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‘Adults In Wonderland’
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Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
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"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL" - 10-12-07
"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
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Attractive, hardbound copies of “Life With Marian”—a book which a good many readers have said they would be interested in owning—are still available for purchase (for $22.50) at The Bookworm in Countryside Village. If more convenient, you can now also send a check payable to Harold W. Andersen for $26.66 (includes tax and postage) and mail to me at P.O. Box 27347, Omaha, NE, 68127. A copy will be sent by return mail.
April 16, 2009
Was it a bow—half a bow, quarter of a bow, no bow at all—which President Obama made when he was introduced to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia?
And was the president really representing the feelings of the American people when he said, in addressing the Turkish Parliament, that America is "not at war with Islam."
More than a few Americans were offended by the thought that an American president would bow—or even half bow—to a foreign monarch.
To me this is a matter of no significance. But "war with Islam" is quite another matter.
A great many Americans, in my opinion, don't share the president's views about Islam—a religion based in substantial degree upon willingness to wage "holy war"—terrorism emphatically include—on "infidels"—that is, non-Muslims.
I agree with those who feel that before we assure Muslims of "our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith", we need considerably better evidence that Muslims are as willing to live and let live as are the people of the rest of the world who long ago gave up the idea of "holy war."
* * *
When does news media coverage of President Obama turn from objective reporting into something more like idolatry?
It happens regularly on the Cable News Network (you know, the news network that demonstrates its good taste by showcasing, among others, a female commentator whose regularly-repeated motto is "No bias, no bull").
Prime recent example of CNN's "non-bias" was a panel of commentators put together one recent evening in the wake of the Navy's splendid performance in liberating the captain of the American freighter who had been held captive by three pirates on a small boat after he had led his crew in beating off the pirates' effort to take over the ship.
The subject of the panel, announced by the CNN anchorman, was whether liberation of the captain—Navy Seals sharpshooters killed the three pirates holding him—improved President Obama's international standing as an effective leader.
CNN's political editor said the episode had certainly improved Obama's international standing as a decisive leader. It is often a sign of "strong leadership" to delegate responsibility, as Obama did in this case, the political editor said.
A female CNN commentator's judgment: "Oh, yes, it enhances Obama's status as a leader. The administration made a good call. It was a wise decision to let the Navy handle it."
One might say it was the obvious only rational decision. Does that reflect "wisdom"?
The role of the White House in taking the pirates out and liberating Capt. Richard Phillips consisted of giving the Navy authority to use deadly force if the captain appeared to be in imminent danger. The naval personnel on the scene on the USS Bainbridge observed one of the pirates with an automatic weapon pointed at Captain Phillips' back. Orders were given to take the pirates out, Three Navy Seals sharpshooters promptly did so, simultaneously shooting each of the three pirates in the head.
It seems to me that if there was any reputation enhancement growing out of this episode, it involved primarily the reputation of merchant seaman Capt. Richard Phillips and the United States Navy, including especially the Navy Seals.
Unlike CNN, Obama, to his credit, put responsibility for the rescue in proper perspective with these words:
"I'm very proud of the efforts of the U.S. military and many other departments and agencies that worked effectively to resolve this situation. I share our nation's admiration for Captain Phillips' courage and leadership, selfless concern for his crew."
* * *
I have, of course, no way of verifying this, but I believe that golf continued to be played all over the world this week even though Tiger Woods last Sunday finished tied for seventh in the Masters Tournament.
I don't know whether I'm in the minority, but count me among those who weary of seeing a golf tournament brushed off by the news media if Tiger isn't a participant and media overplay of Tiger's involvement—good results or bad—when he does participate.
Certainly the closing 67 by Phil Mickelson and Tiger's 68 added excitement to the 73rd Masters tournament.
But at crunch time, Mickelson hit the ball in the water on the famous par 3 Number 12 and bogeyed 18, while Woods shot two back-to-back bogies on 17 and 18. Certainly an anti-climatic way for either of them to close their drives for another green jacket.
Please understand that I think Tiger Woods has, overall, been a positive influence for golf. He certainly has stirred greater interest in the game. But I'm not one of those who seems to think "Golf" is now spelled "Woods."
* * *
A "News Analysis," a label which The New York Times uses in an attempt to justify reportorial opinion in its news columns, appeared under this headline: "Obama Ties U.S. to World." The column began:
"In his debut on the international stage, President Obama presented himself as a leader of an America that can no longer go it alone."
America has gone it alone? Nonsense. In the more than 60 years since American forces liberated much of the Pacific and most of Europe by our involvement in World War II, America has hardly "gone it alone" on the world scene.
Without American involvement, there would have been no United Nations, no NATO, no World Bank, no International Monetary Fund, no Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe, no freedom for the Russian-controlled countries behind the Iron Curtain which were liberated because of America's pressure on the Soviet Union, less likelihood that China would be playing its present role on the world stage.
All of this was certainly not an example of "going it alone," on the international stage. Leadership, yes, but in instance after instance the leadership was welcomed.
The New York Times article ran over to an inside page, and there you could find more objectivity, as in this paragraph:
"Mr. Obama emerged…from his first summit meeting with a handful of modest concrete commitments. He did not get much of what American officials had been hoping for, totally failing to persuade other countries to commit to more fiscal stimulus spending."
There was also more objective reporting in a Wall Street Journal story which said the president "emerged with some concrete achievements, in part because he lowered expectations." But there were failures, too, as in NATO's refusal to send substantial aid for the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan and France's quick rejection of Obama's urgent request that Turkey be welcomed into the European Union.
* * *
I was amused by a "lament" (The Wall Street Journal's word) with which President Obama responded to a German student's question as to whether he ever regretted his run for the presidency. Obama's reply:
"It used to be when I came to Europe, that I could just wander down to a café and sit and have some wine and watch people go by, and go into a little shop, and watch the sun go down. Now I'm in hotel rooms all the time."
Obama's "lament" reminded me of what respected political commentator David Gergen said recently on CNN: "He clearly enjoys being president."
I was reminded, too, of the way New York Times columnist Gail Collins ended a column which she had started with this recital of Obama's frenzied (my word) eight-day overseas trip:
"…he visited six countries, held 25 meetings…and two town halls. He attended three summits and several receptions, gave two speeches, laid a wreath, walked across a bridge, took several tours of spots of local interest and made a quick stop in Iraq before arriving home," in time for a Passover Seder dinner at the White House with representatives of the American Jewish community.
Collins ended her column thus:
"Maybe Obama will celebrate the Fourth of July by setting off fireworks in every state of the Union, even the ones that make him bring his own sparklers."
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