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By Gary Starr for the Neville Awards
September 29, 2009
Back in March, just two months after our Fraudinator-in-Chief's coronation we brought you some liberals who were getting .
These included Frank Rich of the NY Times (although he has long since reverted to form), columnist Thomas Friedman, Michael Wolff of Vanity Fair,
Michael Gerson of the Washington Post and Christopher Buckley at the Daily Beast.
In the wake of Obama's rediculous and disasterous UN and G20 speeches the ranks of the dissaffected continue to grow...and we at Neville couldn't be more "I told you so."
For (again), and the over-arching complaint is that the president is somehow not acting tough enough with Iran. These were the same losers who complained that Bush's
cowboy image was somehow "too tough"
All About Obama
by Michael Gerson
September 26, 2009
I’ve refrained from commenting on President Obama’s address to the United Nations General Assembly because the speech made me angry. And most postings -- or letters, or e-mails -- written while angry are better discarded or deleted.
But this address grows more disturbing on further reading. Some major presidential speeches deserve to be remembered, quoted and celebrated. Some deserve to be forgotten. A few deserve to be remembered and criticized, because they dishonor the history of presidential rhetoric.
Obama’s rhetorical method in international contexts -- given supreme expression at the United Nations this week -- is a moral dialectic. The thesis: pre-Obama America is a nation of many flaws and failures. The antithesis: The world responds with understandable but misguided prejudice. The synthesis: Me. Me, at all costs; me, in spite of all terrors; me, however long and hard the road may be. How great a world we all should see, if only all were more like…me.
On several occasions, Obama attacked American conduct in simplistic caricatures a European diplomat might employ or applaud. He accused America of acing “unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others” -- a slander against every American ally who has made sacrifices in Iraq and Afghanistan. He argued that, “America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy” -- which is hardly a challenge for the Obama administration, which has yet to make a priority of promoting democracy or human rights anywhere in the world.
The world, of course, has its problems, too. It has accepted “misperceptions and misinformation.” It can be guilty of a “reflexive anti-Americanism.” “Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone.” Translation: I know you adore me because I am better than America’s flawed past. But don’t just stand there loving me, do something.
I can recall no other major American speech in which the narcissism of a leader has been quite so pronounced. It might be compared to Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s “I shall return” -- which made it sound like MacArthur intended to reconquer the Philippines single-handedly. But MacArthur, at least, imagined himself as embodying his country, not transcending it. He did not assert that while the Japanese invasion was certainly excessive, America had been guilty of provocations of its own -- and now, in the MacArthur era, things would be finally different.
Twice in his United Nations speech, Obama dares to quote Franklin Roosevelt. I have read quite a bit of Roosevelt’s rhetoric. It is impossible to imagine him, under any circumstances, unfairly criticizing his own country in an international forum in order to make himself look better in comparison. He would have considered such a rhetorical strategy shameful -- as indeed it is.
At the United Nations, Obama set out to denigrate American goodness so he can become our rescuer. The speech had nothing to do with the confident style of Democratic rhetoric found in Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy. It insulted that tradition. And no one is likely ever to quote the speech -- except to deride it.
The Limits of Charisma-Mr. President, please stay off TV.
By Howard Fineman | NEWSWEEK
Published Sep 26, 2009
If ubiquity were the measure of a presidency, Barack Obama would already be grinning at us from Mount Rushmore. But of course it is not. Despite his many words and television appearances, our elegant and eloquent president remains more an emblem of change than an agent of it. He's a man with an endless, worthy to-do list—health care, climate change, bank reform, global capital regulation, AfPak, the Middle East, you name it—but, as yet, no boxes checked "done." This is a problem that style will not fix. Unless Obama learns to rely less on charm, rhetoric, and good intentions and more on picking his spots and winning in political combat, he's not going to be reelected, let alone enshrined in South Dakota.
The president's problem isn't that he is too visible; it's the lack of content in what he says when he keeps showing up on the tube. Obama can seem a mite too impressed with his own aura, as if his presence on the stage is the Answer. There is, at times, a self-referential (even self-reverential) tone in his big speeches. They are heavily salted with the words "I" and "my." (He used the former 11 times in the first few paragraphs of his address to the U.N. last week.) Obama is a historic figure, but that is the beginning, not the end, of the story.
There is only so much political mileage that can still be had by his reminding the world that he is not George W. Bush. It was the winning theme of the 2008 campaign, but that race ended nearly a year ago. The ex-president is now more ex than ever, yet the current president, who vowed to look forward, is still reaching back to Bush as bogeyman.
He did it again in that U.N. speech. The delegates wanted to know what the president was going to do about Israel and the Palestinian territories. He answered by telling them what his predecessor had failed to do. This was effective for his first month or two. Now it is starting to sound more like an excuse than an explanation.
Members of Obama's own party know who Obama is not; they still sometimes wonder who he really is. In Washington, the appearance of uncertainty is taken as weakness—especially on Capitol Hill, where a president is only as revered as he is feared. Being the cool, convivial late-night-guest in chief won't cut it with Congress, an institution impervious to charm (especially the charm of a president with wavering poll numbers). Members of both parties are taking Obama's measure with their defiant and sometimes hostile response to his desires on health care. Never much of a legislator (and not long a senator), Obama underestimated the complexity of enacting a major "reform" bill. Letting Congress try to write it on its own was an awful idea. As a balkanized land of microfiefdoms, each loyal to its own lobbyists and consultants, Congress is incapable of being led by its "leadership." It's not like Chicago, where you call a guy who calls a guy who calls Daley, who makes the call. The president himself must make his wishes clear—along with the consequences for those who fail to grant them.
The model is a man whose political effectiveness Obama repeatedly says he admires: Ronald Reagan. There was never doubt about what he wanted. The Gipper made his simple, dramatic tax cuts the centerpiece not only of his campaign but also of the entire first year of his presidency.
Obama seems to think he'll get credit for the breathtaking scope of his ambition. But unless he sees results, it will have the opposite effect—diluting his clout, exhausting his allies, and emboldening his enemies.
That may be starting to happen. Health-care legislation is still weeks, if not months, from passage, and the bill as it stands could well be a windfall for the very insurance and drug companies it was supposed to rein in. Climate-change legislation (a.k.a. cap-and-trade) is almost certainly dead for this year, which means that American negotiators will go empty-handed to the Copenhagen summit in December —pushing the goal of limiting carbon emissions even farther into the distance. In the spring Obama privately told the big banks that he was going to change the way they do business. It was going to be his way or the highway. But the complex legislation he wants to submit to Congress has little chance of passage this year. Doing Letterman again won't help. It may boost the host's ratings, Mr. President, but probably not your own.
Time to Act Like a President
By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sooner or later it is going to occur to Barack Obama that he is the president of the United States. As of yet, though, he does not act that way, appearing promiscuously on television and granting interviews like the presidential candidate he no longer is. The election has been held, but the campaign goes on and on. The candidate has yet to become commander in chief.
Take last week's Group of 20 meeting in Pittsburgh. There, the candidate-in-full commandeered the television networks and the leaders of Britain and France to give the Iranians a dramatic warning. Yet another of their secret nuclear facilities had been revealed and Obama, as anyone could see, was determined to do something about it -- just don't ask what.
The entire episode had a faux Cuban missile crisis quality to it. Something menacing had been discovered -- not Soviet missiles a mere 100 miles or so off Florida but an Iranian nuclear installation about 100 miles from Tehran. As befitting the occasion, various publications supplied us with nearly minute-by-minute descriptions of the crisis atmosphere earlier in the week at the U.N. session -- the rushing from room to room, presidential aides conferring, undoubtedly aware that they were in the middle of a book they had yet to write. I scanned the accounts looking for familiar names. Where was McNamara? Where was Bundy? Where, in fact, was the crisis?
In fact, there was none. The supposedly secret installation had been known to Western intelligence agencies -- Britain, France, the United States and undoubtedly Israel -- for several years. Its existence had been deduced by intelligence analysts from Iranian purchases abroad, and it was pinpointed sometime afterward. What had changed was that news of it had gone public. This happened not because Obama announced it but because the Iranians beat him to it after discovering that their cover was blown. They then turned themselves in to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and, as usual, said the site was intended for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. These Persians lie like a rug.
No one should believe Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran seems intent on developing a nuclear weapons program and the missiles capable of delivering them. This -- not the public revelations of a known installation -- is the real crisis, possibly one that can only end in war. It is entirely possible that Israel, faced with that chilling cliche -- an existential threat -- will bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. What would happen next is anyone's guess -- retaliation by Hamas and Hezbollah, an unprecedented spike in oil prices and then, after a few years or less, a resumption of Iran's nuclear program. Only the United States has the capability to obliterate Tehran's underground facilities. Washington may have to act.
For a crisis such as this, the immense prestige of the American presidency ought to be held in reserve. Let the secretary of state issue grave warnings. When Obama said in Pittsburgh that Iran is "going to have to come clean and they are going to have to make a choice," it had the sound of an ultimatum. But what if the Iranians don't? What then? A president has to be careful with such language. He better mean what he says.
The trouble with Obama is that he gets into the moment and means what he says for that moment only. He meant what he said when he called Afghanistan a "war of necessity" -- and now is not necessarily so sure. He meant what he said about the public option in his health-care plan -- and then again maybe not. He would not prosecute CIA agents for getting rough with detainees -- and then again maybe he would.
Most tellingly, he gave Congress an August deadline for passage of health-care legislation -- "Now, if there are no deadlines, nothing gets done in this town . . . " -- and then let it pass. It seemed not to occur to Obama that a deadline comes with a consequence -- meet it or else.
Obama lost credibility with his deadline-that-never-was, and now he threatens to lose some more with his posturing toward Iran. He has gotten into a demeaning dialogue with Ahmadinejad, an accomplished liar. (The next day, the Iranian used a news conference to counter Obama and, days later, Iran tested some intermediate-range missiles.) Obama is our version of a Supreme Leader, not given to making idle threats, setting idle deadlines, reversing course on momentous issues, creating a TV crisis where none existed or, unbelievably, pitching Chicago for the 2016 Olympics. Obama's the president. Time he understood that.