After renewed efforts to push his autocratic climate change agenda in the U.S., President Obama finally made his long-heralded trip to the African continent. Though his reception in some countries was celebrated, in others it was somewhat frosty; in an instance or two, Obama managed to turn a warm welcome into a sub-zero sendoff.
Obama’s visit to Senegal was more or less boilerplate for a powerful head of state. The most noteworthy event was probably a magnificently sappy photo-op with Obama staring wistfully from a stone doorway at Gorée Island, the “Door of No Return” through which Africans bound for slavery in the New World are reported to have passed.
On June 29, Africa Tour 2013 took a nosedive. In Johannesburg, South Africa, police were forced to fire rubber bullets and stun grenades into crowds of protesters before the president arrived at the University of Johannesburg. Hundreds of South Africans turned out to protest U.S. drone strikes, Mideast policy, support of Israel and Obama’s foreign policy in general.
It was in South Africa where Obama began putting his foot in it with reckless abandon. Speaking on climate change and economic growth at a town hall event in Johannesburg, President Obama claimed that “the planet will boil over” if everyone has access to air conditioning, automobiles and big houses unless the world finds “new ways of producing energy.” Those in undeveloped nations have been complaining for decades that the demands of developed Western nations with regard to environmental concerns serve to stultify the economic growth of Third World countries. Yet there was Obama, rubbing it in and demanding more compliance. Africans can ride bicycles for another 50 years; we’ll tell them how to grow.
While delivering remarks in Cape Town, Obama sparked even more controversy when he urged African leaders to accept gay marriage. I kid you not. This prompted an immediate rebuke by President Macky Sall of Senegal, who said that his predominantly Muslim country was “not ready to decriminalize homosexuality.” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto both slammed Obama over his remarks, citing biblical convention. “This nation, the nation of Kenya,” Ruto said, is “sovereign and God-fearing.”
As one might expect, the less than flattering aspects of Obama’s trip were deftly avoided by the press, but the double standard with regard to liberal politicians in general and Obama in particular is what spoke most loudly.
Had a white American president said those things, it would be bad enough. If a white Republican president had done it, liberals in America would have had collective apoplexy; in progressive strongholds like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C., the surge of adrenaline and related stress hormones would have washed liberal elites out to sea by the thousands.
Who does he think he is? the press would have shrieked. Does he think he can just fly in and promise goodies under the quid pro quo of adherence to his doctrine? He would be accused of viewing and treating Africans as insignificant Third World primitives to be exploited for his political ends.
Now, Obama’s Cabinet and the cabin boys who write his scripts certainly don’t see the inconsistency or the paternalism in his grandiose and controversial propositions; but then, they think like he does. They do view Africans as insignificant Third World primitives to be exploited for their political ends.
Let’s forget for a moment that Obama is what passes for black in America (though not necessarily in Africa). There’s the Obama who genuflects before the Chinese and Saudis, and apologizes for America’s colonialist past when he speaks to European liberals and those in Arab nations. Then, there’s the Obama who goes to Africa and patronizes the hell out of them, dangling American largesse on the one hand while attempting to dictate their social agenda on the other. He’s the ultimate con man.
The word “audacity” has become a hallmark of the Obama administration, hearkening back to Obama’s 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope.” One can’t help but wonder how far the president expects to get with his plan for Africa amidst disintegration of his support in America due to that pesky plague of scandals.
As I write this, the government in Egypt is unraveling in a big way. Having catalyzed the celebrated “Arab Spring,” Obama is essentially responsible for the political advent of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the election of Mohammed Morsi as its president. Recently, Morsi was implicated by Libyan intelligence in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on our embassy in Benghazi. This will no doubt be of interest to the House committees investigating the event. The ongoing civil war in Syria remains a problem, as do the administration’s actions there.
The National Security Agency domestic spying scandal still hangs over Obama, and leaker Edward Snowden remains at large; just how much information he holds remains to be seen. This week, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper apologized for telling Congress the NSA doesn’t gather data on millions of Americans, calling it an “erroneous” answer (in the real world, it is called a lie). Our European allies are incensed over clandestine surveillance the administration has conducted upon them. On the domestic front, grass-roots groups have mobilized to combat Internal Revenue Service abuses, NSA surveillance and Obamacare.
It could be argued that the Obama presidency is unraveling, too, but we’d never hear that in the establishment press.
One can’t help but wonder how much of Obama’s recent rhetoric and business-as-usual attitude reflects the unvarnished arrogance of this imperial president and how much it may reflect the total disconnect associated with malignant narcissism. The scandals – which would have long since sunk another president – aren’t going away, no matter how much the administration and many in the press would like to ignore them. Obama’s Africa plan may just have to wait.