The Obama Watch

The Obama Watch

The President’s Breakfast Crusade

By 2.7.15

A couple sentences in President Obama’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, typically a benignly feel-good event, ignited great controversy.

Citing ISIS horrors, Obama added:

And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.

The reference ignited charges that Obama was comparing Christianity to ISIS, and responses that Obama critics were whitewashing the Crusades and maybe even white racism.

In the latter spirit, an Atlantic columnist berated the “foolish, historically illiterate” reaction to Obama’s prayer speech:

The Obama Watch

Selective Alarmism

By 2.4.15

White House adviser John Podesta has called changing weather an “almost existential threat” to the planet. In his State of the Union address, President Obama proclaimed that “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”

Islamic terrorism, on the other hand, is manageable, according to Obama. He told CNN recently that he is determined to keep a “proper perspective” on it. He said that he will not “provide a victory to these terrorist networks by overinflating their importance and suggesting in some fashion that they are an existential threat to the United States or the world order.”

The Obama Watch

Moving the Goal Posts

By 2.3.15

When is a deal not a deal? When it’s with Barack Obama. On Monday, President Obama announced his fiscal 2016 budget with a whopping 7 percent increase in federal spending. That breaks a deal he signed with Congress back in 2011. In exchange for permission to hike federal borrowing by a whopping $2.1 trillion — the biggest ever debt-ceiling hike in history — Obama agreed to automatic limits on federal spending. Now Obama’s had enough of “mindless austerity,” and wants to undo “the arbitrary across-the-board cuts known as ‘the sequester.’”

Reneging is Obama’s middle name. He’s repeatedly promised never to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000. But his budget would skewer them. Obama says he wants to “eliminate the trust fund loophole” and “ make sure everyone pays their fair share.” What he calls a loophole is the increased value of your Mom-and-Pop business or that three-bedroom colonial you bought thirty years ago for $80,000 that’s now worth many times that.

The Obama Watch

Condolence Diplomacy and American Respect

By 1.30.15

It is nice to see Michelle Obama sticking up for women’s rights in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The First Lady, accompanying her husband on a condolence call at the Saud’s for the lately departed King Abdullah, wore a decidedly unorthodox outfit, by the standards of the Wahhabi religious branch of Islam which prevails in the kingdom and, with regard to ordinary residents, is enforced with some rigor. Your average Saudi woman could set herself up for a legal whipping if she went outside dressed like Mrs. Obama.

Observe that in our country women have been known to set themselves up for whupping for comparable offenses, as well as for other reasons. I happen to know a woman of the same ethnocultural background as the First Lady, whose husband disapproved of her wedding attire, perhaps a bit provocative but then she had the assets. He wrecked their marriage right then and there.

The Obama Watch

Obama Slams the Door on Congress

By 1.29.15

Obama has effectively slammed the door on his last two years in office. In last week’s State of the Union, he explicitly, implicitly, and thoroughly rebuffed everyone who does not agree with him. In contrast to what many have said, his dismissal went beyond being partisan to being personal.

To understand what Obama did in his latest State of the Union, we must appreciate that these addresses are far more than speeches, they are events. Other than the parties’ presidential convention acceptance speeches and Inaugural addresses, this is the nation‘s biggest political platform. Only the president gets this unique opportunity, and he gets it just once a year.

Occasionally the event is heightened further by the circumstances surrounding it. This was such a year. Republicans now fully control Congress and Obama enters his presidency’s final stretch. Obama had the opportunity to formally set the tone, for both the remainder of his presidency and Washington’s new political dynamic. Instead of setting it, he lowered it — and with it, expectations for what Washington can accomplish over the next two years.

The Obama Watch

The President’s ‘Yo Mama’ Diplomacy

By 1.28.15

“Yo mama” (from urbandictionary.com):

A term that precedes an inventive insult to the other person’s mother. 1. “Yo mama” so fat, she have to go downstairs sideways. 2. “Yo mama” so fat when she sits on a rainbow skittles fall out.

Back in the days when guys in the ‘hood actually respected their moms, these words were an invitation to fight, notes the Urban Dictionary. Presumably, the Bloods and the Crips (are these guys still around or am I dating myself?) shouted insults at each other until someone started shooting. Remember the World Cup soccer game in the summer of ’06 when Italy’s Materazzi called France’s Zidane something like “son of a terrorist whore” and Zidane’s headbutting response incurred a penalty that caused France to lose the Cup?

The Obama Watch

Delayed Reaction

By 1.23.15

It took me a couple of days to summon the strength to watch President Obama’s seventh State of the Union Address (the sixth if you don’t count his 2009 address to a joint session of Congress); the speech was an hour-long exercise in deception, hypocrisy, and narcissism — which is to say it was more of the same from the most insular and self-absorbed politician of our generation, a man who never stops campaigning.

Within the first seconds of his long-winded address, the president, missing only a cone-shaped hat and a magic wand in his attempt to recast reality, said that while the first part of the 21st century was replete with terrorism and economic turmoil, “tonight, we turn the page.”

The Obama Watch

Obama’s Strange Iran Negotiations

By 1.20.15

Two senators, Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Bob Menendez, have authored a bill to impose tougher economic sanctions on Iran if it ultimately refuses to honor the demands of the international community as regards its nuclear weapons program. President Barack Obama has now pledged to veto that bill. A few points to consider before trying to make sense of this news:

1. Obama himself has said inducing Iran to surrender its capability to produce nuclear weapons will be a difficult task; an understatement if ever there was one.

2. We are to believe that sanctions can work as a means of harnessing the behavior of an irrational actor like Iran, and we’re told specifically that sanctions helped bring the Iranians to the negotiating table.

3. States like Iran — ones that are unburdened by the niceties of Western diplomacy — negotiate on the basis of ruthless pressure. We saw an example of this when the Cubans used an imprisoned American aid worker as a hostage to secure favorable negotiating terms. To sit down across the negotiating table from such people requires the willingness to apply hard pressure in kind.

The Obama Watch

What Was the President Thinking?

By 1.14.15

If there were one word to describe President Obama’s behavior in office, particularly in foreign affairs, it might be “detached.” It is hard to know his thought process in not attending the massive rally against Islamist jihad and anti-Semitism in Paris earlier this week — when 40 world leaders including President Francois Hollande of France, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas took to the streets of Paris to protest the barbarism of those forces. They joined up to three million people according to a French media estimate. One can only speculate as to President Obama’s reasoning, but some logic might go like this:

Those world leaders are not my peers. I have no peers. I am the president of the United States. I do not walk arm in arm with anyone. I do not like those optics. I will not compete on the world stage with other heads of state. I am not Charlie either. I am Barack Obama. Je suis Barack Obama.

The Obama Watch

New Year’s Irresolution

By 1.13.15

President Barack Obama’s absence from the great gathering in Paris of national leaders from other countries, to show their solidarity with France in its opposition to Islamic terrorists, was another sign of the Obama administration’s continuing irresolution in the face of terror.

Even the recent courageous message of Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, calling on his fellow Muslims around the world to “revolutionize” the interpretation of Islam, to make it more compatible with peaceful relations with other peoples, put no steel in the spine of Barack Obama.

From his earliest days in the White House, our president has downplayed the terrorist threat from Islamic extremists. He declared victory as he pulled American troops out of Iraq, setting the stage for a huge defeat when ISIS moved in to create their own new government, on both Iraqi and Syrian soil — while committing atrocities against men, women, and children not seen since the days of the Nazis.

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