It was a big issue during the campaign…experience. Hillary used it against Obama, and so did McCain and Palin. He has no executive experience. The argument didn’t fly with the voters. Nonetheless, we now have a President who is in the first 10 days of office, and the first 10 days of being in charge of something. In this case, the chief executive of the world’s most powerful nation. I wondered how long it would take for that lack of experience to show, and now just 10 days into it and I have two examples.
First, the run-in with Rush Limbaugh. Someone in Obama’s administration needs to recommend that he NOT respond to any comment that a radio or TV personality or journalist makes about him. Barack Obama is the President. He will be criticized. There will be negative comments hurled his way. You don’t get down in the mud with them. Stay above it or else you risk diminishing yourself. He did it during the campaign by mentioning Sean Hannity, and now he is doing it by mentioning Limbaugh. I can’t remember a single time when Bush called out a journalist by name during his presidency, and there were plenty of opportunities. When you acknowledge the negative comments, you look weak. You look thin-skinned. You look overly sensitive, like someone who can’t take it. This is not reassuring when you’re the man who will have to deal with folks like Putin, Ahmedinejad, Kim Jong Il, Castro, Chavez and Bin Laden. If Limbaugh gets under your skin, how will you respond to these nuts?
And for the record, I saw Limbaugh’s comments and they weren’t that bad. He was taken out of context to be portrayed as someone who wishes the President an ill-fate. The portrayal was unfair. Obama should know this and let it go.
The second example is his recent interview with Al-Arabiya television. I commend Obama for taking this step. I think it’s good to engage the Muslim community, to reach out and maintain dialogue, to make it clear that the US doesn’t have a problem with the Muslim faith and that we’re not engaging in a holy war. In my mind, that can’t be stated enough. I’m sure Bush would have given such an interview if he was sure that the Arab press would have given him a fair shake. But that was a fat chance. So Obama had a good opportunity and giving the interview was a good thing, but what he said missed the mark. It was fumbled. It was a big-time missed opportunity.
Obama seemed to be apologetic for America’s actions. He said we were dictatorial and needed to listen more, among other things. He spoke ABOUT America, rather than FOR America and his comments weren’t exactly flattering but rather seemed to reinforce the inaccurate stereotype that the Muslim community holds towards America. I must ask: Why do we need to apologize to Muslims? Consider our recent history. We supported the Afghanis against the Soviets; we aided the Bosnians against the Christian Serbs; we supported the Chechens against Russian aggression; we rushed to aid the Kuwaitis against Iraqi aggression; we sent aid to the tsunami victims; we helped the Somalis; we drove Syria out of Lebanon; we helped broker peace deals between Israel and the Palestinians and, oh yeah, we brought liberty to 50 million Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq. Did I miss something? Where exactly did we give the impression that we have a problem with, or don’t support the Muslim faith?
In the days after 9/11, Bush made it abundantly clear that we are not to condemn an entire religion based on the actions of a radical few. Yet the Muslim community developed the notion that Bush, and America, was against them somehow. Is this America’s fault? Or is it simple ignorance and a result of propaganda meant to stir anti-America sentiment?
Obama would have been wise to point out a few of the historical moments that I mentioned as a reminder to the Muslim audience that America has done some rather great things on behalf of Muslims. Instead, he chose to describe us as dictatorial, and suggest a “that-was-then-this-is-now” persona that HE will change. Worst of all, his words and general tone suggested that he views America and Arab nations on equal footing, that we are all on the same level and should interact with each other on such a level, that we should “listen” more and work to correct the mistakes of the past. Excuse me, Mr. President, but you’re talking about countries that mistreat women, are run by the theocrats, and have virtually no interest in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or freedom of the press, not to mention individual civil liberties. We are not equals and should never pretend to be until these things are corrected. Maybe, just maybe, these countries don’t like us BECAUSE of our liberties, the very liberties they deny their own people.
I was very disappointed in this interview. He was speaking directly to Muslims and he flubbed it. Tell them that America stands for liberty for all, for individual civil rights, for peace and prosperity. Tell them the things that the radicals won’t tell them about America. Tell them we want them to prosper and want them to be free to practice their religion peacefully, that we’re not waging war on Muslims, that we’re fighting the radicals on BEHALF of Muslims. But don’t tell them that we screwed up and HE will soon fix it. Good grief! It’s hard enough overcoming the radical propaganda without our own President giving it leverage!
Inexperience. Hopefully that’s the reason behind these missteps. Hopefully he’ll learn from it.