Last week, President Barack Obama rejected the world's most powerful living symbol of anti-communism, anti-Sovietism, and victory in the Cold War. The White House declined to have Lech Walesa stand in for the late Jan Karski, who posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Our president spurned Walesa, first president of free Poland, who had once risked everything to courageously join Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II in keeping Solidarity alive in Poland. Like Reagan and John Paul II, Walesa knew that Solidarity could be the wedge to split the Communist Bloc from top to bottom, as it indeed did, thereby making possible elections in Poland in June 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the execution of Ceausescu on Christmas Day 1989, the liberation of Eastern Europe en masse, and peaceful victory in the Cold War.
Obama's snubbing of Walesa follows several peculiar actions that upset the people of Poland. On September 17, 2009, he canceled plans for a joint missile defense system between the United States and Poland, one of our most dependable post-Cold War NATO allies. Obama did so for pro-Russian reasons. His action on that particular date was stunning: It was precisely 70 years to the day, September 17, 1939, when Russia invaded Poland, in compliance with the sinister Hitler-Stalin Pact. Poles certainly noticed the irony.
Obama's snubbing of Walesa also follows his recent private assurance to Dmitri Medvedev and Vladimir Putin -- inadvertently caught on tape by an open mic -- that, in regard to missile defense and nuclear issues, he would "have more flexibility" "after my election." In other words, more pro-Russia steps at Poland's expense.
Obama's snubbing of Walesa also came alongside a terrible gaffe about "Polish death camps."
Obama's staff seems surprised that Poles reacted so suspiciously to Obama's gaffe. Gee, I wonder why they're suspicious….
To me, none of this is a surprise. And it's also uniquely in line with the thinking of Obama's mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, a stalwart pro-Soviet, CPUSA member (card no. 47544), who, in his propaganda columns for Communist Party organs like the Chicago Star, defended Yalta and the Soviet takeover of Poland and other Eastern European countries. Davis attempted to argue that Stalin was creating "new democracies" in Poland and the Communist Bloc, and insisted that Eastern Europeans were welcoming the Soviets with open arms. He blasted U.S. policies like NATO and the Marshall Plan.
There's so much that could be said about Obama's snub of Walesa. It truly is enlightening. But two things stand out to me, especially in light of the fact that we Americans have a historic election coming up this November 2012, arguably the most pivotal since November 1980:
Shortly after the election of 1980, when Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter, a fearless Lech Walesa stood on a snowy, windswept plain on the outskirts of Gdansk and spoke openly about the U.S. election and its effect on the world. "It was intuition, perhaps," he said, "but one year ago I envisioned what would happen. Reagan was the only good candidate in your presidential campaign, and I knew he would win." Walesa spoke presciently that December day: "Someday the West will wake up and you may find it too late, as Solzhenitsyn has written. Reagan will do it better…. He will make the U.S. strong and make it stand up."
Lech Walesa foresaw Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America."
What did a young Barack Obama think of that election, of that dawn of a new day in America, of that change in the national mood for the better -- and not just for America, but for Poland, for the Communist Bloc, for the world, for freedom, for history? Obama told us the answer in his memoirs. In chapter 7 of Dreams from My Father, Obama described his arrival in Chicago, the step in his sojourn that would change his life and America's. The ambitious Obama employed the word "change" seven times, including the need for "Change in the White House, where Reagan and his minions [emphasis added] were carrying on their dirty deeds."
Obama was not exactly inspired by Reagan's election. Obama was the anti-Walesa. "Reagan was on his way in," Obama sniffed, "morning in America."
Obama perceived an America that needed a "change in the mood of the country." Ronald Reagan's "morning in America" needed change.
This is a mesmerizing insight into Obama's ideology and political mind. Consider: Even among liberal academics and journalists, both at the time and today, there is a consensus that among President Reagan's greatest achievements was his dramatic change in the mood of the nation, and decidedly for the better, lifting up America and restoring its sagging morale after the years of Carter and Watergate and Vietnam. As even the cynical Reagan biographer Edmund Morris agreed, Reagan had "changed the mood overnight," and decidedly and wonderfully for the better. That was one thing about Reagan where conservatives and liberals alike, plus literal millions of Reagan Democrats, came together and applauded Reagan -- except for the young Obama.
No, Obama wanted to change the mood that Reagan changed. To what, one might ask?
Well, we're finally getting that answer, thanks to the millions of oblivious Americans who blithely voted for Obama's "change" in November 1980. Really, it's unthinkable to imagine that an America that elected Reagan to landslide victories in 1980 and 1984, and today regularly judges Reagan not only the greatest president of all time but, in one 2005 poll, the "greatest American" of all time, could elect Barack Obama -- and may do so again. But, hey, these are Americans. And they do not vote rationally. In 2008, they elected a man who shunned Lech Walesa and missile defense with Poland, both of whom/which Reagan vigorously supported.
Obama's Walesa moment is yet another defining moment. So is the election of November 2012. I'd love to hear Lech Walesa's thoughts on that one. Will Americans "wake up" and "do it better" this time around?