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Obama’s Boldness Transforms US Politics

From the inimitable E. J. Dionne, via the editorial pages of the Washington Post:

Who is Obama? Now we know.

By E.J. Dionne Jr., Published: May 4, 2011

Barack Obama is not the man many Americans thought he was. This sudden realization has transformed American politics.

The sheer audacity of the successful operation against Osama bin Laden has forced Obama’s friends and foes alike to reassess what they make of a chief executive who defies easy categorization and reveals less about himself than politicians are typically drawn to do.

Obama is hard to understand because he is many things and not just one thing. He has now proved that he can be bold at an operational level, even as he remains cautious at a philosophical level. His proclivity to gather facts and weigh alternatives does not lead automatically, in the venerable phrase, to the paralysis of analysis.

Really? Lest we forget, Mr. Obama dithered about sending more troops to Afghanistan for more than seven months. And how long did he vacillate over Libya?

And as to the Bin Laden decision, Mr. Obama was first apprised about the situation eight month ago. He then held at five national security meetings to discuss what to do about it.

Indeed, even after Leon Panetta told him it was finally time to act, he still needed another 16 hours to make his decision. — A decision that he really had no choice about.

In fact, in all of this, Obama’s only real options were whether to use special ops ground forces or bombs or drones. And his decision to put ground forces at risk is still open to debate.

It can also end in daring action tempered by prudence — for example, making sure that additional helicopters were available to our Navy SEALs.

You see? No one else would have thought to have back-up helicopters. Even though some who were involved in this mission were also involved in Jimmy Carter’s ill-fated ‘Desert One’ hostage rescue attempt.

The president’s rhetoric has often emphasized caring, compassion and community, the language one expects from a moderately liberal politician. Yet as one of his close aides told me long ago, there is inside a very cool, tough, even hard man. Obama is not reluctant to use American military power.

Libya has already proved that Mr. Obama is only too eager to put our military at risk, as long as no US interests are involved.

Moreover, the fact that Obama is supposed to have used US ground forces to avoid ‘collateral damage’ indicates he is maybe too "caring" about the wrong people.

He was not at all queasy about authorizing the killing of an American enemy and the disposal of the body at sea to ensure that there would be no memorial to rally bin Laden’s followers.

Why are we pretending that killing Bin Laden would be a hard decision? It should have been one of the easiest calls a President has ever be called upon to make. On the other hand, the ‘burial at sea’ seems to have been an idiotic choice in any number of ways.

Not to mention that dumping Bin Lladen’s body, along with withholding his photos, completely undercuts the claim that ground forces had to be used to prove to the world he had really been killed.

Obama told us who he is in one of the most celebrated statements he made — about the war in Iraq — before he ran for president. His listeners tended to pay far more attention to the war he criticized than to his reasons for criticizing it. “I am not opposed to all wars,” he declared in 2002. “I’m opposed to dumb wars.” Note when it comes to armed conflict, the word “dumb” is not typically part of the lexicon of a moralist.

What State Senator Obama said was: "What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income – to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics."

In other words, Mr. Obama claimed the war in Iraq was cooked up by Karl Rove to distract attention from a bad economy and a failing healthcare system. That it was political. Isn’t irony ironic?

The fact that Obama is not a moralist has led to many of the frustrations vented about him over the past 27 months. Liberals don’t get why it takes him so long to get around to taking on the political right over the fundamental purposes of government and the requirements of social justice. Advocates of democracy and human rights ask why he was so slow to invoke the word “democracy” as a touchstone of his foreign policy, and why he was so guarded in his initial response to the Arab Spring.

Mr. Obama is self-righteous. Which is not quite the same thing as being a "moralist." And it has nothing to do with being logically consistent or even competent. Besides, all of Mr. Obama’s actions have to do with his gaining or maintaining political power. Everything else is ‘optics.’

Supporters of a muscular and interventionist American foreign policy suspect him of believing that the decline of the United States is unavoidable and of seeing himself primarily as a steward whose task is to manage our steady loss of influence.

It is this last claim that took such a profound blow when Obama approved the operation against bin Laden and chose the riskiest option involving a face-to-face confrontation with American commandos — on the orders of the president of the United States.

You see? Sending some Navy SEALs to kill an unarmed and (we have been told for years) ineffectual Bin Laden has reversed America’s decline in the world. It has stopped Iran and North Korea dead in their tracks.

No one will ever defy American interest again by refusing to pump more oil. No one will ever speak of using a different currency than the dollar ever again.

Obama’s conceptual complexity means that he rejects the idea that there are just two alternatives: the United States as the world’s sole superpower or an America slinking off into weakness and irrelevance. Binary choices are not for him.

Mr. Obama is so brilliant he can see that there are sometimes more than just two options to a problem.

Instead, he sees a world in which new powers — China most obviously, but also India and, someday, Brazil — inevitably rise to challenge American dominance.

In fact, Mr. Obama has stated that he welcomes these countries replacing the US as the world’s power broker. After all, a world where China calls the shots will certainly be a better place.

The United States’ task is not to prevent the ineluctable emergence of other strong nations. Its [sic] imperative is to remain an enormously powerful force fully capable of shaping the globe’s new arrangements, defending its interests and values, and prospering in an ever more competitive environment.

And anyone who doubted our willingness to project our might as we see fit will have second thoughts after the events in Abbottabad.

You would never know from Mr. Obama’s policies that it is important the US should be able to defend its interests and values. But why was he against the war in Iraq again? And why was it necessary for us to intervene in Libya?

And why is he so eager to cut our defense spending to the bone? Why is he opposed to our developing our own domestic energy supplies?

This single action does not “change everything,” because nothing ever changes everything. Killing one man does not settle two messy wars. Obama’s political standing will ultimately rise or fall largely on the basis of domestic issues and economic circumstances.

It’s too late to try to walk back your previous paragraphs now, Mr. Dionne. The laughed laugh cannot be un-laughed.

The president’s supporters will again experience bouts of frustration when his philosophical caution prevails over his bold streak in the less martial work of negotiating budgets and promoting the general welfare at home.

If only he could sic the SEALs on his domestic opponents.

His opponents will not suddenly embrace his priorities.

Damn them.

But because he ordered this attack, and because it was successful, no one will ever view Barack Obama in quite the same way again.

Except us. And every other sentient being who is not distracted by shiny objects or the latest media makeover.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, May 5th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “Obama’s Boldness Transforms US Politics”

  1. TerryAnne says:

    It had been nice, seeing the media calm down on their Zero Love (the fawning, drooling, leg tingling, and just short of the sexual behavior preferred by the likes of Bawney that the media had imposed on us during the campaign). I guess 18 months is too short of a time for them not to ramp it back up again.

    While a lot of people are saying this will be short lived, our media has proven to be an elephant (never able to forget). They will keep ramming this down our throat and lacing it with fawn, pomp and fluff until the day he is re-sworn in his rightful position. They are not going to let this die…

  2. Enthalpy says:

    It’s a simple matter really: who did he run with? The treasonous press wouldn’t say, and Obama lied about it.

  3. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Steve, your between-the-lines analysis is always so enlightening. Saying the things the rest of us are thinking is somehow encouraging that there is some hope in the world. This particular article which has its author down on their knees, servicing chairman Obie is perhaps a perfect example of why America is ignoring the media, yet strangely drawn to it at the same time.

    But, fortunately, since the socialists are encouraging illiteracy, they are shooting themselves in the foot because in another ten years’ time or less, there won’t be anyone left who will be able to read the garbage put forth by the likes of E.J. Dionne. So, write away, E.J. and have no doubt that the number of people who can read your trash is diminishing fast. Ain’t socialism great?

  4. proreason says:

    This Dionne guy has the mentality of a palpitating 13 year-old girl.

    Obamy is the guy who told them to take back-up helicopters?

    I just can’t listen to this shit.

  5. tranquil.night says:

    Gosh, did he need a new keyboard because of all the drool after writing this desperate love letter?

  6. Right of the People says:

    What bugs me about the boy-in-chief is to take a line from the slobbering, leg-humper who wrote this drivel “The sheer audacity of the successful operation” the moron “mounted” proves he’s a man to paraphrase.

    I’m sure he had his finger on the pulse of this whole thing that’s why they had to drag him off the golf course to give the okay.

    It reminds me of the scene in Blazing Saddles where Hedley LaMare (Harvey Korman) interrupts the Governor’s (Mel Brooks) sexual interlude to get him to sign the papers to send Bart (Cleavon Little) to Rock Ridge as the sheriff. Mel Brooks shakes his head back and forth chanting “Work, work, work is all I do” while Korman places the document on the Governor’s secretary’s ample chest so he can find it then he tells him to go back to what he was doing as he takes his pants off and chases her behind the curtain.

    Looking at the pictures in the situation room, Barry and the Hildabeast have the saddest faces I’ve ever seen. Him because he’s wondering how he’s going to explain this to his Islamic buddies and her because it’s one less thing she can use against him. I’m willing to bet the Hildabeast is scheming to take down Panetta and Gates as I write this.

  7. Astravogel says:

    Well now, a NEW giant sucking sound…

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