ISIS is about to conquer Baghdad while the Kurds are begging for arms and American airpower to prevent the massacre of the people in Kobane. Joey Biden accidentally told the truth about Turkey’s placid approach to ISIS but apologized quickly. Ukraine has gone quiet for the moment but Kim Jong-un remains missing and — given his five weeks’ absence — intelligence analysts are trying to figure out if the North Koreans are about to go off the rails again. And TSA’s experts are screening passengers at some airports, including JFK, to ensure our borders remain open to anyone who will not die of Ebola before they go through customs inspection. The rest of the world is in about the same shape.
In short, President Obama’s foreign policy has so consistently failed that it’s no longer news. The media just report what’s going on mostly without reference to Obama or the United States. And while all of this is going on, the people who helped Obama develop these failed policies are — one by one — throwing him under the bus in one highly-publicized memoir after another. Inspiring loyalty in those who follow you is a primary trait of a leader. Judging by the raft of memoirs by his most trusted advisors, Obama isn’t much of one.
It all began with Duty, former defense secretary Bob Gates’s memoir published early this year. Gates was a holdover from the Bush administration and, as he recounts in the book, he interviewed with Obama for only about 45 minutes to determine whether Obama would keep him on. And in that time he never once asked Obama a substantive policy question. Gates, the bureaucrat’s bureaucrat, only wanted to know that he’d not be ignored, whether he could keep his deputy and such.
Then Gates was surprised to discover that he had no real power. All of the decisions on defense policy were made in the White House. When he told Obama that if Obama fired Gen. Stanley McChrystal he’d lose the Afghanistan war, Obama fired the general an hour later. And then Gates recounts that he was shocked that in deciding on the Afghanistan surge, Obama didn’t trust his generals, didn’t believe in his own strategy and — I’m interpolating here — really didn’t give a damn about anything other than the domestic political effects of his action.
Then came Hillary. It’s tougher for Mizz Clinton to duck responsibility for Obama’s policy decisions because she helped formulate most of them, but she takes her best shot in her book Hard Choices. Clinton was Obama’s chief foreign policy adviser as Secretary of State, but she writes of her disagreement with Obama on supporting Syrian rebels. Obama is brilliant, she says. A great prophet on foreign relations and if he’d only listened to her, the world would be a better place.
Now another Obama defense secretary, Leon Panetta, has come out with a memoir bashing Obama for all manner of failures. I haven’t read it, and may not, because we know his motivation.
Panetta reportedly found the same situation in the Pentagon that Gates gladly endured. The big decisions all came from the White House, so he didn’t have that much influence (although he takes credit for the SEAL raid that killed bin Laden). And Panetta blames Obama for the rise of ISIS because, as we all can see, our abrupt withdrawal from Iraq, and Obama’s decision not to aid the Syrian rebels, left a vacuum that some group like ISIS was bound to fill.
Disregard Gates — which is appropriate — and what are you left with? A Clinton book aimed at bolstering her presidential campaign and another book by a former White House Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton — namely Panetta — written to help Hillary as much as her book was written to do the same.
Most Democrats are left in the sad state Allison Lundergan Grimes finds herself. Ms. Grimes, running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), went to bizarre lengths to avoid answering the simple question put to her at least four times by a major Kentucky newspaper on whether or not she voted for Obama. The lady is evidently ashamed that she did, which is devastating to both her and the president. Obama is the campaign equivalent of strychnine, and no one wants to swallow even the responsibility of having been one of the millions who voted for him.
After Gates’s version of history was repeated — out of order, because Panetta recounts tragedy and Hillary’s memoir is farce — all that is left is slapstick comedy. Which former President Carter eagerly supplies.
Since the inauguration of his successor, it’s been comprehensively clear that Jiminy Carter was our worst president in the history of the Republic, at least until now. Apparently, a dim light went on in Jiminy’s brain causing a revelation like, “Ohmigosh! Finally, there’s a president even worse than I was! I’ve got to tell the world!”
Carter, whose principal achievements in office were his seizing personal control of the White House tennis court schedule and complete failure to deal with the Iran hostage crisis, was clearly the embodiment of the Peter Principle: by electing him president, America promoted him far beyond his abilities. But now Carter sees the rehabilitation of his reputation within his grasp.
So Jiminy has told a CNBC interviewer that, “I could’ve been re-elected if I’d taken military action against Iran, shown that I was strong and resolute and, um, manly and so forth.” It’s only thirty-five years too late for that realization.
But that’s not the end of it. Jiminy had to connect his failures to Obama’s and prove to the world he was better than Barack. He tried to prove it in an interview with CNN.
Carter said, “First of all, we waited too long. We let the Islamic State build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria.… Then when [ISIS] moved into Iraq, the Sunni Muslims didn’t object to their being there and about a third of the territory in Iraq was abandoned.”
Demonstrating his powerful command of the obvious, he added, “You have to have somebody on the ground to direct our missiles and to be sure you have the right target,” Carter said. “Then you have to have somebody to move in and be willing to fight ISIS after the strikes.”
Jumping on the Gates and Panetta books, Carter criticized Obama’s foreign policy as lacking “positive action,” and said “It changes from time to time… I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president.”
If only Panetta’s book had come out before Hillary’s, they would have laid a perfect foundation for Carter’s criticism by following Karl Marx’s adage that history repeats itself: first as tragedy, then as farce.
As awful as Carter was, Obama’s actions prove that the latter is worse. But we may have Hillary as our next president and then Carter’s reputation may be further rehabilitated by another candidate for the title of our worst president ever.