President Obama Getting The Respect He Deserves

by Melissa Clouthier | February 9, 2009 10:22 am

I’m completely flummoxed. Where to start? In a couple weeks, Barack Obama has managed to prove far more destructive than I could have imagined possible. Not only has his form been careless, dismissive, petty, and unpresidential, his substance will fundamentally transform the country in a horrible way. It’s like the destroyer train has left the station and nothing will stop it.

I fear for America. Countries who should respect us already treat President Obama with scorn. From Powerline, the laughable notion of “Smart Power”:

Nor is Ahmadinehad an outlier. Abe Greenwald observes that Russia has reacted to Vice President Biden’s overtures with similar disdain. “Today,” reports Greenwald, “Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov praised Vice President Joe Biden’s recent kind words for Russia before making Biden seem foolish for ever uttering them.” Greenwald is referring to this AP account of the Deputy Prime Minister’s reaction to Talkin’ Joe’s overtures:

“The U.S. administration sent a very strong signal, and the signal was heard-a signal that says they’re ready to resume the Russian and U.S. dialogue frankly and openly,” Ivanov told a news conference on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

But he said Russia did not feel it necessary to immediately reciprocate.

“It is not an Oriental bazaar,” he said. “And we do not trade the way people do in the bazaars.”

Greenwald’s dry conclusion is: “I guess Ivanov didn’t get the memo about ‘smart power.'” My conclusion is that Ivanov got the memo and understood the real meaning of this pseudo-concept.

Again, the Left would howl with derision at such a blatant slap to George W. Bush (not that countries dared such slaps, but individuals did. Remember how funny the Left found the Sunni Baathist shoe-thrower? Well, he has no power. Ivanov and Ahmedinejad have power to harm). I don’t find these verbal insults funny. They reveal a contempt for weakness.

Barack Obama makes a classic mistake, characteristic of those who have spent their lives in academia rather than the real world–he believes that his theories actually work. He fundamentally misunderstands human nature. He fundamentally misunderstands cultural character. Even more, he displays the sort of hubris so often attributed to George W. Bush–that is, he assumes that our enemies have an American sensibility. If it makes rational sense to an American leader, it should also make sense for a Russian or Iranian. By not acknowledging that some people respond only to strength, he reveals the naivité Hillary Clinton referred.

This ignorance has real-world implications. When Al Qaeda attacked on 9/11, I don’t think they believed George W. Bush and the American people had the will to fight. They were in for a rude awakening. George W. Bush was not afraid to retaliate. This was unexpected. By the end of his eight years in office, though, our enemies did not underestimate George W. Bush. Different regimes realized that attacks would exact a price. It caused them to consider.

Now, President Obama is being tested. He looks weak. And so, other countries feel free to disrespect him. Eventually their verbal taunts will turn into action. And it won’t be long. This is worrying.

Worse, in the short term, is the disrespect President Obama is engendering at home. And I’m not talking about the critical, shrieking hysteria directed at George W. Bush by a small section of the populace. And I’m not talking about the frustration of his own party at Georg Bush’s inability to communicate and his turn against conservative principles. Dislike is not the same as disrespect. We can like and dislike a person based on our mood. Emotions like respect and love are more difficult to acquire and more valuable.

President Obama is losing respect from his countrymen during a fragile time. When the government payouts come in at around 9.7 TRILLION[1], Americans stagger at the numbers. Charles Krauthammer[2] writes a devastating piece today in the Washington Post listing his betrayals:

AND YET more damaging to Obama’s image than all the hypocrisies in the appointment process is his signature bill: the stimulus package. He inexplicably delegated the writing to Nancy Pelosi and the barons of the House. The product, which inevitably carries Obama’s name, was not just bad, not just flawed, but a legislative abomination.

It’s not just pages and pages of special-interest tax breaks, giveaways and protections, one of which would set off a ruinous Smoot-Hawley trade war. It’s not just the waste, such as the $88.6 million for new construction for Milwaukee Public Schools, which, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, have shrinking enrollment, 15 vacant schools and, quite logically, no plans for new construction.

It’s the essential fraud of rushing through a bill in which the normal rules (committee hearings, finding revenue to pay for the programs) are suspended on the grounds that a national emergency requires an immediate job-creating stimulus – and then throwing into it hundreds of billions that have nothing to do with stimulus, that Congress’ own budget office says won’t be spent until 2011 and beyond, and that are little more than the back-scratching, special-interest, lobby-driven parochialism that Obama came to Washington to abolish. He said.

Not just to abolish but to create something new – a new politics where the moneyed pork-barreling and corrupt logrolling of the past would give way to a bottom-up, grass-roots participatory democracy. That is what made Obama so dazzling and new. Turns out the “fierce urgency of now” includes $150 million for livestock insurance.

The Age of Obama begins with perhaps the greatest frenzy of old-politics influence peddling ever seen in Washington. By the time the stimulus bill reached the Senate, reports The Wall Street Journal, pharmaceutical and high-tech companies were lobbying furiously for a new plan to repatriate overseas profits that would yield major tax savings. California wine growers and Florida citrus producers were fighting to change a single phrase in one provision. Substituting “planted” for “ready to market” would mean a windfall garnered from a new “bonus depreciation” incentive.

Already, I’m wondering how Barack Obama gets it back. He will not be given the grace George W. Bush received about 9/11. America, then, was asleep. We were lulled into complacency and the attack shocked everyone. A terrorist attack on America now would still be shocking but for different reasons. We should know better. Not that every attack can be prevented, but a President better look and sound authoritative and command respect and seem intent on putting American’s safety first. People must perceive this to be the case. Foreign leaders certainly don’t perceive this.

Americans see the broken promises after the sweeping hope and change rhetoric. With Obama’s meteoric rise, he has much further to fall. And he’s falling quicker than I every imagined. And it is not a good thing.

Cross-posted at[3]. Please join me for more conversation on Twitter[4].

  1. 9.7 TRILLION:
  2. Charles Krauthammer:
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