Gazing all the way back to 2009 when lofty speeches were made in Cairo, an inexperienced legislator took the helm of the greatest country on earth. Though he probably would not have characterized the United States in that way, the whole world fell behind him in worshipful droves because they just knew he would do the best job ever, ever, ever.
This seemed a natural thing to think.
Unlike that dastardly Republican who “stole” his first election, this new Democrat was so smart, so smooth, so virtuous, he had to be admired by all. Surely he would skillfully soothe the tigers of unrest that had long gnashed their teeth and raked their claws across the face of the West. He was something special.
Fast forward to 2013.
The Middle East continues to be embroiled in violent conflict. Amazingly, al-Qaida hasn’t actually been “decimated” despite the Obama administration’s rhetoric, and there are even WMDs in the mix.
However, though he retained his office in 2012, the man who once inspired voters to faint at his feet during his speeches now stands incapable of convincing a vast majority of Americans to support even an “unbelievably small” military action that he says is absolutely necessary in light of Syria’s use of chemical weapons.
As a result, even if he manages to finagle some sort of diplomatic solution to a difficult problem, President Obama will walk away from his latest gambit in foreign affairs looking weak. He has been sorely diminished on the global stage, and that is not just bad for him. It is bad for the country he represents.
How did this happen?
Barrack Obama has long chosen a “lead from behind” approach to foreign policy. This strategy was supposed to be better than that used by the bellicose Texan who pushed the fight with terrorists across the ocean, but the reality is that it hasn’t garnered the perfect peace Obama’s election once promised.
Indeed, two acts of terrorism were carried out on American soil in the president’s first term, and an American ambassador was murdered in Benghazi.
Recalling the “virtuous” Obama’s reactions to each of these attacks might shed some light on why so many now view their commander-in-chief as a prevaricator who can’t be trusted enough to follow into a difficult conflict.
To review, in 2009 Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad shot two soldiers in Arkansas. Pvt. William Long died, but President Obama — a man at the zenith of his power — essentially ignored the political motives attached to that attack and quietly mischaracterized it as a “senseless act of violence.” The media nodded dumbly and moved on.
Then Nadal Hasan slaughtered 13 soldiers and wounded a score more whilst shouting “Allahu Akbar” in Texas. Flying in the face of reason, the Obama administration called this atrocity “workplace violence.” The media shrugged politely and looked away.
Chris Stevens and three others were murdered in what was immediately understood to be an organized attack by terrorists on an American embassy. The president did not play mere word games in response to this. He wrapped that event so tightly in an elaborate and silly lie that the whole truth about what actually happened that night has yet to be completely unraveled. The media helped spin, spin, spin the mendacity as if mendacity isn’t a serious problem.
The president was re-elected.
Yet new scandals have broken.
Now even journalists who have exhibited years of blind faith in “hope and change” are finally asking if the American people have any reason at all to trust the president who has so often misled the country for political purposes.
It seems to me that’s an exceedingly good question.
Personally, I suspect I’m not the only one who misses George W. Bush.
Barbara Donnelly Lane, formerly of east Cobb, is working on a master’s degree in political science at Georgia State University.