The perils of presidential failure

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US President Barack Obama is feeling the heat. His response to the current crisis threatening to sink his one-year-old presidency is telling for what it says about the future of both his domestic and foreign policies. Israel should take heed of his responses.


Obama’s Democratic Party, and indeed the US political establishment as a whole, received a jolt on Tuesday when Republican Scott Brown won the Massachusetts seat in the US Senate that had been held by the Democratic Kennedy dynasty since 1952. The question now on everyone’s lips is whether Brown’s stunning victory will cause Obama to change his course and moderate his policies.


The Massachusetts Senate race was a real world example of what opinion polling data has shown. Since last summer, a consistently growing number of US voters oppose Obama’s policies.


Brown’s victory was nationally significant because it removed the Democrats’ filibuster proof, 60-man super-majority in the Senate. With Brown as the 41st Republican senator, the minority party can now muster the votes to block legislation from being called to a vote before the full Senate and so prevent laws from being passed.


In addition to its immediate legislative significance, the larger political importance of the Massachusetts election rests in what it signals for House and Senate Democrats who will face reelection in November. Dozens of Democratic lawmakers are reportedly now veering into full-blown panics about their prospects in those elections. As Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh put it, “If you lose Massachusetts and that’s not a wake-up call, there’s no hope of waking up.”


Tellingly, Obama and his White House advisers are refusing to “wake up.” Obama responded to Brown’s win as he has to many of his setbacks since assuming office a year ago this week. He blamed his predecessor, George W. Bush.


In an interview on Wednesday with ABC News, Obama said, “People are angry, they are frustrated. Not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years, but what’s happened over the last eight years.” 


Obama argued that the growing unpopularity of his programs is due not to substance, but to style. As he put it, “We were so busy just getting stuff done… that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values.”


Even as Democratic lawmakers are openly expressing misgivings with moving forward in implementing Obama’s radical plan to reform the US health care industry, Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod told the media that abandoning the initiative is “not an option.”


Rather than accept that Massachusetts voters elected Brown because Brown repudiated Obama’s agenda – on both domestic and foreign policy – the Obama White House has argued that Brown’s victory was simply the consequence of poor electioneering by the Democratic candidate and poor planning by the national Democratic Party apparatus.


Obama’s imperiousness is even more apparent when compared to the behavior of his predecessors in office. When in 2006 the Republicans lost control of Congress, George W. Bush responded by embracing the Democrats’ policies on everything from Iran to mortgage banks. When the Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994, Bill Clinton adopted the Republicans’ “Contract with America” as his own.


What Obama’s refusal to hear Tuesday’s “wake-up call” from Massachusetts shows is that his chief concern is not listening to what the public says. It is not even remaining in office. Rather, his behavior in the wake of the Brown victory shows that Obama’s top concern is enacting his radical political agenda. He is an ideologue first and a party leader second.


While his fellow Democrats in Congress say that Brown’s election means that Obama’s plan to nationalize one-sixth of the US economy through his health care plan is dead in the water, Obama claims the time to move forward is now. As he sees things, he has 11 months left to effect the radical change he seeks for America. 


Obama believes that plowing ahead is the only thing that will save the Democrats. As he has put it, “I… know what happens once we get… [health care reform] done. The American people will suddenly learn that this bill does things they like.”


Far from slowing down, he will redouble his efforts to ram his agenda down the throats of an unwilling populace.


ELECTIONS ARE blunt instruments, not precise readings. Voters cast their ballots for specific politicians and their political parties based on their wide perceptions of general trends rather than on specific policies related to specific issues. Candidates in turn emphasize specific issues because of what those issues symbolize about the general state of affairs.


In the US today, there is a widespread public perception that Obama and his party colleagues in the House and Senate have gone on a spending spree when what the deepening economic recession requires is frugality. Obama’s plan to spend up to a trillion dollars on nationalized health care in this economic environment is emblematic of the public sense that the national leadership is behaving irresponsibly.


A similar view pervades with respect to Obama’s foreign policy.


Speaking to National Review, Brown’s chief political strategist Eric Fehrnstrom said that “terrorism and the treatment of enemy combatants” was a “more potent issue” for Massachusetts voters than health care. If health care is emblematic of the growing perception that Obama and his fellow Democrats are irresponsible on the domestic policy front, so “terrorism and the treatment of enemy combatants” are emblematic of the public perception that Obama’s foreign policy is too weak.


The administration’s failure to detect, prevent or adequately characterize the jihadist massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, like its failure to detect, prevent or adequately handle the aftermath of the attempted airline bombing on Christmas day by a Nigerian jihadist, are viewed by Americans as proof that Obama’s foreign policy is weak and dangerous.


As with his domestic agenda, in foreign affairs as well, the clear antidote to Obama’s political woes would be to change course and moderate his policies. Were Obama interested in ensuring that the public supported and trusted his handling of American foreign policy, he would repudiate his plan to transfer terrorists now jailed at Guantanamo Bay to Yemen and cancel his plan to try senior terrorists like September 11 architect Khaled Sheikh Muhammad in civilian trials.


But rather than do so, Obama has responded to the public’s opposition to his foreign policies by doubling down. In the face of massive criticism over his administration’s decision to try the September 11 mastermind in a civilian courtroom in New York, the administration opted to treat the Christmas bomber as a criminal defendant as well. Indeed, as its top counterterror officials made clear in Senate testimony on Wednesday, the administration never considered treating the terrorist as an illegal enemy combatant.


In a related matter, on Wednesday the State Department announced that the US has dropped its opposition to permitting Islamist leader Tariq Ramadan from entering the US. Ramadan – whose grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood which spawned the likes of al-Qaida and Hamas – is a hero of the far Left in the US and Europe. He was barred from entering the US since 2004 due in part to his personal contributions to Hamas.


In short then, rather than respond to the pu
blic’s rejection of his posture of weakness abroad by replacing that posture with one of strength, Obama has ratcheted up his policy of weakness. What this shows is that like his domestic agenda, Obama’s foreign policy – including his national security policy – is the product of his firmly held beliefs and ideological commitments. Obama is weak on foreign affairs because he chooses to be weak. Through both his actions and his words he demonstrates his belief that the US must adopt a posture of contrition to make up for its past global leadership. His goal is to weaken America’s position in the international arena, because he doesn’t believe that America has a moral right to be stronger than anyone else.


Given the congressional backlash to the Massachusetts election, it is possible that Obama will be compelled to put aside his domestic initiatives, or at least to repackage them. US presidents have only a limited capacity to unilaterally implement massive changes on the domestic front. Congressional support is required for most major endeavors. Today, it seems likely that many Democratic lawmakers will refuse to fall on their swords for Obama. So his health care initiative, like his environmental and immigration agendas, may well be buried in committee.


On the other hand, the US Constitution gives the president a much freer hand in foreign affairs. And here we are likely to see a full-court presidential press to force through his radical agenda on everything from nuclear weapons to counterterrorism to appeasement of the Islamic world. Given the prominence Obama has already given to his anti-Israel posture, it can be assumed that Israel will be the focus of even more intense pressure from the White House in the months and years to come.


All of this should concentrate the minds of Israel’s leaders. They should assume that Obama’s Middle East envoy George Mitchell will intensify his pressure – and escalate his threats – on Israel to make massive concessions to the Palestinians. Indeed, given Mitchell’s trip this week to Lebanon and Syria and Obama’s refusal to end his appeasement overtures towards Iran, Israel should expect the US to expand its pressure on Israel to agree to imperil itself on all fronts.


SINCE TAKING office on March 31, the Netanyahu government has adopted two distinct policies for dealing with Obama. Until September, the government’s policy was to politely delay as long as possible its ultimate polite refusal to accept US demands for more concessions to Palestinians.


After Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Obama at the UN in September, however, he adopted a new policy of caving in to US pressure. First he announced his support for Palestinian statehood. Then he agreed to bar Jews from receiving construction permits in Judea and Samaria. Apparently, Netanyahu was led to believe that his concessions would cause Obama to ease his pressure on Israel.


But as the White House’s escalating threats and demands for new Israeli concessions in the wake of Netanyahu’s change of course demonstrates, Israel’s policy shift was counterproductive. And given Obama’s current political trajectory, Israel will be best served by a return to the government’s initial policy. Rather than seeking to placate Obama, Israel should try to wait him out. And at the same time, the government should robustly advance Israel’s national interests, both by unapologetically defending those interests in the diplomatic arena, and more importantly by adopting policies and taking action to secure and strengthen the country.


The political winds in America are blowing against Obama. Even with his relatively free hand in foreign affairs, the ill winds will necessarily slow him down. Israel should do nothing to smooth his path forward.


Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
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  • Marc Handelsman, USA 01/23/2010 at 11:31

    Due to policy blunders and missed opportunities, it appears that President Obama might be a “one-term disappointment” like President Carter. The liberals proved they are irresponsible spenders, and not well-read when it was time to closely scrutinize the “Behemoth-sized” health care legislation. It’s better for America to have conservatives retake both houses after the midterm elections in November. Prime Minister Netanyahu needs to recalibrate his approach to the Obama Administration, and choose wisely for Israel’s sake. And hopefully, President Obama will move to a smaller mansion on January 20, 2013.

  • Marcel 01/23/2010 at 11:39

    The Obama charm ,we’ve seen the end result of another crafty,smiling marxist ideologue somewhere else recently…. and how many times have we heard ‘It can’t happen here’.
    “Pol Pot is very charming. … His face, his behaviour is very polite, but he is very, very cruel.” Prince Norodom Sihanouk summing up the character of one of the worst genocidal dictators of the 20th Century
    “I admit that there was a mistake,” “But I had my ideology. I wanted to free my country. I wanted people to have well being.”
    Pol Pot’s ‘Brother Number Two’, Nuon Chea,
    Charming,evil Ideologues are not so easily stopped and they don’t play by the rules.
    The most dangerous time is now when this falling messiah plans his next moves.
    Watch,he’ll find a pretext or make one to get Alinsky across the finish line.
    Don’t underestimate evil as so often been the case.
    With a planned or unplanned catastrophic event and one executive order he can revolutionize the US into his personal well being fields.
    You have to wonder how with so many red flags the Nigerian almost blew up a plane over Detriot.The FBI and CIA can’t be this incompetent ?
    Pol Pot had his Paris student group,Obama has so much more.
    In this polluted well that is American politics keep in mind that Sen Brown is for the 2 state final solution.
    Israel is being charmed into genocide by FALSE friends.
    Nothing good will come out of the two state agenda for Israel.
    Practice saying no like other sovereign nations do on a regualr basis to Obamanation.

  • Jana Rene Funkhouser 01/23/2010 at 13:23

    President Obama’s narcissism will not allow him to even consider the possibility of personal weakness and public/foreign policy blunders. It is my hope that Bibi Netanyahu will recognize the fatal flaws and weaknesses of the Obama agenda and stand his ground against an administration which has “fallen upon its own sword!”
    Jana Funkhouser

  • Perfected Democrat 01/24/2010 at 1:51

    Another superbly detailed post by Caroline as usual (and why this is my second favorite blog), as well, all of the comments prior to my submission here. It was obvious from the beginning that Obama was the Democrat’s “Manchurian Candidate”, that although they all might not think that they are so far left that they would qualify as full blown communists, in fact they’ve been willing to sell their soul to the “devil” that is (ala Obama’s insidious suggestions of “redistribution”, for starters); pandering via little more than a shallow and evasive political sloganeering youth campaign, a kind of reverse racism (if you didn’t vote for Obama it could only be because he’s “black”), as well as the usual worn out left-wing politics of envy. For the Democrats now, left-wing ideology and party loyalty trumps traditional American values, history and alliances. It’s nothing short of shameful, especially the MSM’s tacit complicity with an agenda that is nothing short of betrayal of half the nation, as well as betrayal of current allies such as Israel, Honduras, Columbia, and eastern Europe. America’s enemies couldn’t ask for a better friend in the White House now. We’ve been long sliding down the slippery slope of feel-good politic correctness, slowly legitimizing the worst kinds of international criminal political cartels, totalitarian wannabe’s from Hugo Chavez to hezbollah. If the world hadn’t come to it’s senses post Chamberlain in the 1930’s (though actually they were forced, not inspired), nazi regimes would abound today. The lesson is apparently lost to the vacuous liberal pseudo-academics; from mainstream lawyers to journalists, who should otherwise be screaming bloody murder, literally, before all others. Although I agree completely with Marcel’s take on Brown, relative to Israel, this change in direction is a positive and profound diffusion of the danger lurking with what was, otherwise, a complete domination by the now treasonous Democratic Party. If the truth will set you free, eventually it will set everybody free. Now more than ever, Israel needs to be that light unto the nations.

  • yuval.hatikva 01/24/2010 at 12:07

    So obvious. Failure at home will drive the president and his anti-zionist henchmen to try to score where they can, Israel. Using coercion and brutal manhandling, economic diplomatic and security related means, Obama will bludgeon Netanyahu into submission
    And Netanyahu will submit for one reason. it makes sense. Nothing short of the devastation of the coastal region where the majority of peace- loving jews live will cause these peace loving jews to demand the expulsion of the Arab invader from the Land. Netanyahu may succeed where Sharon failed: Holding out and holding his breath untill such a demand is made of him under the intense pressure of general bombardment and devastation. Defensive Shield did not solve the problem, it put it off. Cast Lead did not solve the problem, it put it off. We await the Ubber stage of all out destruction because one thing has been proven beyond doubt. Jews only respond to extreme pain.

  • brdavis9 01/24/2010 at 14:58

    I’d have to disagree that the “one term disappointment” of the Carter presidency …wasn’t just one term. And wasn’t a mere disappointment, it was a catastrophe.
    The actual legacy of the Carter presidency – his foreign policy failures – culminated on September 11 2001 with the destruction of the Twin Towers in NYC.
    In a very real sense, most of the continued and continuing turmoil in the region (and exported from there to the rest of the world) is a very real result of the Carter presidency’s Mideast policy failures …and from examining Carter’s record since his time in office, appears to have been based upon a deep-rooted anti-Semitism in Carter the man. At the least, the record is clear that Carter has always hated (there is no other term that comes close) Israel.
    (Carter is not even arguably the worst president in US history to date …although Obama is making a fair bid to try and “best” that sordid “record”.)

  • Bob 01/24/2010 at 17:40

    You say one sixth of the economy on the health programme.
    I doubt it.
    The Labour Party’s introduction of the Welfare State with the National Health Service into Britain in 1948 started small and everyone welcomed it, it had to be good didn’t it?
    However that same National Health Service is now the third biggest employer in the world, behind the Chinese Red Army and the Indian National Railways, and compared to these two countries Britain is microscopic in population!
    The Welfare State (the Nanny State)in the UK of which the National Health Service is but a part is a leviathon, a huge monster. It is bankrupting this country, but what the heck, IT BUYS VOTES FOR THE RULING SOCIALIST ELITE. It also at the same time infantilises the population.
    Obama’s plan may sound small, but I guarantee that it will absolutely never stop at one sixth of the economy. Once created it becomes a living entity thet you cannot stop it or feed it enough.
    It will undoubtedly end up dwarfing the Chinese Red Army and the Indian National Railways!
    I suggest that you floating voters wake up in November if you love what America stands for.

  • Ron Grandinetti 01/25/2010 at 6:07

    Caroline the bottom line is Obama is in denial.
    Americans are fed up with politics as usual and as long as he and his cronies continue in the path of “we know what is good for you”, there will be a lot of changes in both the house and the senate.
    The truth of the matter is voters got no more than a liberal, left leaning acorn community organizing wimp, nothing more.
    He paraded in front of the TV cameras constantly and most of the time arrogant with his message he was the Messiah destined to save us.
    The more he drank his own kool-aid the more he believed in the message he was delivering (except when the teleprompter was not working.
    He will continue to blame Bush until his first and last term as president.
    Time has come to disinfect the Whitehouse and the administration.
    It will take time to repair the damage.

  • Ron Kilmartin 01/26/2010 at 1:53

    From above:
    ” Rather than seeking to placate Obama, Israel should try to wait him out. And at the same time, the government should robustly advance Israel’s national interests, both by unapologetically defending those interests in the diplomatic arena, and more importantly by adopting policies and taking action to secure and strengthen the country. ”
    You are absolutely right Caroline. Israel must stand firm against this man and his underlings. They have no sense of history or strategy or geopolitics, particularly of the Middle East.

  • TonyUSA 01/26/2010 at 21:06

    “he has 11 months left to effect the radical change he seeks for America.” (Glick)
    This is the point being missed. It’s not about simply politics as usual as seen through the eyes of mere men but something more sinister that is taking place within the office of the POTUS. The office is filled but in truth is empty of an American President if that could be understood. Propaganda abounds like never seen before in the US but definitely has in time and history. Demagogues have risen before and have come and gone. Propoganda abounds because of blindness and godlessness that eminates from the hearts of fallen men. A radical agenda is being attempted to behead Uncle Sam for good. It has nothing to do with “European socilist” political tendencies. To some it is so clear and obvious but to others it is partially obscurred. They sense the danger but view it only at a political level. They hesitate to say it plainly though given facts by the still free media to put the pieces together. It guarantees you to be in danger of being marginalized if not more. Words are carefully chosen by those who are speaking aloud on the airwaves so not to fall into those crosshairs but it is spilling out. It is too obvious before them and alarming. How much of our President’s past do you really know? Why has his American birth certificate been sealed away if indeed it exists? Have you seen papers he’s written from school that reveal his heart and ideals? What does he truly believe and has set his face like a flint to accomplish? Why is not an eye being raised at his past close ties and activity that speaks volumes as to it?
    We’ve heard the proganda of the refreshing showers of change but by God’s providence we see what is being loaded into the government pipelines that brings death and carnage to Uncle Sam’s economy. It could only spead like cyanide though his veins to every corner of his body. This is not a one man show but a collective and our elected POTUS is but the face of it manned with a teleprompter. A demagogue who’s close family friend said of him in like words that he was “the best thing to come along since white bread”. These are the affectionate words coming from an unrepentant domestic terrorist.
    Our nation has been ever growing dark and is losing it’a ability to be a salt of the world. Truly God raises nations and brings them down. He raises kings and brings them down. He gives and takes away according to His sovereign good will. Truly our hope is not in the arrogant arm of the flesh but in Him and His true Messiah to deliver us in eternity from damnation (Psalm 2). If it be His will the US will survive this seige from within and in truth from without but the time will come for our fall and the reprecussions will eminate across the world. A vacumm will be created that will bring evil like never seen before. Scott Brown’s election is a good external sign but the problem is deeply internal in our nation’s soul and it will keep rising to the surface. God is the One who has and will bring the cure that is eternal (Malachi 4).

  • Tim 01/31/2010 at 17:57

    Pastor Billy Grahams wife once said “If God doesn’t judge America He is going to owe Sodom and Gamorah an appology”. I think agenda is the true word of the day… Caroline, keep up the good fight. The only thing that keeps evil at bay is the willingness of good men and woman to stand up against it… Caroline, you are definately a good woman… God bless you and yours…

  • haroldm 02/07/2010 at 20:18

    To Caroline Glick:
    You should write an article pointing out that Israel is vital to the economy of the United States because Israel is the main country that is pushing the development of affordable electric cars (such as the Nissan Leaf which will start being sold this year). If these cars are developed they may reduce the United States foreign trade deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

  • Micheline Schwarzkopf 02/09/2010 at 0:10

    Israel should hold off for just a little longer to let our “PRESIDENT” fall by the way side. I did not vote for him, because he was vague in his race, words are there to deceive, especially used when dripping with honey. People finished Obama’s sentences for him in their own minds.
    If half our congress & Senate knew the bible, old and new, history and SHAME, they would know that Israel needs to be protected at all cost’s.
    Arabs in general, as well as some Iranian’s, not all have always been fans of “MEIN KAMPF” AND HITLER. I noticed the book in shop windows in the bazar’s while there in the late 70’s. But in your article above you quoted one of the ” holy men” saying they will see that the next haulocast will come, but the clown on the helm of his country denies the halaucast outright. Go figure.
    Europe will see their tragic errors when the Muslims take over and it will not take long. The greed and corruption is eating Europe up from within. What is your take on Germany’s Mrs. Merkel??? She promised to be a friend of Israel and to Israel, let her prove it with the needed weapons for Israel.
    The Tea Party movement in the US is getting strong and I am part of it as well, Brown and Palin are working like the dickens to bring awareness without honeycombed words. And with actions.
    What can I do to help?? I am absolutely PRO ISRAEL. Recent history sums it up nicely how the Palestinians, aka Arafat (yuck) have dealt with deceipt in the past and all over the world with terrorist attacks and always hiding behind the skirts of woman and in nursery schools, like cowards.
    Oh, I can go on. Obama has no idea what he is doing in foreign diplomacy and the Europeans already are noticing it. What a blunder our voters have created by voting for him.
    P.S. You should see the changeshis administration wants to do in school books!!!! He wants to change our history and make it Global. The antichrist????
    Keep up the good work and make sure we, the US hear your words as well. I refer to your website with friends, but finally it ll is in God’s hands, see Revelation, the last book in the New Testament, but Isaiah and Ezikiel all refered to it long before, so did Moses.
    Blessings to Israel and you and all of you fine warriors for the truth.


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