The Scarlet Letter of world politics
When Putin thinks Kalashnikovs and power, Obama thinks Kindles and fundraising events. When allies in the Middle East think territory, influence or strategy, Obama thinks about rhetoric, charm offensives and light footprints
President Obama’s retrenchment agenda appears to be going as planned and in its wake the world continues to burn. We’ve had the Arab Spring turn cold, red lines that melt away, the rise of ISIS, an emboldened Vladimir Putin, a humanitarian crisis unfolding within the homeland and more. It’s become increasingly difficult to justify America’s downsized role in world affairs.
But crisis and policy paralysis are the new norm in the Oval Office. Can you believe – dear reader – that Obama actually went fundraising in Texas, but couldn’t find time to check out the border? Can you believe that he’s really that out of touch with reality?
In Washington, one often hears talk about politicians playing politics and questions surrounding “the optics” of any particular circumstance abound. Well, the optics of Obama’s recent behavior probably don’t tell us enough about how bad a job he’s doing. We’re now deep into his failed presidency and there doesn’t seem to be any hope of turning things around.
Not surprisingly, the most recent crisis in world affairs doesn’t provide us with any encouragement.
Quite evidently, Obama is not comfortable speaking about difficult truths associated with Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The world knows what happened, but why was Obama unable to state the facts and be strong since what has happened is clear? After all, other officials in his administration don’t seem to mind speaking candidly.
The fact is that Obama is uncomfortable with any sort of confrontation and he’s never been comfortable with the assertion of American power.
After all, the only guiding principle of his foreign policy is absolute retreat. Since that’s the case, it looks like we’re relying on Samantha Power’s strong voice at the United Nations. Frankly, at this point she’d make a better president than Obama.
When Putin thinks Kalashnikovs and power, Obama thinks Kindles and fundraising events. When allies in the Middle East think territory, influence or strategy, Obama thinks about rhetoric, charm offensives and light footprints that might as well be invisible.
When reasonable minds see a crisis on America’s southern border, Obama decides to hit Dallas and avoid any opportunity of even visiting the border or mingling with ordinary people.
The writing has been on the wall for some time, but recent events leave no doubt. Obama’s brand has long been radioactive, yet we are entering uncharted territory now. Yes, that’s right; Washington’s ‘Scarlet Letter’ is unmistakable. Because once you go ‘O,’ you do not – cannot – go back.
With the exception of a few White House groupies who are clearly more interested in polls than policy, the only person not seeing the light is our well-known former junior Senator from the state of Illinois. Even in certain liberal circles, the Bush 43 hangover is finally over because people have figured out that drinking Obama’s Kool-Aid is truly toxic.
That’s right. For candidates across the spectrum, the 2014 midterms and 2016 presidential race will have one overarching commonality: a clear recognition that the mark of Obama’s tenure – the quintessential Scarlet Letter – is a stain that doesn’t come out.
Taylor Dibbert is an international consultant based in Washington, D.C. and the author of the book Fiesta of Sunset: The Peace Corps, Guatemala and a Search for Truth. Follow him on Twitter @taylordibbert
We are wholly dependent on the kindness of our readers for our continued work. We thank you in advance for any support you can offer.