OK, they can have me now. Let them come and take me now. It’s time to put me on the hog train or shoot me for a billy-goat. If this is at all what it looks like, it must be just about the end. What it looks like is, a sitting president of the United States is trying to bolster his sagging standing with the American people by letting us know that in their latest phone conversation, Obama did not call Putin.
Putin called Obama!
There are signs the president is trying to turn this into a major pro-Obama boost. Standard practice is to announce that the president and whoever – Putin of Russia or Cameron of Britain or Merkel of Germany or Netanyahu of Israel – “had a 48-minute conversation.” No mention of who called whom. This time, however, it was made bull-proof-and-pig-tight that Putin initiated that Friday, March 28 call to President Obama.
No tales of tons of new jobs, mind you. No sugarplum visions of a healing economy, no reports of Palestinian-Israeli peace, no word of Iran’s abandonment of nuclear ambitions, nor proof of a happy ending to the ordeals of Obamacare. Just, “Hey, folks, he called me!” Implied in this new White House policy of pin-pointing who called whom is something like, “While conservatives and Republicans were waving the bloody shirt over Crimea and Ukraine, clever and cagey little me knew exactly how to push the right buttons and keep the wrong buttons from being pushed, and I proved that, without getting anywhere near a military confrontation, I could have Putin begging for an exit-ramp; and now, with fears of war in Europe fading, our stock market and the world economy are climbing upward. Congratulations, America. You showed how brilliant you were to elect and re-elect me!”
Please get my name off of all those petitions calling for his impeachment. What this president lacks in competence, management, courage and leadership, he more than makes up for in entertainment.
There was a popular song in the last century, the lyric of which went:
“Well, what-do-you-know? –
She smiled at me in my dream last night!
My dreams are getting better all the time.”
Obama’s effort to make much more of this than that is one of those insults-to-our-intelligence that’s so insane it’s almost worth it for the fun of it. Is fear of war fading between Russia and Ukraine? Perhaps, but that’s entirely up to Vladimir Putin and how far he wants to go in which direction. Ukraine is not Georgia (theirs, not ours). Nor is it Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania. Ukraine is big. Ukraine says to Russia, “I can’t beat you in a war. I can’t make you leave me alone, but I can make you wish you had!” Let’s see now if the Obama cheering section chimpanzifies itself by praising Obama’s “cool-headed victory with so many kegs of short-fused dynamite sputtering away.”
Personally I’d give Obama about as much credit as I’d give a lottery winner – for his intelligence and mathematical acumen!
And, along with my ridicule I’d give the president a great deal of blame for giving the world five years of the kind of American leadership that convinces people like Putin that he runs no risk whatever in seizing a smaller neighbor’s land. Putin has all the cards, except maybe the Joker.
I would also give Obama a strange kind of sympathy. He is desperate. Desperation makes otherwise rational people do odd things. In his book, “From the Land of the Silent People,” World War II correspondent Robert St. John tells of the mob who, when the Nazi hordes swarmed into Athens, Greece, in 1941, descended upon the American Embassy trying to establish sufficient American connections to qualify for American diplomatic protection. One woman, St. John reported, was willing to swear that she’d slept with an American sailor during World War I, so would they please give her a diplomatic passport the Germans would respect (America was then neutral) so she could go to America? OK, a bit of a stretch, but I’d probably give her appeal more consideration than I would a president who said, “Do you have another Nobel Peace Prize handy? I just made Vladimir Putin call me, looking for help!”
Call the History Department! Did Adolf Hitler ever make any calls to the leaders of countries he couldn’t decide whether or not to invade?
We are all Americans. I don’t mind at all shutting up, leaving legitimate criticism and complaint unspoken and allowing an embattled president to try to improve his situation without my Bronx-cheers resonating in his face. But when a president tries to pass off abject failure in foreign policy as some kind of unusual victory, it’s dangerous to let that edifice stand. There are already too many Americans keeping too politely silent about too many failures and blunders that reinforce – and do not restrain – the Putins among us. That particular camel’s back can’t handle one more straw.
Why is the White House being so un-transparent? They’re not even telling us whether or not Putin called collect!
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