The following are excerpts from Mark Steyn’s latest column, where he shares my disgust at Obama’s UN performance:
President Obama said: “No nation can or should try to dominate another nation. ” Pardon me? Did a professional speechwriter write that? Or did you outsource it to a starry-eyed runner-up in the Miss America pageant? Whether or not any nation “should try” to dominate another, they certainly “can,” and do so with effortless ease, all over the planet and throughout human history.
And how about this passage?
“I have been in office for just nine months – though some days it seems a lot longer. I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world. These expectations are not about me. Rather, they are rooted, I believe, in a discontent with a status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our differences.”
Forget the first part: That’s just his usual narcissistic “But enough about me, let’s talk about what the world thinks of me” shtick. But the second is dangerous in its cowardly evasiveness: For better or worse, we are defined by our differences – and, if Barack Obama doesn’t understand that when he’s at the podium addressing a room filled with representatives of Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Venezuela and other unlovely polities, the TV audience certainly did when Col. Gadhafi took to the podium immediately afterward. They’re both heads of state of sovereign nations. But, if you’re on an Indian Ocean island when the next tsunami hits, try calling Libya instead of the United States and see where it gets you.
This isn’t a quirk of fate. The global reach that enables America and a handful of others to get to a devastated backwater on the other side of the planet and save lives and restore the water supply isn’t a happy accident but something that derives explicitly from our political systems, economic liberty, traditions of scientific and cultural innovation and a general understanding that societies advance when their people are able to fulfill their potential in freedom. In other words, America and Libya are defined by their differences…By declining to distinguish between the foreign minister of Slovenia and the foreign minister of, say, Sudan, you normalize not merely the goofier ad libs of a Khadafy but far darker pathologies….
Ahmadinejad & Co. aren’t Holocaust deniers because of the dearth of historical documentation. They do so because they can, and because it suits their own interests to do so, and because in the regimes they represent the state lies to its people as a matter of course and to such a degree that there is no longer an objective reality only a self-constructed one. In Libya and Syria and far too many “nations,” truth is simply what the thug in the presidential palace declares it to be. But don’t worry, Obama assures them, we’re not “defined by our differences.”
Hey, that’s great, isn’t it? Yet, if you can no longer distinguish between the truth and a lie, why be surprised that the lie metastasizes and becomes, if not yet quite respectable, at least semi-respectable and acceptable in polite society?
It was striking to hear Gadhafi and Hugo Chavez profess their admiration for Obama, call him “our son,” and declare their fond hope that he remain president for life. The Chinese and Russians are more circumspect in public and laughing their heads off in private.
As for the saner members of the U.N., many Europeans still think they’ve got the American president they’ve always wanted: They would agree with John Bolton’s indictment – that this was a post-American speech by a post-American president – but mean it as high praise. As the contours of the post-American world emerge, they will have plenty of time to reconsider their enthusiasm.
Jonah Goldberg also has a fabulous column this week on Obama’s UN performance.