Commentary Magazine


Obama’s Been Pickpocketed By Reality

A liberal who has been mugged by reality may turn to conservatism, as Irving Kristol famously said. Or that liberal might blame society on behalf of his mugger and redouble his liberalism. But in either case the liberal knows he’s been victimized. What happens to a liberal who, instead, has been pickpocketed by reality–robbed and victimized but who assumes he’s just misplaced his wallet? The last few days have given us our clearest answer yet, in the incoherent ramblings of President Obama on the nature of the threats to the free world.

And over the weekend Democrats tried desperately to convince him he’s been mugged. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says he’s being “too cautious” on ISIS. That’s her way of saying that she’s privy to enough intel to wonder what Obama sees when he looks at the same information. Bob Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thinks Obama needs to be doing more to fend off Russia’s invasion of Ukraine–and yes, by the way, he used the word “invasion” rather than participate in the administration’s Orwellian word games to deny reality and make excuses for abandoning American allies.

And the Washington Post editorial board laid into Obama’s swirling confusion over the complexity of the world:

This argument with his own administration is alarming on three levels.

The first has to do with simple competence. One can only imagine the whiplash that foreign leaders must be suffering…

Similarly, his senior advisers uniformly have warned of the unprecedented threat to America and Americans represented by Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq. But Mr. Obama didn’t seem to agree…

When Mr. Obama refuses to acknowledge the reality, allies naturally wonder whether he will also refuse to respond to it.

One can almost imagine the Post’s editors intended the editorial to be read aloud, slowly and with exaggerated elocution, as if speaking to a child. And so the president hasn’t really been mugged by reality, because he doesn’t seem to know he’s been hit.

The Post editorial was right to call attention to the bewilderment America’s allies around the world must be experiencing. But it’s worth dwelling on the same confusion America’s enemies must be feeling. Their actions have resulted in a propaganda windfall because they surely expected the American president not to parrot their talking points or shrug off their murderous intent.

When it was revealed in August that President Obama had downgraded American security cooperation with Israel and was withholding weapons transfers to Israel during wartime, Times of Israel editor David Horovitz wrote a column headlined “US livid with Israel? Hamas can’t believe its luck.” Indeed, Hamas probably expects at best empty words from Obama about Israel’s right to defend itself, but it’s doubtful they ever imagined they would start a war with Israel only to have the American president withhold military support from Israel during that war and then fume that the U.S.-Israel military relationship is such that both sides assume America will have Israel’s back, at least during wartime. Obama wants Israel to make no such assumptions.

Similarly, could Vladimir Putin have expected the Obama administration to help him obfuscate the fact that he has invaded Ukraine–again? Administration officials “have a perfectly clear idea what Russian President Vladimir Putin is doing in Ukraine,” the Daily Beast’s Christopher Dickey wrote late last week. “They just don’t want to say the word out loud.” Putin must be giddy.

And when video surfaced revealing that, in the words of CNN, “Libyan militia members have apparently turned the abandoned U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, into a water park,” U.S. Ambassador Deborah Jones protested the coverage of an event the symbolism of which was impossible to ignore. It was not true that those ransacking the compound were ransacking the compound, she claimed; they were, um, guarding it. We are truly in the best of hands.

What is most troublesome about this, and what might be responsible for bringing Democrats out of the woodwork to denounce Obama’s foreign-policy silliness, is the fact that there doesn’t appear to be anything that can get the president to confront reality. It’s always been assumed that at some point Obama will wake up; Democrats are no longer convinced that’s the case, and have gone public to try to assure friends and foes alike that not everyone in the U.S. government is so steeped in comforting delusions while the world burns.

Someone’s at the wheel, in other words, just not the president. And now it’s the rest of the world’s turn to believe the spin coming out of Washington, instead of hoping American officials don’t believe the spin coming in.

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7 Responses to “Obama’s Been Pickpocketed By Reality”


    At the outset of Obama’s first term, seasoned foreign policy wonks went to great lengths to assure those of us aggrieved at our misfortune of having a naïf and a friend of the worlds worst policymakers in the White House, that, as Mr. Mandel has stated, the President would wake up. After a few hard knocks, he would surely understand the work of his predecessors and get on board the crafting of policy to reward our allies, and punish our enemies, or at least resist those trying to undermine our interests.

    As temperate as the media, including Commentary Magazine, has been in softening the appearance of a President of the United States as clueless and adrift, and reserving to itself, by self-policing its analysis and leaving off the proper time and place for an intervention, the further harm that can be done by this Administration seems to be part of another rubric for we the aggrieved: That if we only ride out another two years of the one-who-may-not-be-criticized we’ll get through this and onto the healing process.

    A Republican majority Senate, informed citizenry and a chastened and engaged Democratic Party could start today and might never catch up to the harm being spun now.

    The Rumpelstiltskin moment has got to come… soon, feelings and appearances be damned.


    The euro-trash elites were so happy to see the cowboy Bush leave the stage to be replaced by such a sophisticated swell just like them! And with such a perfectly creased trouser leg. Well, here he is in all his glory. Why don’t you Euros take for awhile. We’re done with him.


    Another charade by a Commentary writer. Obama does not lack understanding of the nature of middle east events, nor is he confused about what should be the object of American middle east policy. Obama supports the goals of retrograde Islamic fascism; nothing more–and certainly nothing less. Shiite, Sunni, the goals are the same. Obama ignored the millions of Iranians protesters in the summer of 2009; tried very hard to keep the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Egypt; refused to negotiate a status of forces agreement with Iraq, leaving a weak government prey to Sunni extremists and IS; bullying, threatening Israel; and, of course, helping Iran build an arsenal of nuclear missiles. Commentary’s Editor-in chief and its writers know exactly what Obama is and what he is not; they just won’t tell you.


      Pagans are drawn to chaos, then restoration of order, then more chaos, then more restoration of order. That dynamic is in their DNA.

    • DIANE FLAHERTY says:

      All traitors have ‘pure’ motives, be they naive ideology, or malicious intent. I heard today Obama has OK’d Libyan passports to those who want to come here and study airline piloting and we just learned several commercial airplanes have been ‘captured’ in Libya. I agree Commentary’s writers know what Obama is and isn’t. But they can’t tell any of us what to believe. The best any media outlet can offer is facts. Then facts and activities. Then facts and their distorted marketing. Then facts in the context of the rule of law. Then it’s up to each and every one of us to influence U.S. influence in this poor world.


    Though I understand Parker’s frustrations, Commentary will never allow itself to get agitated. You might as well ask the English to skip afternoon tea. The Democrats are trying to hide Obama’s incapacities as they did when Wilson had a stroke and his wife was secretly leading the country. If Hillary were truly Presidential, she’d be stepping forward now.

    What we need is strong Republican leadership like Reagan showed when he humiliated the clueless Carter in their debates. I don’t care if Reagan planned it or not, it was the right thing to do.

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