“The bear is loose!” President Obama has been saying, whenever he leaves the White House to visit Starbucks, or sandwich shops, or burger joints, or BBQ shacks, or neighborhood diners, in his increasingly rote and pathetic attempts to “connect” with “real people.” Obama, we have been told, is frustrated, “restless,” bored with the responsibilities and chores of office. He thinks of himself as the bear—intimidating, wild, untamed, roving—escaping his den. But he is flattering himself. Obama is not the bear. He is the cub: aimless, naïve, self-interested, self-indulgent, irresponsible, irresolute. The bear is in Moscow.
Clemens Wergin is something of a contrarian. A German editor of the Die Welt newspaper group, he often found himself defending American foreign policy against European criticism. He would chide his countrymen for neglecting their dependence on the U.S. armed forces. He would lampoon the European belief that moral grandstanding makes for a foreign policy. He would praise American leaders for having the courage to make costly decisions.
“I’ve got a little list,” sang Ko-Ko in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado. I have got—or, more accurately, I am on—about 20 of them: Email newsletters to which I subscribe, and which appear in my inbox throughout the day. How I made it through life without all of these lists, which bring me the latest news on economics, politics, literature, foreign policy, defense, and media, I do not know. I am not quite sure how I will make it through life with them, either.
“Email newsletters, an old-school artifact of the web that was supposed to die along with dial-up connections, are not only still around, but very much on the march,” writes David Carr of the New York Times. And newsletters, in my experience, are not lone wolves. They overwhelm.
The situation on the ground: Iraq in flames. The black flag of al Qaeda over Sunni-majority cities, Shiite militias cleansing Baghdad neighborhoods of other sects and ethnicities, car and suicide bombs exploding daily, the government of Nouri al-Maliki looking insolent and ineffective, the Kurds hinting at independence. Civil war. Iranian meddling. American defeat.
The facts are these. In 1975, before she married Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham defended a child rapist in Arkansas court. She was not a public defender. No one ordered her to take the case. An ambitious young lawyer, she was asked by a friend if she would represent the accused, and she agreed. And her defense was successful. Attacking the credibility of the 12-year-old victim on the one hand, and questioning the chain of evidence on another, Clinton got a plea-bargain for her client. He served ten months in prison, and died in 1992. The victim, now 52, has had her life irrevocably altered—for the worse.
On June 12, as al Qaeda forces marched toward Baghdad, John McCain spoke on the Senate floor. Noting that the al Qaeda affiliate ISIS has conquered a third of Iraqi territory, has overrun the city of Mosul, has captured abandoned American equipment, and has stolen more than $400 million in cash reserves, McCain said that the enemies of the United States are on the verge of a strategic victory. Only a major course correction, McCain went on, might prevent the emergence of an al Qaeda state that stretches from eastern Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad. “It’s time that the president got a new national security team,” he said.
Referring to the administration, one Democrat said to Politico: “I wouldn’t be surprised if they looked at the next three years and think, ‘Oh my God, how are we going to survive the next 36 months of this bullshit?” Good question—one the president seems intent on answering by not caring, by retreating into his comfy and unthreatening cocoon of affluent bourgeois liberals from around the world. The rest of us have to live with the consequences.
The phrase “offshore balancing” did not appear in President Obama’s commencement address at West Point. It did not have to. Obama’s every word was informed by the idea that America should renounce nation-building, extended deployments, base construction, and other elements of hard power in favor of diplomacy, military-to-military partnerships, multilateral institution-building, and soft-power in general. “Just because we have the best hammer,” the president said in a particularly insipid use of cliché, “does not mean that every problem is a nail.”
An intellectually stimulating and potentially historic event was held at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday. House majority leader Eric Cantor, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, and Senators Mike Lee and Tim Scott appeared alongside conservative thinkers and journalists such as Arthur Brooks, Ross Douthat, Reihan Salam, Ramesh Ponnuru, Peter Wehner, Yuval Levin, and Kate O’Beirne to discuss “solutions for the middle class.” The AEI panel was noteworthy not only for its content but also for the presence of Republican elected officials. It was the debut, however modest, of “reform conservatism” as a political force.
Reading the New York Times’ report on the defenestration of the paper’s executive editor, Jill Abramson, and the coronation, at a hastily arranged meeting Wednesday, of her replacement Dean Baquet, I could not escape the feeling that the Soviet press must have covered the comings and goings of Politburo members in much the same way.