At Large

Simple Minded

In remarks directed at Moammar Gaddafi, our president has nothing more to offer than another dollop of condescension.

By 8.23.11

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In a moment of high drama, rebel forces pounded their way into Tripoli, Lebanon, but could not find Colonel Gaddafi. This was primarily because he had cleverly listed himself in the phone book under one of his many aliases: Khadafy, Qaddafi, Mister Rogers et al. How can you find a guy's name if you are not even sure which letter in the alphabet to look under? But the rebels are gradually figuring things out and were very gracious when told the Tripoli they want is actually in Libya.

One reason why these boys are so understanding is that they themselves belong to Militants Anonymous. They reserve the right to withhold whether or not they are members of a brotherhood like the Muslim or the Elks. If we let them be our bodyguard we can be their long lost pal, but can we call them Al, as in Al Qaeda? Are they interested in crafting a peace or in carving the country to pieces? Will they continue their live-in relationship with Hillary Clinton or will they go out to play the field?

In any case, the situation was both ripe with possibility and rife with trepidation, so President Obama was reached using special links set up in Martha's Vineyard. Barack ("Call me Tiger") peered thoughtfully into the middle distance like Bogey, then putted a double bogey. Disgusted, he dashed off a statement to be released immediately to the press, a statement notable for its… well, I won't try to influence you by characterizing it in advance.

HERE IS WHAT HE SAID (this is the morning statement, not the official afternoon version): "The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple. Moammar Qadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end. Qadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all." (He triply needs?)

In analyzing this statement, we do not have to engage in elaborate deconstruction to discover the poison pill amid what should be a sweet victory for the United States. As a humble observer, one citizen among three hundred million, I ask a sim…, er, an elementary question.

What possible benefit -- logical, psychological, personal, ethical, intellectual, diplomatic, military -- could accrue to the United States or to Libya or to the process by telling a man that to give up his job after forty-two years is a "simple" way to handle things? The language is -- simply! -- odd.

This is nothing new in the Obamaniac lexicon. Since winning election in November 2008, Obama has assured us that the solutions to health care and to immigration and to abortion and to stem-cell research are all simple. In the case of Middle East peace, something which has eluded the planet since time immemorial, he has said more than once that the solution is simple and that, moreover, "everyone knows" what has to be done.

Still, in a moment of academic detachment, when speaking of real problems as intellectual abstractions, this brand of conceit can be swallowed. Saying it in a statement hurled into the midst of an active crisis, in a statement which is theoretically designed for delivery to Gaddafi himself, is nothing less than a form of sociopathology.

Look, I admit that I am not trained in the fine art of negotiating with hostage-takers or with people on ledges, but I feel I can assert with confidence that you do not tell them that the answer is simple. Moammar Gaddafi may be a world-class creep with both local and international blood on his hands, but his predicament is anything but simple. If we hope to prevail upon his better angels, such as they are, the preferred method is not by wondering in a snit of condescension why he cannot see the oh-so-simple solution right in front of his eyes.

I knew kids like that in school, but I was careful not to keep on knowing them after we had left school. It is hard enough navigating the deep waters of life without some egotistical Brainiac sneering at me about how "simple" it is to steer my way to safety.

Shocking though it is to feel nostalgic for John Kerry, at least his egomania took the form of his insistence that we were the simpletons and only he had nuance. Now it turns out that we are complicating matters unnecessarily and the Golfer-in-Chief has them all reduced to simple formulas. This is enough to drive me into the arms of Michele Bachmann. At least she admits these issues are complex enough to give her migraines. Now that I can respect.

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About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.