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November 10, 2010

Obama Gives Another One Of His Speeches To The World And Yeah, It’s Awful

I think the thing that strikes me the most about these speeches of his on foreign soil is that he seems far more comfortable extolling the virtues of a place like Indonesia than he does the United States. When he does talk about the US, it’s mostly in a way that lowers it or at the least fails to praise it.

Yesterday, President Yudhoyono and I announced a new Comprehensive Partnership between the United States and Indonesia. We are increasing ties between our governments in many different areas, and -- just as importantly -- we are increasing ties among our people. This is a partnership of equals, grounded in mutual interests and mutual respect.

Look, I get you have to do the diplomacy thing and make nice but it’s simply false to say that the US and Indonesia are equals. Aside from the massive disparity of the importance of the two countries to the world, do you know how we’re not equals? We’ve been a foreign aid donor to them for over 50 years. When you take charity from someone, you aren’t equals.

Again, I understand the need for diplomacy but lying and passing on an opportunity to point out the tangible role the US plays in keeping the place afloat is not advancing US interests.

Like any democracy, you have known setbacks along the way. America is no different. Our own Constitution spoke of the effort to forge a “more perfect union,” and that is a journey that we’ve traveled ever since. We’ve endured civil war and we struggled to extend equal rights to all of our citizens. But it is precisely this effort that has allowed us to become stronger and more prosperous, while also becoming a more just and a more free society.

America endured a civil war and fulfilled its promise that “all men are created equal”. Indonesia endured a three decades long brutal military dictatorship. Unless I’ve really missed something big in American history, there’s no way you can say America’s “setbacks” (whatever Obama imagines them to be) are “no different” than Indonesia’s. It is simply a lie to say they are in anyway similar. This goes beyond making Indonesians feel better about themselves and is simply attacking America by false comparison.

Obama then moved onto one of his favorite topics, Islam and the United States. Again, he seems far more comfortable talking up Islam than he ever does Christianity. As always, he is on the defensive when it comes to the conflict between American and Islam.

Just as individuals are not defined solely by their faith, Indonesia is defined by more than its Muslim population. But we also know that relations between the United States and Muslim communities have frayed over many years. As President, I have made it a priority to begin to repair these relations. (Applause.) As part of that effort, I went to Cairo last June, and I called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world -- one that creates a path for us to move beyond our differences.

I said then, and I will repeat now, that no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. But I believed then, and I believe today, that we do have a choice. We can choose to be defined by our differences, and give in to a future of suspicion and mistrust. Or we can choose to do the hard work of forging common ground, and commit ourselves to the steady pursuit of progress. And I can promise you -- no matter what setbacks may come, the United States is committed to human progress. That is who we are. That is what we’ve done. And that is what we will do. (Applause.)

Yes, he gets applauded because when he says he has made it “a priority to begin to repair” the relations between the US and Muslims, he’s really implying that we broke them so it’s up to us to fix them. This is simply not a line the President of the United States should be taking. If Obama is willing to listen to their apology or to their outreach efforts fine. It would even be appropriate to meet them halfway in some sort of gesture of good faith. But to imply we are responsible and must repair the relations? Insanity.

The problem is Obama only gives, he never asks anything in return. He says no one single speech can eradicate years of mistrust but where is that single speech from anyone in the Islamic world giving it a shot? When is the leader of Indonesia or Saudi Arabia or even Iraq going to come to the House of Representatives and say, “Islam is sick and we must heal it. We must move beyond stoning women to death. We must allow freedom of all religions in our countries. We must not foment hatred of non-Muslims in our schools. We need to get over the Jew hating”? Never, that’s when. Notice I didn’t even suggest terrorism be something they take responsibility for. That will forever be waved away as simply a problem caused by a “tiny minority who don’t represent any religion”. Let’s start with the things that are undeniably part of Islamic culture and governance and work our way up from there. Not that it will ever happen and it would never occur to Obama that it should.

Yet Obama, and to a degree Bush before him, will go around the world proclaiming that Islam is awesome and it’s all our fault. He will never demand outreach from those whose practices are so different and repellent to our own.

Meanwhile, we’ve made progress on one of our core commitments -- our effort to end the war in Iraq. Nearly 100,000 American troops have now left Iraq under my presidency. (Applause.) Iraqis have taken full responsibility for their security. And we will continue to support Iraq as it forms an inclusive government, and we will bring all of our troops home.

American on the walk back is always a sure applause line in another country. How about pointing out that the fact that we are leaving, as we said we would, shows that we are not crusading conquers and that those who said otherwise were liars? How about pointing out that our troops are leaving behind a fragile democracy which, for all its faults, is far superior to the brutal Hussein dictatorship? Seems the Indonesians would appreciate that given their own history. Not a word from the President on those subjects.

In the Middle East, we have faced false starts and setbacks, but we’ve been persistent in our pursuit of peace. Israelis and Palestinians restarted direct talks, but enormous obstacles remain. There should be no illusion that peace and security will come easy. But let there be no doubt: America will spare no effort in working for the outcome that is just, and that is in the interests of all the parties involved -- two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. That is our goal. (Applause.)

What? Why bring up Israel in the Indonesia? Oh right, because Obama buys into the notion that all Muslims really, really care about the Palestinians. It also plays into the Islmaists notion that if we just meet their very reasonable demands (we have nothing to do with the Mideast and throw Israel overboard) everything will be fine. Well, they want Spain too. But seriously, just give them a few tokens and it will be all alright!

Almost two years on and it is still amazing we have a President who will talk America down in a foreign country. He will never say a harsh word about people whose practices and actions are anathema to our own, quite the opposite in fact, but he will call fellow Americans “enemies”.

Obama is right, America has had setbacks to our democracy…his election was one of the biggest.

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posted by DrewM. at 12:36 PM

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