Last year around this time, the left was predicting an omnipotent presidency that would usher in a new way of "being" on the planet. It has turned out to be a wilting and amateurish one, full of commonplace follies and tired initiatives.
The party-crasher story is emblematic of Obama's already diminished presidency. The most recent report about the party crashers adds a new layer to the farce: the party crashers can actually claim plausible and encouraging interactions with a "Pentagon official."
ABC casts the story in terms favorable to the White House: "E-Mails Show Salahis Never Got White House State Dinner Invite From Pentagon." But the real story is how close they came to receiving one. A "special assistant to the Secretary of Defense," Michele S. Jones, was "trying" to get them tickets and was "delighted" to hear that they eventually made it into the event.
The Salahis appear to have exploited the confusion of a potential invite adroitly, writing to Jones with comic aplomb: "We ended up going to the gate to check in at 6:30 p.m. to just check, in case it got approved, since we didn't know, and our name was indeed on the list! We are very grateful, and God bless you. We just got home, and we had a very wonderful evening as you can imagine!"
If Obama's Pentagon can get outwitted by the Salahis, what hope does it have against members of the Taliban?
Obama's speech to West Point cadets was about as confidence-inspiring as his state dinner. He is lucky only a few of them dozed off. No doubt many of them felt Joe Wilson-style incredulity.
Unable to follow the courage of his left-wing convictions and bring soldiers home immediately, he subjects their fate to a politicized half-gesture. "I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan," he said, before undercutting the sincerity of that determination by saying in the very next line that in eighteen months the troops would be coming home.
Narrating the drama and agony of his decision -- I do not make this decision lightly" -- seemed of more interest to him than comprehending the substance and duration of the threat. How does he already know that in eighteen months the threat will cease to exist?
To stay longer than that time frame would constitute "a nation-building project," he said. But that doesn't follow; it would simply mean that the threat still existed. And besides, it seems like the nation-building elements of the venture appeal to Obama the most. He promised to "focus our assistance in areas, such as agriculture, that can make an immediate impact in the lives of the Afghan people." He would much rather be sending community organizers to Afghanistan than troops.
Perhaps the most revealing passage in the speech touched on his philosophy of the federal government in which he made it clear that he considers national defense not its core function but just one among many functions at the service of big government.
"As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests. And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces. I don't have the luxury of committing to just one," he said.
Well, he could if he restricted himself to his constitutional duties. But, no, socializing the health care industry is apparently just as much of an essential presidential duty as defeating America's enemies.
He said in the "past several years" that "we've failed to appreciate the connection between national security and our economy." By "economy," he means the federal government. He wants to spend less on national defense and more on ballooning the size of domestic federal programs that shouldn't exist in the first place.
His most honest comment in the speech appeared in the line, "the nation that I'm most interested in building is our own." Too true. He seeks to build a new America, but as his bungled state dinner suggests its glory will be cheap and illusory.
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