Wednesday, April 15, 2009

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Politics: The Obama Mess

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

This is a political treatise, a bit of a departure from our standard Jewish religious fare.

In the book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell describes the "Warren Harding Mistake". In essence, because President Warren Harding seemed so presidential, he was given a pass on issues and investigation as a presidential candidate. He was easily elected on the basis of his appearance, voice and intonation. In other words, he looked like a president and spoke like a president, a handsome and classy one at that. Because of these unconscious factors, people didn't actually delve into _what_ he said. He looked, sounded and acted presidential, his opponent did not. He won, and won by a massive landslide.

Harding is considered, by scholars of such things, to have been the worst president in US history. His leadership skills were weak, his policies empty.

Barak Obama came on the scene at a time that the majority of the American people were disgruntled with the current president. While he pushed strong policies - many of them overly partisan and not thoroughly thought out or reactions to a violently changing world - Bush was consistently derided as stupid. He was ridiculed as such by the press for 8 years straight.

Enter Obama, the intellectual. He spoke eloquently and promised a new path. The electorate was not pleased with the current path and had been dealing with a president that was ineloquent at best. He looked presidential, tall and confident. He was also young and vibrant, with a president who was tired and an opponent who was old. His opponent did not look very presidential in comparison, and was not particularly eloquent either.

Obama won, not quite by a landslide but by a significant margin.

Few seriously examined his expressed policies, and those who did found them vapid and wanting. As the rumblings of the financial crisis arose, his pre-election policy was essentially "we'll fix that". His major drive was "we'll change things". Conservative pundits noticed that the policy depth was not much more than 3 words long, but the general press was taken in by the same 'he's the most presidential and therefore most trustworthy' UNCONSCIOUS factors that 88 years earlier.

Hence he was elected without a serious examination of his policies and politics, a junior senator EARLY in his first term who had previously been a local politician. If such a selection occurred during a quiet prosperous period for the United States, perhaps the impact would have been unpleasant and annoying. As instead it's happening during a period of the United States at war on multiple fronts, world political realignment, and the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, the lack of experience, empty policies, weak leadership and strong partisan positions may very well cause the United States massive damage - perhaps even to the point of permanently losing it's world leadership position.

Actually, there is little doubt that that will be one of the early impacts. As Caroline Glick described so well in her article "Surviving in a Post American World", the Obama administration has implemented a direct policy of alienating national friends & allies, and encouraging national enemies. While they may be hoping by doing so to create a new relationship with those enemies, so far such steps have emboldened those enemies and weakened allies. One can naturally assume that all US allies are currently evaluating steps to take to reduce or eliminate reliance on the US in favor of new multi-point global relationships.

Such a relationship change is not recoverable. While a few short years ago there was a discussion of how the US could solidify it's position as a world power, the new "Rome" so to speak, nowadays the question is whether the US will continue to be taken seriously as a power at all. While Rome's hegemony lasted over 500 years, the United State's lasted 64.

The latest news, and a real surpriser at that, is of the Department of Homeland Security releasing an emergency reporting alerting police forces nationwide of the threat of domestic terrorism from "Right Wing Radicals", including such dangerous groups as Veterans returning from Iraq, Pro-2nd Amendment Gun Groups, .... Note what's not included, Islamic terrorism foreign or domestic, threats from radical states such as North Korea, groups such as Al Queda or the Taliban. By the way, if you actually read the report you'll find it's 100% fear mongering, and even says repeatedly "there is no threat today, but there could be, so crack down early".

For our Jewish readers (we assume the majority as it's a Jewish blog), the government article notes, "Anti-Semitic extremists attribute these losses to a deliberate
conspiracy conducted by a cabal of Jewish “financial elites." These “accusatory” tactics are employed to draw new recruits into right wing extremist groups and further radicalize those already subscribing to extremist beliefs." So my dear Jewish friends, YOU are the cause of white supremacist growth in the US!

"Many right wing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use." FYI dear Homeland Security, many CITIZENS are concerned about these issues. That used to be called free speech and political voice, now it's called "reaching out to a wider audience of potential sympathizers".

Net net, we have a new US presidential administration alienating and weakening national allies, cozying up to national enemies - so far completely rebuffed by said enemies, completely fumbling the financial crisis and probably destroying Wall Street and the US financial engine in the process, trying to start a class war against the rich - who suddenly include anyone making above an average income, and coming out against those disagree as possible extremists to be watched and guarded against.

While the Bush administration made many mistakes, primarily in overreaching both in political programs and the war, the Obama administration seems to be headed for top of the worst president in US history list even before they've finished their first year. And Malcolm Gladwell may have to retitle the "Warren Harding Mistake" as the "Barak Obama Mistake".

And may G-d help us all from the world chaos this administration's actions are invoking.

Part of what spawned the idea for this treatise was some emails I received about Tea Parties - tax and government protests - scheduled for New Jersey. My advice for the organizers is: make sure you have some constitutional lawyers on your team and lined up in advance. DO NOT be shocked at unusually strong government response. The new administration clearly is going to take steps to prevent this from building.

(Photo courtesy of "Betsy Ross" from the Newark, NJ Tea Party)

7 comments:

Devash said...

"And may G-d help us all from the world chaos this administration's actions are invoking."

Do you doubt that it is all by design and according to the Master's plan? It is ALL GOOD! It is a necessary step towards the geulah shleimah.

Shiloh said...

Devash is correct. It is haShem's plan. How better can Ishmael and Esav merge then through His agent Hussein Obama. How long must we wait?

just me said...

My husband and I have been seeing this coming. What you say is unfortunately truth- we spoke only amonst ourselves.

Devash, it's Hashem's Plan. But I will be honest, I worry about all of my family not living in Israel. (this is the majority)

Our help is from Adoshem, Maker of heaven and earth.

Shiloh said...

just you, don't worry, haShem has given us the answer before the problem exists. We just have to wait for a litte more heat on Israel. Seems not so far off.

Anonymous said...

I don't see any of the things happening that you or Caroline Glick are mentioning. Name one ally that Obama has alienated, Apart from the incoming Netanyahu government. Seriously! Meanwhile, contrast to our former rpesident, who absolutely alienated the US from our European allies, a good chunk of our middle eastern allies apart from Israel, made the situation in North Korea WORSE... The majority of Americans are happy with Obama's performance so far. Myself included. Shabbat shalom.

Akiva said...

Anonymous - Shavua Tov

Alienated:

England, politically insulting the prime minister and then the queen during face to face meetings, improper protocol, requesting more troop support when they provide more than all other allies together.

Poland, by changing position on deployment of missile shield, since which Poland has announced troop withdrawals from Lebanon UNIFIL and Iraq.

NATO, by supporting Turkey's position on new secretary general over all other members.

Japan, by turning OFF the X-band radar station prior to North Korea's missile launch, and then backing off criticism of the launch.

Israel, no explanation necessary.

How's that for a start?

Anonymous said...

England- tempest in a teapot. There is no chance that the US has alienated itself from the UK as a result of any supposed protocol missteps or overreaching requests so far. No chance whatsoever. The "special relationship" lives on.

Poland- The US is refocusing its attention on repairing relations with Russia and avoiding a new cold war. If Poland is offended by this then too bad. The key danger/challenge is Putin and Obama/Clinton will have their hands full with him.

NATO countries. These are the US's closest allies and I have not seen significant moves away from the US as a result of Obama's election and subsequent policy decisions. Quite the contrary. They are being asked to participate more in Afghanistan, and they don't want to do this. But in the end I think they will participate.

Japan- Everyone knows that the US and our allies have been monitoring the NK missile launch VERY CLOSELY. The X-band radar is very powerful but it is not the only way to track these missiles. I have no idea why Gates didn't want to use the X-band radar, but at the same time, I haven't seen evidence of any diplomatic row between Japan and the US over this.

Obama is still in his honeymoon phase at home and abroad. The world has judged the Bush presidency to be a total failure, and Obama's break with the policies of the past promises something different. We can hope it will lead to better results.

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