Commentary Magazine


All About Him

Eugene Robinson writes that he was sometimes worried that Obama might be “overestimating the power of his personal history as an instrument of foreign policy.” But now those fears are put to rest. Because? Because of the Cairo speech that talked about his personal history. And the speech was so well-received that Robinson isn’t worried anymore. You see, it works!

Well, yes, North Korea is running amok. Iran hasn’t given up its nuclear ambitions. Palestinians don’t have a viable interlocutor to deal with Israel. Israel isn’t about to stop ad-ons from being built in East Jerusalem. But students, Robinson says, shouted “I love you!” in Cairo and — now this is the clincher — “Obama was speaking the language of Islam in a tone of respect.” (George W. Bush did this incessantly but I guess it didn’t count, coming from him.)  So now we have incontrovertible proof of the power of Obama.

Circular reasoning? There is an utter lack of real-world evidence for Obama’s awesome power. Well, Robinson says that we should look at the elections in Lebanon. On that score, let me say it takes a certain type of hubris to conclude that voters in Lebanon rejected Hezbollah not because they have aspirations for re-establishing their own country as an independent, vibrant, democratic nation or because Hezbollah was implicated in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, but because of Obama’s speech in Cairo. It is the sort of enormously condescending, American-centric view of the world which, if George W. Bush espoused, would rightly be ridiculed by elite media figures, including Robinson.

But you see how Obama comes to believe in the power of his own wonderfulness and his ability to rewrite history and distort reality. If he reads his own news clippings he must think it’s working.

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