Tell me there’s no one out there who still thinks Barack Obama is a normal, somewhat-to-the-left Democrat. Please.
You may not have even known Obama was headed to India this weekend, to be present for India’s Republic Day celebration on Monday. The media, and the administration, have gotten pretty lackadaisical about showcasing such events. Which is another story.
Reportedly, as of yesterday, the Obamas were still supposed to visit the Taj Mahal on Tuesday. Now, however, they will cut their time in India short to head to Saudi Arabia, where Obama will pay respects to the family of the late King Abdullah.
Just yesterday, the White House announced that Biden would go to Riyadh. Spokesman Josh Earnest even defended that plan under critical questioning from the media. The Saudis have long been a key U.S. partner in the Middle East, and Obama is the last of several presidents to have close personal relationships with Abdullah. Reporters thought it odd that he wasn’t going to Saudi Arabia, but Earnest defended the decision.
Now, however, Obama, who couldn’t be bothered to send even John Kerry to the march in Paris on 11 January, much less Biden (and far less himself), will rearrange a high-profile diplomatic trip to represent America in person.
It would have been conventional for Obama to plan from the moment Abdullah’s death was announced to visit Saudi Arabia for condolences. It’s not that there’s something wrong with Obama going. It’s Obama making a last-minute decision to change his plans, after they were announced, in the context of all the other appointments he has chosen to make or not make in the first weeks of 2015.
This is also the Obama who will not be attending the 70th anniversary commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz, or sending a high-level representative. (Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will be there, for no apparent reason, to show the flag.)
Granted, the commemoration in Auschwitz is on Tuesday, which is also the date of Obama’s condolence visit. But if ever there were a president whose motives for making last-minute changes had to be suspect, it’s this one.
The elephant in the room, of course, is the throbbing-vein snit-fit the administration has thrown over Benjamin Netanyahu’s acceptance of an independent invitation from Speaker John Boehner to address Congress. The Obama administration responded to that with the charge that Netanyahu had “spit in our face,” and with a warning about limits to U.S. support for Israel:
“The secretary’s patience is not infinite,” a source close to Kerry told the Post. “The bilateral relationship is unshakable. But playing politics with that relationship could blunt Secretary Kerry’s enthusiasm for being Israel’s primary defender.”
This profoundly irresponsible comment comes almost exactly a year after a previous “thinly-veiled” warning from Kerry, in which he opined that Israel faced increasing economic isolation, and he himself “100% guaranteed” that peace could not be maintained if Israel didn’t make the concessions he had in mind. Which, if it’s not obvious, is also a profoundly irresponsible thing to say.
Netanyahu, of course, won’t be getting a visit with members of the Obama administration when he’s here.
I probably don’t need to remind alert readers of whom the POTUS-in-chief did elect to entertain a visit from this week: YouTube comedienne GloZell “Froot Loops” Green.
Basically, what we continue to see from Obama is a relentless devaluation and personalization of his head-of-state scheduling choices – and of his head-of-government relations with allies. He dispatched James Taylor to serenade the French after missing the Paris solidarity march for no good reason, and he persists in childish tantrums over Israel’s refusal to fall in line with an Iran policy that no one, outside of a handful of Western governments, imagines will keep the radical mullahs from getting a bomb.
Only a coterie of the deluded still thinks Obama and his policies command the respect once accorded to the leadership of the United States. The American media keep going to bat for him, even Fox perpetuating the fiction that something normal – something continuous with the practices of the old order – is going on, if Obama eventually, sometimes, does the expected thing.
This is dangerous self-delusion. What’s going on with the Obama administration isn’t normal. In fact, it comes off as crazy too often for comfort. It’s freaking out the rest of the world, frankly, and by actively highlighting the leadership vacuum in Washington, it’s serving to encourage all the worst actors out there.
I’ll close with a superb tweet from Garry Kasparov, the Russian politician and chess master, which reminds us that it’s possible to see in advance the favors being done for our enemies by the delusional, misguided policies of our own leaders. (And, let us stipulate, by a foolish people that keeps electing them. For those who might have to refresh their memories, Kasparov refers here to prime minister and model appeaser Stanley Baldwin.)
When a German bomb hit Baldwin’s house during the Blitz, Churchill quipped, “What ingratitude!” No sympathy for the pre-war appeasers.
— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) January 24, 2015