"I Am A Dream"

Canadian columnist David Warren on Barry’s “Cairo disaster”:

…As I have argued previously, [Obama] is not an honest man but, instead, a demagogue. He plays games with reality in the course of weaving his rhetorical spells. To be clear: he is no Hitler, no Mussolini, with some vision of national or racial glory, cynically manipulating the crowds to purposes that are ultimately violent. Far from that.

Nor is he a Trudeau, precisely, with an inner contempt for the people he is pledged to serve, and his own agenda to put past them. I do not even think Obama suffers from the vanity of Trudeau, who may actually have imagined himself to be some sort of “philosopher king.”

Obama’s is a different, more insidious vanity. He acknowledges his rhetorical gift as a gift, but imagines the solutions to problems coalesce of their own accord in his presence. He is President Orpheus, the “poet king,” transforming nature with his music. The German weekly, Die Zeit, expressed this perfectly in a headline: “I am a dream!”

It is the failure to acknowledge hard realities that makes Obama dangerous. As a wise Texan of my acquaintance put it, “he is attempting to model himself on Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator. But, it’s with a twist. He sees himself as the Great Mediator — the One who will step into every conflict around the globe, bring to bear his superior intelligence and teleprompted eloquence, and leave the parties in a warm embrace.”

Another old friend, the errant “neocon” David Frum, explained what is shocking in that Cairo speech: to find an American president no longer mediating domestic American conflicts, but rather, those between his own country and some of her deadliest enemies. This may be presented as “reaching out” but, in practice, it leaves his own side unchampioned, unrepresented, and in the end, undefended.

Moreover, he is playing this game with a child’s understanding of the history and the stakes.

The Cairo speech is loaded with historical howlers. Other writers have explicated his misconceptions about Israel, and Hamas; about the American history in Iran; even his ridiculous notions about America’s earliest engagements with Islam. With short space, I leave that to them, but will draw attention to two grand statements, so fatuous as to beggar belief:

“As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam — at places like Al-Azhar University — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.”

And: “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition.”

No serious “student of history” could possibly have made either remark. The former is just bosh; the latter is incredibly offensive to western Christendom, quite apart from the laughable anachronism.

It would be wrong to demean the real achievements of Islamic civilization to advance western vanities. But also the reverse: it is wrong to demean the real achievements of Christendom, in the service of Islamic vanities even more absurd. And to do the latter, after presenting oneself as a Christian, is to sell out one’s whole society and being.

We may accommodate the playful, but the U.S. president was not being playful here. Or rather, he was playing with fire, as I know from some familiarity with the audience he was addressing. He was playing to the crowd, and in this case, playing to the tragic and self-destructive modern Arab propensity to blame every Arab problem on the machinations of outsiders.

By playing to that, Obama is selling out not only the democrats in the Arab and Islamic world, but every force and influence for self-betterment.

His English-speaking audience might note all the counter-balancing rhetoric about microloans and development and a woman’s choices. But for each of those, he announced some U.S. aid program that put the onus upon outsiders, again.

The speech did not merely miss an opportunity to speak the truth plainly. It sabotaged every effort to speak the truth plainly, to the darkest tyrannical forces in the Islamic world. It sold out America, it sold out the West, and it sold out the Muslims, too.

Peter Wehner comes to the same conclusion:

…A third important thing to take away from [Evan] Thomas’s comments is why Obama is so beloved by some reporters and commentators. Reagan, Thomas says, was “all about America.” But Obama is “above that now.” He is “standing above the country” he was elected to represent. And in doing so, we’re not just “parochial, we’re not just chauvinistic, we’re not just provincial.”

That is an extremely and probably unintentionally revealing set of comments by Mr. Thomas. For the president to speak on behalf of his nation as Reagan spoke up for America is viewed as unsophisticated, narrow-minded, and bigoted. Obama, in the eyes of his supporters, has transcended such things. According to the logic of Thomas, Obama deserves to be praised precisely because he does not, in the first instance, represent America. At his best, Obama is a “citizen of the world,” standing “above the country.”

Some of us have a different, quainter notion of such things. We believe America is, in the words of Lincoln, an “inestimable jewel” — an imperfect and extraordinary nation that deserves our affection and deepest attachment. We believe, as Lincoln and the founders did, that the fate of this republic is inextricably tied to the principles upon which it was founded. We actually do not want our President to “stand above the country.” And we do not believe it is particularly sophisticated to disparage as chauvinistic and provincial those who speak up for her. Nor, I might add, do we view Obama as “sort of God,” or anything close to God. The fact that Evan Thomas and those who view the world as he does, do see Obama in supernatural terms tells you everything you need to know, and probably nothing you didn’t know.

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