Commentary Magazine


The Times: Obama’s Favorite Device: “Straw Men”

Somebody must not have been paying attention at the New York Times foreign desk this morning. In a story published on their website about a speech President Obama gave to an audience of students in Turkey, Times reporter Helene Cooper committed a major act of lèse majesté. Rather than merely dutifully reporting Obama’s rhetorical excesses, she actually noted what he was doing in the course of defending his foreign policy:

He often reverted to his favorite rhetorical devices — straw men — to make his points to the students. For instance, he said that “some people say that I’m being too idealistic” and ask him why he’s reaching out to Iranians, saying that trying to use diplomacy to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb is “too hard.”

Wow! Does that mean the Times actually understands that Obama’s campaign of tearing down his predecessor’s policies with  references to “arrogance” is nothing but a crock? And that criticism of his outreach to Iran isn’t based on opposition to his openhearted “idealism,” but on his appeasing a brutal regime that smells weakness?

Barack Hussein Obama, as he has been introduced at every stop in Turkey, has been getting the endless Camelot treatment by the press since he was elected last November. Can it be that somebody on the bus is getting a little tired of his routine and is starting to notice that our new emperor of cool has no rhetorical clothes?

It is also worth noting that both in his speech to the Turkish students and the similar one he gave yesterday to the Turkish parliament, Obama waved the flag of Palestinian statehood as part of his outreach effort to the Muslim world. But in neither speech did he mention that the Palestinians are currently led by Hamas in Gaza and that the so-called moderates of Fatah hold onto control in the West Bank only by virtue of Israeli military support. Hamas’s rejectionism and vicious anti-Jewish hatred is an insurmountable barrier to any hope for peace. Unfortunately, the Turkish government’s support for recognition of Hamas is a barrier to peace as well. But as Ms. Cooper rightly pointed out, President Obama is too busy swinging away at his favorite straw men to pay any attention to real problems.