The Obama Watch

Obama’s Off-Shore Banking

In Asia, he plays pander bear and last emperor.

By 11.19.09

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The White House tells reporters that America's relationship with China "is at an all-time high." Why? Are the Chinese impressed that Obama hires Marxists like Van Jones and admirers of Chairman Mao like Anita Dunn? No, the reason for the cozy relations is that America's debt to China has reached an all-time high, and so Obama had no choice but to play the pander bear in Asia though he would prefer to emulate its old emperors.

He offered gaudy praise of China's economy, "an accomplishment unparalleled in human history," and soft-pedaled its record on human rights. The same moral relativism which excuses the human rights abuse of abortion at home crept into his remarks abroad: "It's very important for the United States not to assume that what is good for us is automatically good for somebody else. We have to have some modesty about our attitudes towards other countries."

America needs to make "progress" too, he reassured the Chinese, asserting that "old-fashioned ideas about the role of women in society" continue to bedevil the U.S.  Suddenly, female feticide in China and reluctant housekeeping by American males were on the same moral plane.

Of much more interest to the Chinese than his musings on sexism is whether or not Obama can pay their loans back. While it may impress them in the abstract that his recently departed communications director counted Chairman Mao as one of her two favorite political philosophers, they would rather lend to reliable capitalists than aspiring Maoists.

According to Reuters, Chinese officials fear that Obama's socialist-style health care could cause their massive loans to go up in smoke.

"It turns out the Chinese are kind of curious about how President Barack Obama's healthcare reform plans would impact America's huge fiscal deficit. Government officials are using his Asian trip as an opportunity to ask the White House questions. Detailed questions," wrote James Pethokoukis. "Boilerplate assurances that America won't default on its debt or inflate the shortfall away are apparently not cutting it. Nor should they, when one owns nearly $2 trillion in assets denominated in the currency of a country about to double its national debt over the next decade."

During the trip Obama crowned himself the "first Pacific" president, having taken his first steps as a tot in Hawaii and spent quality time in Indonesia. But "First Pacific" sounds more appropriate as a name for his off-shore debt program.

George Bush Senior's trip to Asia is remembered for his episode of vomiting on its leaders at a state meal; Obama's will be remembered for bowing to them. His posturing took physical and moral form: bowing to the emperor of Japan, pandering to the bankers and tyrants of China.

The more undemocratic the ruler, the more deeply this self-described egalitarian president bows before them. Obama is committed to "equality" and forming a new world in its image, but almost literally trips over himself before Saudi princes and Asian emperors of ancient lineage.

The paradox is perhaps explained by his own taste for the trappings of power and the autocracy that lurks behind his egalitarianism. Grasping that his version of "equality" would require absolute power to achieve, Obama is easily awed before displays of it, even if only faded ones. He seems to envy the power of those unencumbered by democracy, a foreshadowing that the glorious new world he anticipates will more likely mirror the grimness of the old one.

His totalitarian hosts in China ludicrously serenaded him at a state dinner with the song, "We are the World." But Obama isn't interested in world democracy; he prefers to play its Caesar.

One of the photos used on the White House website from the trip captures his sense of self: Cleared of any one who might spoil the shot, he appears alone on the Great Wall, striding it solemnly in majestic solitude as the weight of the world rests on his shoulders.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.