Middle East studies in the News
When Obama is Graceless, &c. [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
by Jay Nordlinger
Yesterday, I was writing a little something about Jim Jones and Tom Donilon: The one is leaving the post of national security adviser; the other is assuming it. And I listened to a clip of President Obama, talking about this development. You can find it here. There's a video sort of embedded in the article I have linked to.
This is how Obama began his remarks: "When I took office, I pledged to do whatever was required to protect the American people and restore American leadership in the world. Over the past 20 months, that's exactly what we've done."
Did he really need to say "restore American leadership in the world"? He's not a candidate anymore. He should not be campaigning. He should not be dumping on his predecessor. I think American leadership was plentiful when George W. Bush was in the Oval Office. Obama obviously disagrees.
But, when you're president, doesn't there come a time when you stop talking that way?
One of the things I find most off-putting about Obama is his gracelessness. We have seen it in the way he has conducted himself during Election 2010 — what he has said about the tea partiers, the Chamber of Commerce, Karl Rove, etc. When he was running for president, some people praised him for a "first-class temperament." I don't know. I think even third classmight be pushing it.
A little walk down Memory Lane? I thought of something when Jones announced his resignation. In the third and final presidential debate, between Obama and McCain, the question of Obama's "associations" came up: Billy Ayers and all of those lovelies. (By the way, Rashid Khalidi has just become co-director of a new Palestinian center at Columbia University. It's all done in honor of the late Edward Said. Great, great.) Candidate Obama said,
"Let me tell you who I associate with. On economic policy, I associate with Warren Buffett and former Fed chairman Paul Volcker. If I'm interested in figuring out my foreign policy, I associate myself with my running mate, Joe Biden, or with Dick Lugar, the Republican ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, or Gen. Jim Jones, the former supreme allied commander of NATO."
A very good answer — a very effective answer. Anyway, Jones is gone now. And in his place is Tom Donilon.
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