU has been looking for a “counterweight” to American power for a long time and the thought that President Obama can do anything except improve our image and meliorate other atmospherics in our relationship is wishful thinking.

So Obama’s European test rates about a “B-” in my opinion. There is plenty of room for improvement but he accomplished much in the time he was there that I believe will end up being a net good for America. As a rule, I think it unimportant whether an American president is liked or disliked by the Europeans. But considerng the worldwide financial mess, the crumbling situation in Afghanistan, our continuing fight with Islamic extremists, and other issues of vital mutual concern with the EU, it certainly can’t hurt that Obama is well liked and apparently got off on the right foot with our allies and their citizens.


  1. Funny, I majored in German and was under the impression that was the language spoken in Austria.


    Thanks for clearing that up, President B-Hobie!

    Comment by Sirius — 4/6/2009 @ 7:25 am

  2. With Europe as with the economy Obama’s had to play the cards dealt to the previous president.

    The two useful things we might have gotten — a larger stimulus and more help in Afghanistan — were probably never in the cards, especially the latter. It’s not a question of anti-Americanism so much as the essentially dependent and juvenile world view of most European governments and their voters. (I exempt the Brits and the Dutch.)

    It’s useful to draw some of the sting of anti-Americanism, but if what we’re hoping for is tangible help from Europeans on the war, I think we need to move on. We had some help early, the Iraq war killed that, but even at the best of times European military help is more trouble than it’s worth.

    Had we not managed to blow up the world economy Obama’s personal popularity might have translated into something more tangible, but Iraq followed by AIG (and given the political realities on the continent) made it pretty much an impossible mission.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 4/6/2009 @ 7:30 am

  3. Well his majesty would surely know the meaning of the word “arrogance” being possessed of it in spades! Coupled with immaturity and ignorance of history!

    Comment by Gayle Miller — 4/6/2009 @ 9:23 am

  4. Meh…

    Congratulation on your Bears getting Cutler. They’ll be serious contenders with him.

    Comment by lionheart — 4/6/2009 @ 11:55 am

  5. Jeepers, m. reynolds, everything isn’t America’s fault. How did Bush, aka America when it’s bad, crash the Irish real estate market? Seriously.

    And how is AIG America’s fault? AIG is all over the world. They deal with numerous country regulations, not just US regulations.

    In one of the Navy schools I went to I got a piece of advice that Obama might want to reflect on. The instructor said that when you go to a new command to replace somebody, even the most unlikable, dirt baggish person you are replacing will have allies. So don’t rip your predecessor or expect to find out who those allies are as you will no longer get support from them. Obama’s stupid Bush bashing has finished him with 1/4th of the country (for now, anyway). That 25% is a floor of hard core disapproval that I don’t think he’ll rise above, failing some big event. And it was completely unnecessary - he’s in his honeymoon period with a fawning press after all. We don’t need a King of the Kool Kids, we need a President.

    Comment by EBJ — 4/6/2009 @ 2:33 pm

  6. Regarding the military budget, many faults accrue to Mr Rumsfield but his belief that the military was still fighting the last war sparkled…

    Regarding Obama’s “bashing” of the Bush legacy, sweet loving Jesus, Bush (like Carter) had good intentions but managed our nation without thought.

    Perfection we can’t expect but taking a good rational shot would be nice :)

    Comment by Stunned — 4/6/2009 @ 2:48 pm

  7. EBJ:

    Citi, AIG, Lehman, Countrywide and Bear were all US corps, primarily under US regs.

    But the details in terms of who did what to the world economy is less interesting to diplomacy than the perception. The clear perception in Europe and in the world is that this was Anglo-American capitalism run amuck.

    As for the suggestion that Mr. Bush might have some friends in Europe: good one.

    The 25% were already done with Mr. Obama. It’s the same 25% that still approved of Mr. Bush until the end. If Obama healed lepers and raised the dead the 25% would still oppose him. In political terms the 25% is utterly irrelevant. The sum total of GOP, such as it is, is in the hands of Mr. Specter and the two women from Maine.

    Three moderate GOP senators are all the GOP has in play. As for conservatives? You’re not even in the game right now. And unlikely to get back in any time soon.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 4/6/2009 @ 3:53 pm

  8. Rick, you are a thoughtful person. I do not however, think the current president is as thoughtful about any issue(s) as you are.

    Obama is merely cursoring the list of liberal-sophomoric bromides that are coming off of the teleprompter.

    Comment by P. Aaron — 4/6/2009 @ 7:56 pm

  9. “As for conservatives? You’re not even in the game right now. And unlikely to get back in any time soon.”

    November 2010 is 20 months away - and counting! Soon enough for you?

    Comment by SShiell — 4/6/2009 @ 8:59 pm

  10. SS:

    That’s the date for the election. Not the date when the 25-30% will become the 50%.

    You know, one of the things I think Rick is trying to do is to get conservatives to be serious about what’s happened. And I’m not getting the impression that many of you get it. You’re in so much more trouble than you think. There’s been a paradigm shift. The country has left you behind. And all the Palins and Jindals and Newts in the world aren’t going to save you.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 4/6/2009 @ 9:20 pm

  11. M. Reynolds:

    Sarkozy and Merkel were more aligned with Bush than they’ll ever be with Obama. Same goes for Britain– Brown, Blair, whoever.

    “The clear perception in Europe and in the world is that this was Anglo-American capitalism run amuck.”

    Only among leftist eco-nitwits. Among the sane, we like to call it history or in other words: life. You know, things are good, then then they go bad, then they get better, etc.

    You really are a disagreeable person, online at least. “There’s been a paradigm shift. The country has left you behind.”

    Who the f&^% are you to tell any other American that the country has left him/her behind just because ‘your guy’ wins an election? One election. How does the NY Rep race Tedisco vs. Murphy fit into your little “everyone loves lefties” fantasy?

    “the world aren’t going to save you.”
    Ah, here we go, the whiny little boy emerges. Reynolds, us non-leftists don’t need any politicians to save us. I’ll still live a great life in this country no matter who’s in office.

    You will always suck no matter who is CiC!

    Good day, sir.

    Comment by Some Guy — 4/6/2009 @ 11:00 pm

  12. Some Guy:

    I’m sorry you don’t like the facts. But I’m really not to blame for reality.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 4/6/2009 @ 11:23 pm

  13. Sirius,
    I’m German and well, don’t let me get started on Austrians. Speaking German, pleez, that’s like claiming you understand Boomhauer…just saying.

    Comment by funny man — 4/7/2009 @ 1:22 am

  14. The only time our allies are “our allies” is when they are being overrun by tyranny.

    Comment by CZ — 4/7/2009 @ 5:57 am

  15. About what you’d expect from a Liberal. Even Barney Frank would be insulted at having Obama’s performance being compared to his record.

    Comment by Thomas Jackson — 4/7/2009 @ 6:53 pm

  16. “Even Barney Frank would be insulted at having Obama’s performance being compared to his record.

    If Obama had a record to compare it with!

    Comment by SShiell — 4/8/2009 @ 5:10 am

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