Friday, July 25, 2014
Obama's Disconnect a Grand Illusion?
Maybe it's an illusion?
Maybe he's secretly networking with world leaders to try and confidentially resolve some of these issues. To the public, however, maybe the White House is tricking us by conveying the appearance that he's disconnected and ineffectual.
If President Obama really is hard at work behind the scenes, trying to broker stability, humanity, and the rule of law where precious little currently resides, then he's a master at casually projecting a low profile.
And if Oval Office staffers are actually trying to hide the President's stressful schedule, they're doing a spectacular job.
After all, simply from the way people are acting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, you'd never know our world is in such turmoil.
Yesterday in Iraq, ISIS blew up the tomb reputed to have housed the remains of a famous religious figure for both Jews and Christians. Do you remember the Biblical account of Jonah and the whale? Well, the traditional site of Jonah's grave had been revered for thousands of years in Iraq's Nineveh province, until the ultra-radical Muslim extremists raided the area, and forced all Christians to leave during the past week. Now that the Christians have fled - after having all of their belongings and property confiscated - ISIS is in the process of either destroying or converting churches and other Christian facilities into extremist mosques.
And the White House has been silent as these ancient antiquities have been seized, and minority groups stripped of their rights, and forced to relinquish everything they'd owned. Yes, Christians have been a minority in Iraq for centuries, but does this White House regularly ignore the plight of the world's minority groups? Earlier this week, the President signed an executive order that ostensibly will protect the civil rights of the three percent of our population who may work for government contractors. He says we can't ignore even the smallest of minority groups. But he figures Iraq can?
ISIS has also ordered that millions of women in Iraq undergo female circumcision, a barbaric form of torture that the United Nations technically forbids. Yet again, the White House has been silent, even as Democrats in the Senate this week began another push for ratification of a UN treaty that could undermine parental authority and encourage the practice of abortion.
Apparently, we really can pick and choose which UN mandates we want to embrace.
Meanwhile, over in Gaza, Hamas continues to store its weapons near schools, hospitals, and safe houses, as well as in tunnels running under private property owned by people who have no idea they're sitting ducks for Israel's air defenses. For his part, Obama's secretary of state has been plotting with Egypt on terms for a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, but with so much of this current administration's foreign policy in disarray, nobody's expecting much of anything good from Cairo. Like the Egyptians are an authority on peace, stability, and human rights anyway.
In Ukraine, reporters are still marveling that the nine-mile-long debris field from flight MH17 remains virtually unguarded, even as aviation experts are marveling that the Malaysian plane's black boxes have been secured without any apparent sabotage. But while the President has wagged his finger at Russia's Vladimir Putin for possibly having provided anti-aircraft weaponry to an under-trained insurgency in Ukraine, America's expertise in protecting the world's commercial air space is going without a voice in the Executive Branch.
Maybe it doesn't matter that President Obama hasn't come out as the lead critic of Putin's puppeteering in Ukraine, since the conflicts between Russia and its former republics have festered for centuries, meaning that one politician today won't win peace in that region. But didn't the rest of us get dragged a little closer to Russia's machinations for power when a civilian plane got shot out of the sky in an area rife with Russian military hardware? Maybe the black boxes are for the Dutch to decode, but is somebody like Putin going to respect such minority governments on the world's stage as the Netherlands and Malaysia?
Funny how Obama was so keen to aid the rebels in Syria and Egypt, and is now so quiet. Has he suddenly become an isolationist?
Maybe he's just scaling back his sphere of influence. Over in the West Wing today, President Obama appears to be concentrating on our newly-arrived juvenile guests from Central America. He's playing host to the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador; three countries whose youths are swamping America's border with Mexico. According to the White House public schedule for today, their meeting is scheduled to last for approximately 45 minutes, followed by a press conference.
Here again, however, the President's enthusiasm seems strained. Does 45 minutes sound like a lot of time to hash out some workable solutions for staunching the flow of illegal juvenile migrants to our country, addressing the humanitarian crises that ostensibly are forcing these kids from their homes and families, and arranging to get these kids back to their home countries, all while making sure they have good opportunities for growing up safe and healthy in Central America?
There are only two items on the White House agenda for today, so doesn't it seem as though the President should have been able to find more time to tackle these tough issues, especially since politicians from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the political aisle says this is all about protecting these poor children?
Maybe the President figures he already knows what these Central American leaders are going to say. The Washington Post interviewed Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez yesterday, and he was dismissive of the illegality of crossing national borders without permission, focusing on the human toll of treating children like they are criminals. He also complained about the United States forcing the migrant children to turn around and return to countries like Honduras.
"From Mexico, they come in buses, in big numbers," Hernandez bemoaned, talking about the children being repatriated into his country. "We’ve had to triple the size of our centers in order to receive these people. They’re coming en masse, but we’ve said that we need to be careful in order to respect their human rights."
Oh, isn't that magnanimous of the Honduran president? Trying to teach us about human rights when he presides over a country apparently awash in corruption, human trafficking, and violent crime, that these kids say they need to flee to stay alive.
Of course, President Obama has refused to visit our border with Mexico to witness this humanitarian crisis first-hand, even though he's been invited to do so by both Republicans and Democrats in Texas. So even though his visit today with Central American leaders may be more photo op than anything else, perhaps he figured it would be a waste of time to listen to these guys pontificate on their own hollow rhetoric so they could all avoid dealing with the core issues creating this crisis.
On the home page of WhiteHouse.gov today, there's a huge banner with a dominant graphic containing the definition of "inversion," which, according to the White House, is "a type of corporate tax loophole."
Under the "Popular Topics" section of their home page, the White House has promos for the US-Africa Leaders Summit, and something called "My Front Porch," where the President invites people to share "how their days look." Whatever that means.
There's also a blurb about "President Obama is committed to making this the most open and participatory administration in history."
Open and participatory?
In all fairness, plenty of conservatives have complained for years that they wished President Obama would simply do nothing, because they feared anything he'd do would be bad, or immoral, or wrong for our country. So to a certain extent, as our world continues to experience some pretty unsettling crises, conservatives should be glad that Obama isn't trying to claim the spotlight and foist his opinions and objectives on our country and our planet. Perhaps Obama figures that no matter what he does, his critics will never be satisfied.
Yet, if he's committed to an open and participatory presidency, his distance from the world stage must be an illusion, right? We're simply not seeing all that he's doing.
That's some trick.