It’s still too early to make a final judgment but the administration of America’s first black President may go down in history as a triumph of style over substance.
Barack Obama’s charisma charms the hell out of most of the American public, the mainstream media and even hardened political pundits. He’s a powerful speaker, an articulate politician and an adept manipulator who has built an image that has mesmerized a nation and most of the world.
President Obama’s trip to Europe has been a success, especially in media and public relations terms. Including both the European Union and NATO dimensions of Atlantic-area relationships reinforces awareness of association between economic growth and military security. The White House has been particularly astute to conclude the trip by visiting Turkey, a vital as well as pivotal ally in the region — and beyond.
It is perhaps no accident that Defense secretary Robert Gates announced plans to drastically reshape the defense budget while President Obama was out of the country. His plans to kill or curtail several costly weapons systems have set off a furor among their constituencies in Congress.
You write columns, you get e-mails, and what some tell you is that capitalism is a failure, that people are suffering and what we need is Obama-style socialism — virtually unfettered government taking over everything that moves and spending at a rate that could add something like $9 trillion to our debt over the next decade.
Americans with mental retardation have been in the news recently.
First, President Obama committed a regrettable indiscretion on the Jay Leno Show by comparing his own bowling ineptitude with the level of skill on display — so the joke goes — at the Special Olympics.
But honest people may feel a little uncomfortable with excessive sanctimony about this incident. In fact, at some point most of us have probably been guilty of making or being amused by similar digs at our fellow citizens with mental retardation.
So these are our allies in the war against terrorism?
A 17-year-old Pakistani girl is unmercifully and publicly flogged by a Taliban thug for leaving her house without a male escort and when authorities are asked to explain, they reply that it was wrong to do it in public. Afghan Shiite women face the prospect of arrest under a new law adopted by the government of Hamid Karzai that critics charge would allow their spouses to incarcerate them at home.