October 7, 2012
The Master Debater Part IIBy Clarice Feldman
Wednesday the public got to see the president as I have always seen him -- a lazy, superficial thinker who is over his head as Chief Executive.
There were so many witty tweets and columns that our side of the aisle was kept laughing as the night wore on. "Mene mene tekel upharsin", tweeted the great Iowahawk, reminding readers of the words written by a mysterious hand that to the Biblical Daniel correctly signified the end of a king (Belshazzar) and his reign.
I can't say the online equivalent of graffiti I'm seeing was written by so mysterious a hand, but the signs are just as clear to me that the media and Democratic dream that in the upcoming debates Obama will do much better than he did in the first debate is going to be dashed. (I'm not even going into the next debate which is between the brilliant Paul Ryan and Joe "Yes, we will raise your taxes by a trillion dollars" Biden. In my opinion, he was badly beaten in 2008 by Sarah Palin and I can't imagine Ryan doing less well against him.)
The debates I'm talking about and which the Presidential advisors had certainly considered would be plusses for them when the schedule was set are the town meeting, on October 16 moderated by Candy Crowley at Hofstra University and the Obama-Romney debate on October 22 moderated by Bob Schieffer. The first will discuss foreign and domestic issues, the latter will concentrate on foreign policy.
Of course, the Town Meeting format will give Obama more latitude to lie, avoid explicating anything beyond nostrums and platitudes, than will the October 22 head to head debate. Still, I think he'll do badly in them. When these debates were set, the administration probably thought arranging the debate schedule to end with foreign policy was a plus for him. He was going to hit hard on the fact that he was an experienced international leader and Romney was not. And goodness, he killed Bin Laden.
It's not quite working out that way, is it?
Viewership will be down by the 16th and 22nd of the month, but both sides are still largely targeting their debate approach to the independents and uncommitted voters, and Romney has plenty of ammunition to provoke Obama into showing his Chicago nasty street fighter side, a side just barely tamped down on the campaign trail before audiences which consist of more than his Reverend Wright, Hollywood celebs, San Francisco and Manhattan moguls, and SEIU-type home base.
Here are just a few examples of administration foreign policy failures which Romney is sure to underscore:
The consistent disregard for our allies and appeasement of our enemies is a particularly weak spot. What better example can one find than the refusal to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, leader of our only consistent ally in the troubled Middle East?
Then there's the refusal to provide requested security for our Libyan ambassador, consultants, and staff; his murder, the loss of valuable security information in Benghazi, the weeks of lying about the perpetrators and circumstances surrounding that disaster and the delay in sending in FBI investigators.
The outreach and financial support to the new Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who allowed our embassy walls in Cairo to be breached and who is proving far more troublesome (no "ally") than his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, whom Obama forced out.
Bill Gertz, writing for the Washington Free Beacon, says that intelligence officials are in revolt over the administration's lies. He details the course of the administration's disinformation campaign about the incident in Libya and reports:
The final element of the campaign involved comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was the first to give a partial explanation of the intelligence when she said al Qaeda terrorists operating from Mali were possible culprits in the Benghazi attack.
"What she failed to mention was the cooperation of Iran and Egypt in supporting jihadists in Libya," the official said, who added the events would be investigated in an apparent effort to stave off internal critics in government.
That has led to delays in getting FBI and other U.S. investigators into Benghazi, raising concerns that some in the White House wanted to delay the FBI's efforts to uncover evidence about the attack.
The FBI did not reach Benghazi until Thursday, ostensibly over concerns about the lack of security to protect them.
"The Obama Administration is afraid to admit al Qaeda is running rampant throughout the region because it would expose the truth instead of what President Obama so pompously spouted during the Democratic Convention" said the official.
The president said during his nomination acceptance speech that "al Qaeda is on the path to defeat," an assertion contradicted by the group's rise in the region.
The administration, in particular, wants to keep hidden solid intelligence showing that the terrorist group behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans is now flourishing under the Muslim Brotherhood regime of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
If Gertz is right (and he usually is), I'll be surprised if we don't learn more about these failures before October 22.
And then there's Afghanistan. As Michael Ramirez, the great political cartoonist, said on Facebook:
On August 21, 2012, America passed a grim milestone, the U.S. Military death toll in Afghanistan reached 2000. It is a heartbreaking statistic that reflects the consequences of a war that has been managed to fit political considerations rather than a strategic goal or a plan to win. Generals in the field requested 120,000 troops for the surge. They would have settled for 90,000 troops. Instead, they got 33,000 troops for a limited time, politically calculated rules of engagement and a timetable for withdrawal that encourages our enemies and undermines the kind of cooperation that was successful in Iraq because local Afghanistan tribal leaders know if they cooperate with NATO forces America will not be there to protect them after 2014. This was President Obama's "important" war. It is yet another example of the incompetence of this President and his foreign policy. The failure of a policy of appeasement has created growing global instability, and increasing hostility and disrespect towards the United States. Training of Afghan troops and police forces has been suspended because of "green on blue" or insider attacks. We have the best soldiers in the world. They are all patriots and heroes. It is their sacrifices that have insured democracy and liberty and kept America free. They should not be sacrificed for politics. Someone needs to ask the question, what is our strategic goal? What is the exit strategy? Is it just to fill the time for this artificial deadline for withdrawal? If our troops cannot train the Afghanistan forces to be self-sufficient, if the administration has not set a goal to declare victory, if the timetable for withdrawal undercuts the ability to recruit local cooperation, if there is no strategic plan to create an environment of stability, if they are encumbering our troops with politically calculated rules of engagement, why are they still there? President Eisenhower once said, "I have never seen a pessimistic general win a battle." You will never see a pessimistic President win a war, and certainly not one motivated by the political consequences of policy rather than the pursuit of a strategic objective. Yesterday's offering.
In short, whether or not you agreed with Obama's assessment that this is an "important war", you can't possibly agree with his judgment to withdraw now at the worst possible moment.
Obama decided that we needed to up our presence in Afghanistan with a major surge, but just as it was achieving some tangible success, he decided to pull the troops out:
Yet Washington seems preoccupied with fulfilling the president's promise to withdraw most U.S. forces by 2014. The premature withdrawal of the surge forces in the middle of the fighting season has seriously hampered our ability to capitalize on these changes and turn them into stable gains. The situation in the east remains precarious. And it remains to be seen whether the south can be held at post-surge force levels.
What is clear is that we are rushing to judgment. We are looking for success too quickly and abandoning hope too soon. The outcome remains balanced on a knife's edge, but a collapse on the ground is unlikely as long as we remain active and partnered with the Afghan security forces and people.
Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups will almost certainly re-establish sanctuaries in the wake of our retreat--as they are actively trying to do while we are still there--if we do not finish setting conditions to prevent that outcome. Given those stakes, it is imperative that we persevere as long as there is still a viable path to achieving our core national security objectives. There is.
Certainly, there are more examples of the administration's widespread foreign policy failures than these. Nevertheless, in recent presidential contests, the Democrats -- knowing that most American eyes glaze over at debates about foreign policy -- have alternated their approach. On one hand they blather utopian slogans of the "Can't we all get along", "Give Peace a Chance" ilk. Then they preen about their "experience" which amounts to little, really, and finally, they bruit clearly unconvincing puffery about protecting U.S. interests, and superior knowledge of foreign affairs. Picture John Kerry to see what I mean.
But this time, there won't be any purchase in that. Any claim by Obama in these debates that he has demonstrated better judgment than Mitt Romney in foreign affairs is clearly unpersuasive. His experience is no factor either -- all of it has been of disastrously failed policies.
In the meantime others look at the inconclusive polls, ignore the 2010 Democratic wipeout, the 41 million tea party activists still revved up and likely to vote against Obama and the Republicans' excellent ground game, which seems to have now established a voter registration advantage.
The first debate was Obama's best chance to reverse the growing Romney tide, but he failed: mene mene tekel upsharin. In my opinion the writing is on the wall: Obama's toast.
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