Tuesday, July 22, 2008

L'Etat, c'est Obama

I'm not sure we even need to have an election. It's pretty evident that Senator Obama is already president, given the wall-to-wall, fawning media coverage he's getting on his triumphal tour of the world. And his staff clearly thinks it's just a formality, as this report from the Politico would indicate.

At a morning background briefing, reporters parried with senior advisers on the characterization of Obama’s speech Thursday in Berlin as a campaign rally. The outdoor speech at the Victory Column could draw thousands of people, similar to the size of Obama events in the United States.

“It is not going to be a political speech,” said a senior foreign policy adviser, who spoke to reporters on background. “When the president of the United States goes and gives a speech, it is not a political speech or a political rally.

“But he is not president of the United States,” a reporter reminded the adviser.

“He is going to talk about the issues as an individual … not as a candidate, but as an individual, as a senator,” the adviser added.

Nice, huh? Look, life's not fair. There are a hell of a lot of people who want to pull this guy across the finish line and while I think there's still a chance to stop him, we stand an excellent chance of having this guy take the oath of office in January. The Republic survived four years of Jimmy Carter, so we would survive 4 or even 8 years of this guy. But I hope McCain roughs him up a bit. Obama needs someone to do that to him, because if he becomes president, he'll face a lot of people on the world stage who won't hesitate to test him. And as this terrific column from David Aaronovitch of the Times of London reminds us, even Obama's European fans will eventually turn on him. Consider this, Obama fans:

Some on the Left are getting their count-me-outs in already, realising that Mr Obama is, after all, a big-game hunter, a full-trousered American candidate. They, I think, are more realistic than those who manage on one day to laud the Democrat as not being a real politician, and on the next to praise him for his sensible left-trimming when seeking the party's nomination and his equally sensible centre-hugging once it was in the bag. I say the antis are more realistic because, eventually, we will hate or ridicule Mr Obama too - provided, of course, that he is elected and serves two full terms.

George W.Bush, of course, represents a particular kind of offence to European sensibilities. He blew out Kyoto, instead of pretending to care about it and then not implementing it, which is what our hypocrisies require. He took no exquisite pains to make us feel consulted. He invaded Iraq in the name of freedom and then somehow allowed torturers to photograph each other in the fallen dictator's house of tortures. He is not going to run Franklin Roosevelt a close race for nomination as the second greatest president of the US.

But even if he had been a half-Chinese ballet-loving Francophone, he would have been hated by some who should have loved him, for there isn't an American president since Eisenhower who hasn't ended up, at some point or other, being depicted by the world's cartoonists as a cowboy astride a phallic missile. It happened to Bill Clinton when he bombed Iraq; it will happen to Mr Obama when his reinforced forces in Afghanistan or Pakistan mistake a meeting of tribal elders for an unwise gathering of Taleban and al-Qaeda. Then the new president (or, if McCain, the old president) will be the target of that mandarin Anglo-French conceit that our superior colonialism somehow gives us the standing to critique the Yank's naive and inferior imperialism.

Often those who express their tiresome anti-Americanism will suggest, as do some of the more disingenuous anti-Zionists with regard to anti-Semitism - that they, of course, are not anti-American, and that no one really is. But, coming as I do from an Anti-American tradition that wasn't afraid to proclaim itself, I think I know where the corpses are interred. For example, the current production of Bernstein's Candide at the English National Opera is a classic of elite anti-Americanism, in which we are invited to laugh at the philistine invocation of “Democracy, the American Way and McDonald's”. The laughter that accompanied this feeble satire showed our proper understanding that we, the audience, had a proper concept of democracy, and would never soil ourselves with an Egg McMuffin.

This is why one of the regnant critiques of Chimpy McHitlerburton has never made much sense - Americans aren't disliked because we elected THE STUPIDEST MAN EVAH (and his minder Evil Dick); Americans are disliked because we are Americans. Currying favor with people who aren't going to like us anyway is a fool's errand, which is what Obama is on right now. In 2011 or so, the contrived goodwill he has been seeking this week won't matter a bit. And as Americans, we need to be clear-eyed about this. Especially a President Obama.


Daria said...

Looks like the Obama campaign and the media are in denial of their malady known as Premature Inauguration! ;)

Dr. Daria prescribes a healthy disregard of the main stream media along with a large conservative turnout this fall as the most effective treatment.

- D

Strolling Amok said...

"Americans aren't disliked because we elected THE STUPIDEST MAN EVAH (and his minder Evil Dick); Americans are disliked because we are Americans."
Yes of course our gulags and random wars have nothing to do with how we are perceived in the world. They hate us because of our freedom - like our freedom to arrest people without evidence, hold them without charges, and torture them just for fun. God bless America.
Send me a postcard from Fantasyland - sounds like you're having a nice time there.

Mark Heuring said...

The fantasty, SA, is assuming that goodwill toward the US will ever be more than transitory.

That's why I posted the full cite from the Times of London piece, including the shots at W.

And if you really think Gitmo is a gulag and that what's happening now is a "random war," then your argument can't be taken seriously. So I'll let it pass.

Strolling Amok said...

"Goodwill" between any two nations is always transitory. As the old saying has it: "Nations don't have friends, nations have interests". So what? Welcome to Earth, thats the way things work here.
And "My arguemnt can't be taken seriously"? Or do you mean you don't have a serious answer to it -aside from "Them furuners is pickin' on us agin, we gots to pro-tect the USofA"".
Explain to me exactly what the point was of invading a country that posed no credible threat to us and which we had effecivly contained since the first Gulf War.
And how exactly does Gitmo differ in your imagination from the gulag? Waiting in aticipation of your thoughtful, well reasoned answer.

Gino said...

its just a wiki away,SA.
wiki 'gulag' and the conditions there.
then compare that to gitmo. and be honest.

mark: many in the USA try to seek moral uppityness by apeing our euro non-bretheren in their disdain of america.
its the cool, intellectual thing to do.

i come from a family of euro immigrants. as a result, i know personally many within their orbit who come from other euro parts (immigrants tend to find commonality even when the migrant is from another side of the boat. my dad, for one example, has no close USA born friends. but many from germany, france, czechoslovakia, croatia, netherlands, italy).

they all say the same thing: jelousy drives euro hatred. but they dress it up in some twisted psudo-intellectual moral superiority bullshit that cant stand the test when informed arguments are exchanged for nice sounding platitudes.

their sins of euro nations are equal to ours on a good day, and far worse on an average day.

Mark Heuring said...

The Gulags were places where domestic enemies of the Soviet state were held, generally incommunicado, and were routinely tortured and killed. Just about everyone who has spent time at Gitmo was captured on a battlefield, but because these people were not uniformed combatants of a standing army, they aren't considered prisoners of war. No country has ever given POW status to such people and certainly no country has ever had its Supreme Court give habeus corpus rights to non-citizens. We could have taken a different approach and simply shot them instead. That's what most countries would do. But we didn't. That much alone blows a massive, irreparable hole in your argument, SA.

If you cannot understand the difference between a detention camp for people who have taken up arms against us, and who also do cool stuff like blow up innocent women and children and implement plans where jumbo jets are flown into buildings where thousands of innocent citizens work, you've lost all sense of proportion. If we were the kind of country that had gulags, and our current administration was the kind of regime that would use gulags, you'd be in one. But you're not, of course. And no one's going to put you in a gulag, good sir. You have pretty much the unlimited right to spew whatever nonsense you see fit, as do the thousands of other portside bloggers who routine issues similar calumnies. But I get to call bullshit on it. Because it is bullshit. Period. And you know it's bullshit, because you're smart enough to know the difference.

As for Saddam, you might recall that the original war in 1991 never officially ended. There was no truce, only a cessation of hostilities. Saddam was doing everything in his power to slip out of control. He was paying families $25,000 per suicide bomb and was harboring Abu Nidal, among others. He was circumventing and perverting the vaunted UN Oil for Food program. He had already killed somewhere in the neighborhood of a million of his countrymen. Have things turned out the way we might have expected in Iraq? Nope. But are things getting better? Yep. Even your bobo Obama has had to admit that much.

And finally, you are making my point when you say that nations don't have friends, nations have interests. Of course. Which is why I don't really have a hell of a lot time to care about whether or not the Europeans think well of me, or George Bush, or you, or anyone else. It's not particularly relevant. Which was the point I was making in the post, good sir.

Mark Heuring said...


Thank you. Spot on.


Gino said...

here's some more evidence of euro hate for america:


as you can see, the words dont exactly match the deeds.

Anonymous said...

Europe hates us because they want to be us. They once dominated the world and got to be the purveyors of disdain and torture. This basically ended when they started beating up each other (twice in the last century), and needed the United States to come in and save their butts. They hate because they don't get to dominate anymore, and they are jealous because of it.

It's a shame that greatest generation is quickly passing, because the spoiled quiche eaters that followed in both Europe and the United States don't seem to have a memory of this.

Equating Gitmo to the gulags is intellectually and morally lazy. That's like equating waterboarding to real torture like the tire neckties used by the African National Congress (a little tire, a lot of gasoline, and a match for those of you who are so busy celebrating Nelson Madela that they forget his groups tortuous past) or the savagery that's going on in Africa even as we speak. Where's the outrage there?????

A reminder, these combatants are not Americans, they are people who want to kill Americans. Dilletante is correct that most countries (including many of Strolling Amoks Euros) would have silenty tortured them and killed them with little or no publicity.