Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: PJ Media — Rick Moran @ 7:08 am

My latest column is up at PJ Media and it is receiving the usual love and respect of commenters there.

Evidently, I was insufficiently harsh and brutal on the president, on Muslims, and on the media. But in reading a lot of react to the speech from yesterday and today, I don’t think my analysis is that far off from many on the thoughtful right. We all had problems with much of what Obama said but also acknowledge that the effort was necessary and that there were places where the president was very good.

I think in particular, Obama’s themes were, while rather ordinary, very successful in making the speech accessible to his audience. And I can’t see anyone on the right quibbling with the president’s strong, unequivocal statement that he would defend this country and citizens from terrorism - implying he would do so even if the Muslim world disagreed with him. Alas, that kind of strength was missing from much of the speech.

Here’s a sample but please do me a favor and read the whole thing before commenting:

The fact that this perception has been fed by the controlled press of the holy terrors who rule much of the Islamic world as well as the holy men who seek to control their flocks through fear of the “crusader” and hate for the infidel only made Obama’s job of breaking through the ignorance and isolation that is the sad lot of most of the world’s Muslims that much harder.

Even if you have a very low opinion of President Obama, I don’t see how you can honestly criticize him for trying to alter the dynamic that currently exists between Islam and the West. And keeping in mind that we are at war with a large segment of Islam (much larger than the president would have ever dared say in public), the rhetorical tightrope that Obama was forced to walk between unequivocally condemning the extremists while attempting to placate the sensibilities and feelings of hypersensitive Muslims who believe they have been stereotyped as mad bombers was worthy of anything Barnum and Bailey could have produced.

There are many on both the left and right who are criticizing the president for making a speech that didn’t accomplish anything or actually played into the hands of our enemies. While I found plenty that was objectionable in the speech, I think that kind of criticism misses the point.

As the president said, no one speech was going to change things. Rather, it was the fact that speech was made in the first place, and where it was given that impacted the consciousness of the Muslim world. Right now, they’re not listening to us — even with our Lightworker president in office. Announcing to the world that the president of the United States was going to address the Muslim world and do it in a Muslim country you have to admit at least got the planet’s attention.

Every journey begins with a first step. And if the minimum President Obama could accomplish would be to get the Muslim world to pause in their headlong dash toward history’s gasoline dump with a stick of dynamite in their mouth and a fistful of lit matches, while forcing them to listen to a few (too few, as it turned out) truths about Islam and the threat of extremists, then the president would have accomplished as much as could be expected.


  1. Grrr, Muslims, you’re soft, traitor, grrrr, must destroy, no apologies! Ow ow owooooo! Torture them all!

    Ahem. Sorry. I think one of the PJM commenters bit me as I was passing through.

    I’ll tell you, Rick, your great failing as a right wing pundit is that you are intellectually honest. (Mostly.) You hear the small, still voice of The Truth calling to you and you listen to it. You should probably do something about that. (I understand it’s now possible to get Hannity as a dietary supplement in convenient capsule.)

    A lot of things the speech could have done, lot of things Obama could have added, but it was already long. And you wouldn’t want to cut the portions where he went on about the long, historic importance of Morocco to the US, would you? Where the hell would we be with Morocco?

    Really? Morocco? Yeah, okay. Plus the pens. Very important stuff involving pens . Who knew?

    In any case, the mission is one of seduction. The Arab world believes X and we believe Y. In attempting to get them to move from X to Y we allow a watered-down version of X so that we can encourage reciprocation. He walked the “hard truths” right up to the edge of insult but not over. In a seduction you can say “I know we have our differences, and some of what you do drives me crazy.” But you can’t say, “You look fat in those jeans.”

    The primary audience was not Arab rulers who are usually only moved by Swiss bank accounts, tricked-out F-16’s and the occasional threat. The audience was individual Muslims around the world. And I don’t think he was looking for a pay-off in the short term. Obama plays a long game.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 6/5/2009 @ 8:32 am

  2. Probably the niftiest phrase ever turned by George Bush (even if a speechwriter spoon fed him) was “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

    That is at work with the overall reaction from the punditocracy to the Cairo speech and while I knew you slipped the usual grenade or two into your analysis, it is one of the better ones.

    Comment by Shaun — 6/5/2009 @ 9:30 am

  3. “We all had problems with much of what Obama said but also acknowledge that the effort was necessary and that there were places where the president was very good.”

    Yes, Obama is very good at offering up the ’something for everyone’ menu. Gotta give him credit for that ability.

    I did read the speech because I am really trying to hear what others seem to are hearing. But I can’t get past hearing just words. Empty words, empty man. I don’t think he really knows or has any depth of understanding of what being POTUS means. I DO think he is marginally competent of play-acting the part.

    Comment by mimi k — 6/5/2009 @ 9:48 am

  4. Correx: competent of = competent at

    Comment by mimi k — 6/5/2009 @ 9:58 am

  5. “I did read the speech because I am really trying to hear what others seem to are hearing. But I can’t get past hearing just words. Empty words, empty man. I don’t think he really knows or has any depth of understanding of what being POTUS means. I DO think he is marginally competent of play-acting the part.”

    And did you think that GWB was better at this? You are truly right wing nuts on this blog. Incredible. In fact I don’t think we had a genuine news conference from george for the first nine months he was in office. He was too shy, didn’t know how, couldn’t give intelligible speeches…. and it never got any better with him. LOL

    Fortunately we have an articulate, intelligent man in the WH to clean up the bush/cheney messes.

    Comment by Hannah Stevens — 6/5/2009 @ 10:45 am

  6. All in all, it really was a quite forgettable speech domestically except for the objectionable parts. What the intended audience, the Islamic one, retains will be important. It could be Muslims remember that the United States extended an initial oliver branch, or is weak and vulnerable, or a combination of all. While I sincerely hope it is the former only, I suspect it will be a mixture. If it were to be only weakness and vulnerability, Obama will be the American Chamberlin. As an American, I truly hope it isn’t that. As a realist, I believe it easily could be.

    And regardless of how Muslims ultimately react, nothing has changed regarding Iran, Hezbollah, and our challenges in Afghanistan. No, one speech or a thousand speeches weren’t going to make a difference on those fronts. Policies and military responses will. Obama has been good on Afghanistan, and rather poor on the looming Iranian and Lebanese elections. How he responds to these potential crises will be how he is ultimately judged.

    Comment by jackson1234 — 6/5/2009 @ 10:46 am

  7. Well of course Muslims like our Muslim president. He is one of them. He is catering to them as well.

    Comment by Eileen — 6/5/2009 @ 10:54 am

  8. “I was insufficiently harsh and brutal on the president, on Muslims, and on the media.” No - Just the President. He is way-UNDER-criticized by the fawning lamestreamers in the media, that it doesnt hurt to ask - “To what end? What is his goal here? What did it/ will it accomplish?” He needs a kick in the pants and needs to stop being graded on his intentions (as if ANY President doesnt have good intentions) and START grading him on RESULTS.

    For example this comment: “President Obama decided to tempt the fates, grab history by the tail, and take on a task from which Hercules himself would have shied away: changing the perception of how the United States is viewed in the Muslim world.”

    Um, sorry, but … rubbish. GHWBush tried to change perceptions - Oslo accords. Clinton tried as well - He had Arafat over for a visit. GWBush after 9/11 directly addressed Arab people, gave a famous speech on democracy …
    Yes, Obama has uniquely decided to talk directly to foreign audiences, in a way not much seen since Reagan in ‘tear down that wall’ mode. That innovation is different and would be useful, if it was put to good use with a message that gave an American message in a palatable way to Muslim audiences. But it wasnt (see below). In other words, lets stop giving this nonsensical “oh, he’s trying so that means it must be some good.” So was Bush and I never heard his great efforts to move the ball on democracy in Arab countries win plaudits ‘for effort’. Results count. WE didnt grade previous presidents on effort, lets not do it here.

    There was too much in Obama’s speech that was flat-out false and fatuous that it rendered it useless to the job of winning Muslims audiences to OUR side. Rather, it simple ingratiated Obama with them by pandering to their preconceived notions, except in a few places, where the push was soft the point of not-being-there.

    Obama comes off as sounding more like a candidate for UN secretary-general than a US President, not *challenging* these foreign audiences to respect serious truths about terrorism and freedom and democracy, but pandering to them by flattering them with white lies (eg his hyperbole about Islamic science is nonsense that comes straight out from pro-muslim propaganda PR) that elided the essential problems and challenges they face. In short, pandering aint leadership nor statesmanship. Its just pandering, and unless he’s running for mayor of Cairo one has to ask “To what end?”

    The hammer-hits-nail part of Moran’s analysis was this: “while forcing them to listen to a few (too few, as it turned out) truths about Islam and the threat of extremists”

    TOO FEW. Indeed. Not a ‘great speech’ or even good speech. But a missed opportunity

    To put an analogy on it: Obama could flatter a black American audience with a message akin to Al Sharpton’s, or he could challenge them with the tough love of a Bill Cosby message. One might get more applause, but which one would do most good?

    I saw the comment ’stupid and dangerous’ as one reaction. It fits. The stupid part is how Obama in effect distanced himself from America - “Hey those bad Americans did that, its not me” - in an attempt to curry favor. So the muslim world will like HIM, but it will not necessarily cause the NEEDED self-examination nor look differently or more positively at what USA is doing. The dangerous part was the false moral equivalences that will - if taken seriously - put America in a rhetorical and policy box when facing real threats. Is he serious that Iran has the same rights to nuclear technology as the USA? Will his false moral equivalences move us closer? Not really because it panders to the most resistant and stubborn in the Arab world.

    “All in all, it really was a quite forgettable speech domestically except for the objectionable parts. ” - I agree. In catering to the muslim audiences, Obama has said many things (again!) that raise hairs on spine back home.

    Comment by Freedoms Truth — 6/5/2009 @ 1:17 pm

  9. Look, I’m open to anything that works. Praising Muslim history, encouraging the the young Muslim audience, making his case without threats… all good. And I hope it works.

    I’m just not convinced that it makes any difference. Perhaps it is a minority of Muslims that are extremists, but those are the ones that are running the various countries (sometimes behind the scenes, as in Egypt and Saudi Arabia). As long as we have any association or support for Israel, they will not like us, and they will not be our friends.

    Even apart from that, the religion itself seems very clear that there’s not any tolerance for non-believers. Christians seem to have the same goals (spread it everywhere), but not at the point of a gun.

    I guess what bothers me most about the trip is the snub to the only mid-east country that is an ally. It’s one thing to barely mention Israel in the speech (keep a low profile on our relationship with them since it ignites such hatred- I get that), but to visit so many middle-east countries and not grace them with the respect of a visit diminishes our relationship, and encourages the enemies of Israel.

    Comment by lionheart — 6/5/2009 @ 1:33 pm

  10. A trip to Israel would have helped Bibi Netanyahu. Instead Obama went to Buchenwald, a gesture of solidarity with the Jewish people. It helps Israeli moderates.

    It was elegant and subtle. A very smart play, particularly since he’s doing it all so early in his term.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 6/5/2009 @ 2:16 pm

  11. Yah, Hannah, Bush IS better. Wayyyyyy better. Though he wasn’t perfect, and I have real anger with the lack of leadership at times in his administration. But he IS a better man, period.

    Your articulate, intelligent man-boy emperor in the WH isn’t going to be able to clean up the mess he’s made in the last 4 months, never mind the messes he and his fascist administration have planned. His messes are going to stick big time. Maybe you are one of those privileged fortunate few who will be able to escape the stink when it hits, but a doubt it.

    Comment by mimi k — 6/5/2009 @ 3:06 pm

  12. I read through the comments at PJ media. I’m laughing.

    From the outside it seems like trying to stake out a place on ‘the thoughtful right’ is like trying to stake out a place as a flea on a rabid dog. Until you jump off — or you get scratched off — you’re going to be taken on a ride to a place you don’t want to go.

    Comment by copithorne — 6/5/2009 @ 4:57 pm

  13. Read the PJ Media article, then read all 60 replies…ouch! To be sure, I expected disagreement in most of the comments, but the level of hate on display is amazing. (My favorite was when one of them accused Rick of taking the name of the lord in vain by saying “Jeez”, which happened to be the name of another commentator!) Crap like this makes me wonder about the future viability of PJ Media if folks like these are representative of their readers.

    It’s not as if civilized commentary is impossible on mainstream Conservative blogs; LGF has turned in quite an enjoyable site to lurk around now that they have banned the worst of the kooks. The Volohk Conspiracy is a joy to read, with the commentators usually bashing the posters! (Right Wing Nut House is pretty good at this too, but that should go without saying.)

    Comment by Surabaya Stew — 6/5/2009 @ 7:44 pm

  14. Rick,
    I think that the premise of the “Islamic world” is flawed to begin with - there is no such thing as the “Islamic world” - although inadvertently, you walked right into Osama Bin Laden’s trap of viewing countries not on their individual basis, but on a purely religious basis.

    If Obama was addressing the “Islamic world” in what capacity was that ? As it is America is already considered the leader of the Christian/Crusader nation by Osama Bin Laden and the average person in the Middle East - none of them view America as a secular country especially given your strong support for the Jewish world/ state in Israel.

    Obama, if anything reinforced the prism that OBL wants those Muslims of the world (who are insane and bloodthristy enough to listen to him in the first place)to view America through.

    The more appropriate words should have been the Arab world and states that have very close economic, religious and geopolitical interests with the Arab world -take for example,Pakistan.I dont think he was addressing the 150 million Muslims in India, or the equal number of Muslims in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia or in African countries like Nigeria - and hope you realize here that the number of Muslims in all these countries exceed that of the number of Muslims in all of the Arab states.

    I would be alarmed if he did - coming from India, and having seen first hand how many people tried to divide the country into Hindus and Muslims (does any one remember the rationale for Pakistan ?), I am not exactly comfortable with Indian Muslims seeing themselves as part of the “Muslim world”.

    This does not mean that iam denying their faith - it simply means that I dont want them to feel that they belong to something other than a diverse and multi cultural India - the exact same way you wouldnt exactly like US citizens of foreign origin to hang on to the identity of their host countries - again, I understand that this does not mean that you are demaning that people should forget their roots - but at the same time, they also have to remember that they are American NOW first and foremost and every thing else later.

    Obama claims that he lived in Indonesia but he behaves that he knows nothing about it - they are easily among the most moderate Islamic nations on earth, along with the Malaysians. Their women folk follow traditional dress codes but are allowed to work in public places - any one who has been to Kuala Lampur or Jakarta can attest to that.

    If anything Obama should have pointed to the moderate nature of these two countries and shown how much they have progressed -and how they are able to treat their women with far more dignity than the stonings and honor killings you see in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the entire Arab world.

    Leave it to a Democrat to clump Muslims as one homegeneous block of people -they play identity politics all the time and it comes easy to them. I am disappointed that you fell for the “Muslim” world meme too.

    I did like the passage where he said that women can and should be equal participants in civil society in these Islamic states - it was met with stony silence. Imagine that ! we are talking about a University here - a place of learning. And they could not applaud him for that ??

    The shallowness with which the MSM has treated Obama’s “outreach” is pretty predictable - but i would also like to point out that you guys look pretty condescending to Arabs and the “Muslim” world when you use words such as “outreach”.

    This was a start by Obama - a dangerous one, that is.

    Comment by Nagarajan Sivakumar — 6/7/2009 @ 1:49 pm

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