The late Lloyd Bentsen is sorely needed when President Barack Obama tries to compare himself to Ronald Reagan. Mr. President, you’re no Ronald Reagan.
The New York Times recently captured Obama speaking inside the White House in an off-the-record meeting with liberal journalists. He lamented with an “edge of resentment” that he’s seen as weaker than Reagan after an Islamic suicide bomber drove a truck into a Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, killing 241 Americans.
“Mr. Obama noted acidly that President Ronald Reagan sent Marines to Lebanon only to have hundreds of them killed in a terrorist attack because of terrible planning, and then withdrew the remaining ones, leaving behind a civil war that lasted years. But Reagan, he noted, is hailed as a titan striding the earth.”
Reagan is a titan to many because he won the Cold War – ignoring the liberal Democrat and pro-“detente” Republican elites and their allegedly complex “conventional wisdom” the whole time. Unlike the “wise,” he saw the Soviet empire as decrepit and vulnerable. They perceived Reagan throughout his presidency as an amiable dunce.
Obama is judging Reagan thirty years after the events. Journalists didn’t hail him as a titan for the Marines bombing. Take NBC anchor Tom Brokaw opening up the 1988 Republican convention coverage five years later with a rhetorical jab: "In this hall tonight, you'll hear nothing of Iran/Contra, or Meese, or Deaver, or Nofziger, or the tragedy in Beirut. You’ll hear the triumphs.”
Obama looks much more like Jimmy Carter than Ronald Reagan. The Times inadvertently underlined this by bringing in Carter adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who insists Obama is “not a softy. But he’s a person who tries to think through these events so you can draw some long-term conclusions.”
I’m sure he said the exact same thing about Carter. Whether it’s Carter or Obama, they’re so brilliant that when America stumbles into decline and incompetence, the media pretend all these unfortunate events just happen to the Deep Thinker, like a car accident.
The Times recounts this presidential whining: “Oh, it’s a shame when you have a wan, diffident, professorial president with no foreign policy other than ‘don’t do stupid things,’” Obama “sarcastically” imitated his critics. “I do not make apologies for being careful in these areas, even if it doesn’t make for good theater.”
“Careful” or “professorial” are the adjectives Obama uses to describe statements that make no sense whatsoever. “Islamic State” is neither Islamic, nor a state. “War” is not a word to define the current airstrikes or deployment of more than 1,000 military advisers. Even sympathetic White House reporters are asking for an understandable set of definitions, and all they’re getting is gobbledygook.
Even Obama’s natural allies don’t see a titan in the White House. David Rothkopf, the left-leaning editor of Foreign Policy magazine and a former Clinton aide, spread the malaise: “Obama seems steadfast in his resistance both to learning from his past errors and to managing his team so that future errors are prevented. It is hard to think of a recent president who has grown so little in office.”
Obama doesn’t have a strategy to take down global jihad. He barely acknowledges it exists. The emergence of ISIS, now covering a territory in Iraq and Syria larger than Great Britain, is dragging Obama kicking and screaming back into the reality of persistent radical Islamist war on the West. No mere change in American presidents, no premature Nobel Peace Prize or Islam-pandering speech in Cairo was ever going to degrade or destroy it. Only a fool impressed with his own talents would think so.