Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Portrait Of Incompetency

“You left Claire for Frisbee the Dog?  Frank, let me sum this up for you:  you don’t know who you are, you don’t know what you want, and you don’t know what the hell is going on!”
—David Johansen as The Ghost of Christmas Past in Scrooged

Don’t look now, but the Peter Principle may have finally achieved its ultimate manifestation. 

I suppose we really shouldn’t be surprised when we elect as our Commander-In-Chief a man with literally no substantive job experience.  Oh, I guess he did author an autobiography, which was pretty audacious for a 34 year old with no meaningful life experience or achievements:  absentee junior associate, “community organizer,” part-time law professor, and incomplete-term legislator. 


But I don’t think anyone, even the major-league talk radio guys, could have imagined the level of incompetency in this administration would be this spectacular, and this pervasive.  Consider just what we’ve seen in the last few months:

  • Operation Fast & Furious, in which the Justice Department deliberately permitted thousands of illegal guns to be trafficked to Mexican drug cartels, some of which ended up back in the U.S. where they were used to murder Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.  Dozens of documents now reveal that information about this project was made available at least as high up as Attorney General Eric Holder, who either (a) in fact knew about and authorized this colossally stupid program (and is now lying about it), (b) could have known about it but didn’t bother to read the reports (Holder’s story now), or (c) really doesn’t have any idea or control over what is going on at DOJ.
  • The Solyndra (and Tesla Motors, and Beacon Power, etc.) “green energy” loan debacle, where the physics-professor-headed Department of Energy guaranteed $535 million in loans to a fledgling company in an unproven startup industry, and did so over the skepticism—if not outright objection—of those charged with doing the financial review of that deal, only to see it go bankrupt almost to the day when the financial experts predicted it would.  
  • Stimulus and the proposed Son of Stimulus, with the economy remaining stagnant and unemployment chronically stuck above 9%, despite Obama’s promises that with Stimulus I it would remain below 8%.  In response to the obvious failure, Obama offered the juvenile quip back in June that “shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.”  Perhaps he wouldn’t have been so surprised at the gulf between his “shovel-ready” promises and reality if he or anyone in his administration had any experience or background relevant to administering any of the tasks he is purporting to undertake.

But let’s look at some of the recent issues in the Middle East, where Thomas Friedman and others have been proclaiming Obama to be an unqualified success.

Over the weekend, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization voted overwhelmingly to grant the Palestinian Authority full membership.  It did so over the U.S.’ “nay” vote, and despite federal law requiring the U.S. to withdraw its funding of the group (22% of UNESCO’s total budget) as a consequence.  While meaningless in and of itself, the vote clothes the Palestinians with an increasing degree of international legitimacy, and gives considerable momentum to their bid last month for full recognition by the U.N. proper.

It is worth noting that the Palestinians’ statehood recognition request to the U.N. was in itself made over the U.S.’ objection and in spite of a threatened U.S. veto in the Security Council.  In both instances, if Obama and the State Department have been doing any work with the relevant players to see that it never came to a public game of chicken that hasn’t been apparent.  What has been apparent has been nearly three years of publicly undermining Israel’s negotiating position, and inexplicably backhanding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for all the world to see.  The result is an embarrassing and dangerous standoff that the U.S. will ultimately lose, and it will be Israel that pays the price.

Paralleling the apparent inaction, non-communication, and ally-abandonment that have been the hallmarks of the administration’s “policy” in Israel, it was revealed last week that as the relationship with the new leadership in Iraq has soured over the timing and scope of the withdrawal of U.S. troops, neither Obama nor Vice President Joe Biden—supposedly the administration’s point man on the issue—had any communications with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki since February.  None.  Nada.  Zero.  Scratch.  Zilch.  Other than to tell him unilaterally on October 21 that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn by the end of the year—information made known to all the world, including those potential enemies who would most profit from that knowledge—there wasn’t so much as a phone call.

And you thought Obama was treating Bibi like his bitch.

We’ve seen the Obama administration cheer on the so-called “Arab Spring,” and even supply military assistance to the rebels in Libya (query how many grieving Iranian mothers and students-cum-political prisoners are left to wonder where the hell this pro-regime change policy was two years ago).  But has Obama had any idea what was going to rise to fill the resulting void?  In Tunisia, the “free elections” Obama has so loudly praised have resulted in the election of an Islamist regime that is now implementing Sharia law.  In Egypt, following the removal of reliable U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak—again with Obama waving his pom-poms on the sidelinesanti-Christian violence is now rampant, and elections next month threaten to yield the same result as in Tunisia, with the hard-line Muslim Brotherhood poised to play a significant role, if not gain outright power.  Ditto Libya, where the death of Mohammar Qaddafi has opened the door for a more Islamic fundamentalist (read: radical jihadi) regime to take hold.  God only knows what the end game will look like in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Oman, Jordan, etc.—the track record in those places where it’s already played out, however, doesn’t look very rosy.

Be careful what you wish for/ ‘cause you just might get it all/ You just might get it all.

Meanwhile, our relationship with former “ally” Pakistan has deteriorated to the point that even U.S.-installed Afghan leader Mohammed Karzai has pledged support for Pakistan should it come to a war with the U.S.  I had no idea we were at the point of even discussing a conflict with Pakistan, much less choosing sides.

And, of course, there is the well-documented situation in Iran, where Mahmoud Ahmedinedjad has as a publicly stated policy goal the elimination of Israel.  Ahmedinedjad, who is now armed with cruise missiles and is not far from obtaining nukes.  Ahmedinedjad, who earlier this summer announced the Iranian navy would soon be patrolling just off U.S. watersan announcement met with essentially no reaction by the White House.  More sanctions, maybe a request for a U.N. resolution.

That's bold leadership, Mr. President.  Bold, indeed.

Across the board, it appears this President spends more time and effort on his March Madness bracket than he does actually grasping and taking on the foreign policy issues we face.  He has failed to take an active leadership role, and failed to assess adequately the consequences of events playing out one way versus the other—a failing he shares with both Bush administrations, by the way.  And when he has taken action it has been to tip his hand, unnecessarily concede negotiating positions, or to show outright weakness.  The level of ignorance and/or naïveté in this administration is mind-boggling; the degree to which this President is simply a pussy is frightening.

What’s it going to be like 6-12 months from now (especially if by then it appears that Obama is likely to win re-election), with virtually no U.S. troop presence in the Middle East?  What’s it going to be like with at best no Arab check on Iran, or at worst universal Arab support for Iran?  How emboldened will Ahmedinedjad be then?      

I can only pray we’ll find a successor to Reagan’s mantle in time.

Keystone XL Pipeline Watch: 68 days since final State Department Report, with still no action by the White House

Editor’s Note:  I will be traveling on business the remainder of this week, and may be unable to post.  Thanks for your patience, and I look forward to getting back.

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