Vail Valley Voices: Give Obama an A
The other day, I received another one of those e-mails criticizing Barack Obama for apologizing for every perceived American contravention since 1776.
Some obviously aren’t comfortable with the president’s obsession with appeasing both the Europeans and the Muslim world.
Now let’s be clear, I’m no fan of Barack Obama. He’s too much of a believer in big government, and I’ve never been able to dismiss his associations with Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. Obama knew full well how despicable these men were, but as a prototypical Chicago politician, political expediency has always been the order of the day.
Nevertheless, Mr. Obama has thus far been surprisingly adroit on foreign policy issues, and I truly believe his speech in Egypt was masterful.
Because of the most biased media in our nation’s history, the world has been spoon-fed extraordinarily high doses of vitriol against the Bush administration and, by extension, the U.S. But as Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels said, “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will eventually see it as the truth.”
For eight years, the media did their best to discredit the Bush administration, and they succeeded. So I find it ironic that the same media that slobbered all over Obama have also provided his biggest challenge – the high degree of anti-Americanism that exists around the world today.
And that is precisely what President Obama is trying to redress. Thanks in large part to our media, he inherited a world where America was perceived as the bad guy and a world that embraced moral equivalency.
But by going on the record as he did in Cairo, Obama is giving America’s critics, especially those in the Muslim world, nowhere to go.
Our CIA waterboarded three guys – that’s right, just three guys. But to listen to the media, the CIA under the Bush administration was a reincarnation of the Spanish Inquisition, and that’s what stuck. No matter that renditions and many other highly criticized policies began during the Clinton era, Bush was going to take the rap, period, end of story.
In order to enlist the world’s assistance in fighting the war on terror, President Obama had little choice but to publicly address every legitimate and perceived transgression we’ve ever been accused of.
Political commentator Bill O’Reilly criticizes the president for continually resurrecting the torture issue, which he feels hurts America’s image. It does. But since Le Monde, al Jazerra and most of the world’s press
reguregularly regurgitate what they read in The New York Times, that’s the issue that had to be addressed if the president was going to begin changing world-wide perceptions and gain support in combating Islamic terrorism.
Defending ourselves by saying the CIA only waterboarded three terrorists resulting in thousands of saved lives is never going to gain traction.
As a practical matter, it made not a bit of difference that every other nation on earth has practiced far worse. All that mattered was that the United States did.
It is useless reminding the Europeans about the Marshall Plan or how much American blood was shed fighting two world wars that they started or how we defended Europe at enormous costs against the Soviet Union for 50 years. They already know this. So here’s a news bulletin: They don’t care. It’s ancient history to them!
If Obama is going to bring the world around to our way of thinking regarding Islamic extremism, he has to start with a clean slate, and that’s what his mea culpas are all about. His recent speech in Cairo was just another step in clearing that slate. Of all Obama’s speeches, his Cairo speech was perhaps the most significant because it created the psychological space for future dialogue.
George Bush has offered numerous olive branches to the Muslims, but he lost the moral high ground because of Iraq, and his words fell on deaf ears.
Now Obama publicly rejects “wars of choice,” torture, Gitmo, etc. Whether justified or not, each of those issues were barriers to dialogue with the Muslim people. But now, because of his act of contrition, he’s gone on the record saying, “OK, we’ve messed up in the past, but let’s put this behind us and move forward.”
Because President Obama is black, spent his formative years in a Muslim nation and has a middle name of Hussein, he has a degree of “street cred” in the Muslim world. But perhaps even more importantly, our “teleprompter-perpetually-campaigning-prez” has outflanked none other than Osama bin Laden in the battle for the hearts and minds of Muslims.
I listened to the president’s speech in Cairo, and Barack Obama spoke the truth. Sure, he soft-pedaled Arab and Persian “transgressions” and pandered more than most of us would have liked. But he got his message across.
Now it’s bin Laden who has to respond. And fortunately for us, the world’s No. 1 terrorist can only counter by spewing more hatred and lies. President Obama is taking back the moral high ground in the eyes of the world, and he should be given an A for his efforts.
Butch Mazzuca lives in Edwards.
For 40 years, Eagle’s Community Helpline has been a living example of the axiom that giving begins at home.