President Barack Obama’s weekend interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is a stunning portrait of incoherence and inadequacy. Friedman–a shameless promoter of Obama since the 2008 campaign, whose books have allegedly influenced Obama’s foreign policy views–tries his mightiest to wrest something of substance from the absentee president: “[I]t’s clear that the president has a take on the world,” he declares.
And what is Obama’s “take“? Two themes emerge from a morass of clichés and sophistry. The first is that the world is simply not worth engaging unless it agrees to behave itself: “no victor, no vanquished,” says Obama. Second, America is its own worst enemy, and the political divisions at home threaten to become as disruptive as those in Iraq. (The Tea Party, Friedman chimes in, “accounts for at least half of [Obama’s] gray hairs.”
Obama is a man shockingly detached, not just from his job, but from himself. It takes particular chutzpah to blame your fellow Americans for political divisions when you are running around threatening executive orders if you don’t get your way. And it takes a special kind of arrogance to insist that the world behave as you wish it to, or to think that withholding your interest in it presents any kind of threat that will be taken seriously.
As for a path forward, Obama has no ideas. Russia could invade Ukraine–and there is nothing we could do, he suggests. Iraq is imploding–but that was inevitable given “de-Baathification” (i.e. Bush’s fault). Israel is united behind Benjamin Netanyahu–and that’s too bad.
That such impotence poses as insight speaks to the narcissism of the man, and of those satraps who put him in a position to do the most damage to himself and the country.
Image: Screenshot/New York Times