Steyn: 'American Ineffectualism'

Rick Moran
Mark Steyn, writing at NRO, has some choice words about Vladimir Putin's ascendancy over President Obama:

As Iowahawk ingeniously summed it up, Putin is "now just basically doing donuts in Obama's front yard." It's not just that he can stitch him up at the G-8, G-20, Gee-don't-tell-me-you're-coming-back-for-more, and turn the leader of the free world into the planet's designated decline-and-fall-guy, but he can slough off crappy third-rate telepromptered mush better than you community-organizer schmucks, too. Let's take it as read that Putin didn't write this himself any more than Obama wrote that bilge he was drowning in on Tuesday night, when he took to the airwaves to argue in favor of the fierce urgency of doing something about gassed Syrian moppets but not just yet. Both guys are using writers, but Putin's are way better than Obama's -- and English isn't even their first language. With this op-ed Tsar Vlad is telling Obama: The world knows you haven't a clue how to play the Great Game or even what it is, but the only parochial solipsistic dweeby game you do know how to play I can kick your butt all over town on, too.

This is what happens when you elect someone because he looks cool standing next to Jay-Z. Putin is cool mainly in the sense that Yakutsk in February is. In American pop-culture terms, he is a faintly ridiculous figure, with his penchant for homoerotic shirtlessness, his nipples entering the room like an advance security team; the celebrities he attracts are like some rerun channel way up the end of the dial: Goldie Hawn was in the crowd when Putin, for no apparent reason, sang "I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill," which Goldie seemed to enjoy. In reality, Putin finds his thrill by grabbing Obama's blueberries and squeezing hard. Cold beats cool.

Charles Crawford, Britain's former ambassador in Serbia and Poland, called last Monday "the worst day for U.S. and wider Western diplomacy since records began." Obama set it in motion at a press conference last year by drawing his famous "red line." Unlike, say, the undignified scrums around the Canadian and Australian prime ministers, Obama doesn't interact enough with the press for it to become normal or real. So at this rare press conference he was, as usual, playing a leader who's giving a press conference. The "red line" line sounds like the sort of thing a guy playing a president in a movie would say -- maybe Harrison Ford in Air Force One or Michael Douglas in The American President. It never occurred to him that out there in the world beyond the Republic of Cool he'd set an actual red line and some dime-store dictator would cross it with impunity.

Since Obama never cleared the red line statement with the Pentagon, the State Department, or his own advisors, whatever trap he finds himself in is of his own doing. And the result is so utterly bereft of any advantage for America that the White House spin machine has been working overtime to try and hide the disaster. People will forget the disappearing red line, the statements about "Assad must go" and praise for the Syrian opposition. We are now partners with a guy who has killed tens of thousands of his own people - including the probability that he used poison gas on thousands of them.

Read the rest of Steyn's brilliant piece.


Mark Steyn, writing at NRO, has some choice words about Vladimir Putin's ascendancy over President Obama:

As Iowahawk ingeniously summed it up, Putin is "now just basically doing donuts in Obama's front yard." It's not just that he can stitch him up at the G-8, G-20, Gee-don't-tell-me-you're-coming-back-for-more, and turn the leader of the free world into the planet's designated decline-and-fall-guy, but he can slough off crappy third-rate telepromptered mush better than you community-organizer schmucks, too. Let's take it as read that Putin didn't write this himself any more than Obama wrote that bilge he was drowning in on Tuesday night, when he took to the airwaves to argue in favor of the fierce urgency of doing something about gassed Syrian moppets but not just yet. Both guys are using writers, but Putin's are way better than Obama's -- and English isn't even their first language. With this op-ed Tsar Vlad is telling Obama: The world knows you haven't a clue how to play the Great Game or even what it is, but the only parochial solipsistic dweeby game you do know how to play I can kick your butt all over town on, too.

This is what happens when you elect someone because he looks cool standing next to Jay-Z. Putin is cool mainly in the sense that Yakutsk in February is. In American pop-culture terms, he is a faintly ridiculous figure, with his penchant for homoerotic shirtlessness, his nipples entering the room like an advance security team; the celebrities he attracts are like some rerun channel way up the end of the dial: Goldie Hawn was in the crowd when Putin, for no apparent reason, sang "I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill," which Goldie seemed to enjoy. In reality, Putin finds his thrill by grabbing Obama's blueberries and squeezing hard. Cold beats cool.

Charles Crawford, Britain's former ambassador in Serbia and Poland, called last Monday "the worst day for U.S. and wider Western diplomacy since records began." Obama set it in motion at a press conference last year by drawing his famous "red line." Unlike, say, the undignified scrums around the Canadian and Australian prime ministers, Obama doesn't interact enough with the press for it to become normal or real. So at this rare press conference he was, as usual, playing a leader who's giving a press conference. The "red line" line sounds like the sort of thing a guy playing a president in a movie would say -- maybe Harrison Ford in Air Force One or Michael Douglas in The American President. It never occurred to him that out there in the world beyond the Republic of Cool he'd set an actual red line and some dime-store dictator would cross it with impunity.

Since Obama never cleared the red line statement with the Pentagon, the State Department, or his own advisors, whatever trap he finds himself in is of his own doing. And the result is so utterly bereft of any advantage for America that the White House spin machine has been working overtime to try and hide the disaster. People will forget the disappearing red line, the statements about "Assad must go" and praise for the Syrian opposition. We are now partners with a guy who has killed tens of thousands of his own people - including the probability that he used poison gas on thousands of them.

Read the rest of Steyn's brilliant piece.