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June 22, 2009

Obama: A Man Tyrants Can Do Business With

Andy McCarthy pokes around in Obama's psychology, and comes out with an unflattering portrait.

The key to understanding Obama, on Iran as on other matters, is that he is a power-politician of the hard Left : He is steeped in Leftist ideology, fueled in anger and resentment over what he chooses to see in America's history, but a "pragmatist" in the sense that where ideology and power collide (as they are apt to do when your ideology becomes less popular the more people understand it), Obama will always give ground on ideology (as little as circumstances allow) in order to maintain his grip on power.

It would have been political suicide to issue a statement supportive of the mullahs, so Obama's instinct was to do the next best thing: to say nothing supportive of the freedom fighters. As this position became increasingly untenable politically, and as Democrats became nervous that his silence would become a winning political round for Republicans, he was moved grudgingly to burble a mild censure of the mullah's "unjust" repression — on the order of describing a maiming as a regrettable "assault," though enough for the Obamedia to give him cover. But expect him to remain restrained and to continue grossly understating the Iranian regime's deadly response. That will change only if, unexpectedly, it appears that the freedom-fighters may win, at which point he'll scoot over to the right side of history and take all conceivable credit.

I think Victor had this right on Saturday: "Obama is almost more at ease with virulent anti-Westerners, whose grievances Obama has long studied (and perhaps in large part entertained)," (though I'd have omitted the "almost"). Mark Steyn made the same point in a post last week (about a Robert Kagan column that Pete Wehner also discussed).

It's a mistake to perceive this as "weakness" in Obama. It would have been weakness for him to flit over to the freedom fighters' side the minute it seemed politically expedient. He hasn't done that, and he won't. Obama has a preferred outcome here, one that is more in line with his worldview, and it is not victory for the freedom fighters. He is hanging as tough as political pragmatism allows, and by doing so he is making his preferred outcome more likely. That's not weakness, it's strength — and strength of the sort that ought to frighten us.

He did something very similar when Russia invaded Georgia, burbling some nonsense about both sides needing to stop the violence. When a cautious statement of support for a democratic country would have actually gained him a bit politically. As well as, you know, being the right thing to do.

Only when his friendly-to-invaders statement was criticized by McCain did he manage to say something nice about freedom and sovereignty and so forth.

Thanks to DrewM.

Michael Barrone on Obama: Dodge Facts, Skip the Details, Govern Chicago-Style: Sounds about right. Here's the bit about dodging facts:

First, Obama likes to execute long-range strategies but suffers from cognitive dissonance when new facts render them inappropriate. His 2008 campaign was a largely flawless execution of a smart strategy, but he was flummoxed momentarily when the Russians invaded Georgia and when John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. On domestic policy, he has been executing his long-range strategy of vastly expanding government, but may be encountering problems as voters show unease at huge increases on spending. His long-range strategy of propitiating America’s enemies has been undercut by North Korea’s missile launches and demonstrations in Iran against the mullah regime’s apparent election fraud. His assumption that friendly words could melt the hearts of Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been refuted by events. He limits himself to expressing “deep concern” about the election in the almost surely vain hope of persuading the mullahs to abandon their drive for nuclear weapons, while he misses his chance to encourage the one result — regime change — that could protect us and our allies from Iranian attack.



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posted by Ace at 02:01 PM

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