Commentary Magazine


Spinning Obama’s Indifference to Foreign Policy

Buried on page 15 of the Washington Post (but not linkable) is an interesting chart and short column by Glenn Kessler. He writes: “When President Obama did not mention the Middle East peace process in his State of the Union speech, some commentators said it was an unusual lapse, perhaps signifying that he had lost interest in the issue after a year of disappointing results.” But no! Kessler jumps into the fray to defend the president (is he now on the White House payroll?) pointing out that lots of other presidents didn’t mention the Middle East either. Kessler spent time checking 50 of these and found that only 30 percent had mentioned the Middle East peace process. He then provided a chart, time line, and, sometime, photos. Wow. That’s a lot of spin … er … work on the subject.

But wait. Obama said that no other president had really tried hard enough to broker a peace deal. He was going to be different in that regard. He was going to roll up his sleeves and personally get involved. He was “impatient” with the lack of progress to date, remember? Well, not so much any more. And he’s belatedly reaching the conclusion that there is no peace to process. So, for all his spin, Kessler seems to prove the critics’ point: so much for Obama the Middle East peace maker.

But Kessler also distorts the gravamen of many of those who commented on Obama’s State of the Union omission. It wasn’t simply the failure to mention the Middle East non-peace process that raised eyebrows. It was Obama’s cursory, back-of-the-hand treatment of all matters of foreign policy and national security. He barely mentioned Iran, didn’t bother with any mention of the mullahs’ human-rights atrocities, and devoted a single sentence to the Christmas Day bombing incident (“We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack, with better airline security, and swifter action on our intelligence.”), and then repeated his mantra that he ”prohibited torture.” (Wrong! It was illegal before him to begin with. He was the one who determined that all we could utilize in interrogations was the Army Field Manual — a distinction he purposefully blurs.) Perhaps if Kessler had compared the paragraphs devoted to terrorism in Obama’s speech with those of George W. Bush’s State of the Union addresses, we would have had a more meaningful bit of data.

Obama never tires of telling us that he’s not George W. Bush. Well, when it comes to focus and passion devoted to defending us in the war against Islamic fascists, I think he’s right.