Marty Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic, has some interesting things to say about the Obama Olympic trip. He too seems to have come to the conclusion many of us have about our new Commander in Chief:
What I suspect is that the president is probably a clinical narcissist. This is not necessarily a bad condition if one maintains for oneself what the psychiatrists call an “optimal margin of illusion,” that is, the margin of hope that allows you to work. But what if his narcissism blinds him to the issues and problems in the world and the inveterate foes of the nation that are not susceptible to his charms?
Chicago will survive its disappointments and Obama will, as well. It is the other stage sets on which the president struts–like he strutted in Cairo and at the United Nations–that concern me.
To the point:
If Obama could not get Chicago over the finish line in Copenhagen, which was a test only of his charms, how will he persuade Tehran to give up its nuclear weapons capacity or the Arabs, to whom he has tilted (we are told) only tactically, to sit down without their 60 year-old map as guide to what they demand from Israel.
Good question. To this point, “persuasion” seems to be the sum of our foreign policy strategy. What’s our alternate strategy if that doesn’t work? Or is our “clinical narcissist” beyond the “optimal margin of illusion” besides seeming to be in way over his head?
It can’t be hate or racism because both of these guys are huge Obama supporters:
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.
Those are pretty strong words, again alluding – no not alluding – flat out stating that there has been a whole lot of rah, rah going on and no leadership exhibited. And it is WaPo’s Richard Cohen uttering them. He goes on to describe the incident at the G20 meeting which he calls one that had “a faux Cuban missile crisis quality to it”. Lots of drama and stern visages, but not much substance as the leaders revealed something their countries had known about for years and only did so because Iran had made it known the previous week.
Cohen then advises:
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.
Indeed. And as we all know, the Secretary of State has been missing in action. If there is TV face time to be had, this president is going to elbow his way to the front. And that’s something else Cohen is tired of – seeing him on the tube. He says we should see much less of him. Frankly I agree, but am hoping he ignores the advice and continues to over-expose himself.
Cohen has also caught on to the “tell ’em what they want to hear at the time and then change your mind later” rhetoric that is common with Obama:
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.
What Cohen is dancing around actually saying is something which was said of Bill Clinton, “he’s a particularly good liar”.
Cohen ends his lament with this:
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.
But he doesn’t. He doesn’t at all. He has no reason to understand that because he has no experience in the type job he now holds. He’s a firm believer in his ability to persuade in a job that, like it or not, requires leadership and the use of power, intimidation and action.
And that brings me to the second of the dissillusioned – Marty Peretz at The New Republic’s “The Spine”:
The secretary of defense, Robert Gates, revealed two hush-hush secrets on television this morning.
1. that Iran intended to develop nuclear weapons. No sh*t!
2. that the matter of closing Guantanamo was “more complicated than we thought.” Surprise, surprise.
The first of these revelations is especially significant. What does it say about the president’s adventures in sympatico diplomacy? This is hard to say: but I believe it’s an utter failure.
And why is that? Because international politics is a form of anarchy, and that sort of an approach is seen as a sign of weakness to be exploited. So Iran, as it usually does, will make all the right noises at the appropriate time to try to lessen sanctions, but whether successful or not, it will continue to pursue its nuclear goals. As for Gitmo – has Obama learned that posturing is much easier than governing yet? The answer is no. In his UN speech he lauded himself for “ordering Guantanomo closed” on his first day and then a few days later it is announced that it won’t close on his extended deadline.
That is a perfect example of what Richard Cohen sees as problematic with this presidency. Obama considers the fact that he “ordered” something done to be an accomplishment. The rest of the world won’t consider it one until Gitmo is closed. He doesn’t seem to understand that difference.
See health care reform. Heck, see just about anything.