Quote of the Day:
Reading Jeff Goldberg’s fascinating account in The Atlantic of his conversations with the president of the United States, the conclusion I came to was that Obama was born in the wrong country. (And, yes, contrary to the sinister suspicions of “birthers” like Donald Trump, he really was born in this country.) He would have made a great Scandinavian prime minister.
–Max Boot in "A Cringe-Worthy Presidency"
Writing in Commentary, Boot goes on to explain why President Obama would have been a great Scandinavian prime minister:
As Goldberg relates: “Obama has always had a fondness for pragmatic, emotionally contained technocrats, telling aides, ‘If only everyone could be like the Scandinavians, this would all be easy.’” And like a good Scandinavian, he views global warming as the world’s biggest security threat: “ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States,” he told Goldberg. “Climate change is a potential existential threat to the entire world if we don’t do something about it.”
I see Obama as another Jesper Berg, the fictional prime minister of Norway in the great TV series “Occupied” (viewable on Netflix), another handsome, intelligent politician who is also transfixed by the threat of global warming and is nonchalant when the Russians start to invade his country in order to seize its oil production. (Berg had tried to shut down the entire oil industry because he thought it contributed to global warming.)
If you are perplexed by President Obama's foreign policy, which wages a half-hearted, sorta campaign against ISIS, is defeatist towards Russia and Vladimir Putin and wants to fight terrorism with climate regulations, seeing him this way explains everything. Obama, as Boot points out, is a man who sees multinational meetings at such forums at the U.N. and G20 as what matters. Obama, according to Boot, privately calls Libya "sh-t storm" but predictably blames everybody but Obama for this state of affairs. Living in his multinational fantasy, he can't see why, when the U.S. didn't step up, neither did our allies. He is peeved about this.
President Obama is able to see that the Saudis are a terrible regime, but it eludes him that the Iranians are far worse. On Israel, Obama is scathing. It is in Obama's lecturing of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that the president of the United State's ignorance, arrogance and generally cringe-worthy views of himself and the world come through:
In some ways, the most amazing part of Goldberg’s article is his account of how Obama, who had essentially no exposure to the Middle East before becoming president in 2009, had the temerity to lecture Netanyahu, who has lived in the region his entire life. After Netayanhu tried to explain Israeli thinking to Obama, the president curtly cut him off: “Bibi, you have to understand something,” he said. “I’m the African American son of a single mother, and I live here, in this house. I live in the White House. I managed to get elected president of the United States. You think I don’t understand what you’re talking about, but I do.”
It is harder to find a better encapsulation of Obama’s overweening arrogance: He thinks that his life story, which has nothing to do with the Middle East, gives him a greater understanding of the subject than the prime minister of Israel possesses.
Not only is Obama arrogant, but he also appears utterly devoid of self-reflection or self-awareness. It is now generally agreed that one of the biggest disasters of his administration was his haste in setting a “red line” over Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons and then failing to deliver any meaningful consequences when Assad violated that “red line.” As Goldberg notes, “Even commentators who have been broadly sympathetic to Obama’s policies saw this episode as calamitous. Gideon Rose, the editor of Foreign Affairs, wrote recently that Obama’s handling of this crisis — “‘first casually announcing a major commitment, then dithering about living up to it, then frantically tossing the ball to Congress for a decision — was a case study in embarrassingly amateurish improvisation.’”
Obama, by contrast, bizarrely claims: “I’m very proud of this moment.” No doubt Jesper Berg would have been proud, too. But for anyone who believes that America should maintain its strength, credibility, and deterrence, this was one of the most cringe-making episodes in a presidency full of them.
The world is always dangerous but it is more dangerous in 2016 than it was in 2008. Barack Obama is a big part of the reason for that.