This topic may be wearying for some, but the sheer number of gaffes over the past few weeks is really getting to me.
Actually, that’s not true. What’s getting to me is how the press is covering them up.
So let’s try a thought experiment. Let’s just swap some names here and imagine what world reaction would be to the following items:
1. On his first visit with U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, George W. Bush receives a variety of historic and deeply symbolic gifts. In return, he presents our closes ally with 25 DVDs that are coded for North American machines - they will not play on a British player.
2. During a St. Patrick’s Day ceremony at the White House, George W. Bush accidentally reads his own remarks and thanks himself.
3. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice presents a “reset” button to the Russian Foreign Minister – which says “overcharge” in Russian rather than “reset.” When the mistake is pointed out, she tries to joke about “overcharging,” saying “Oh, we won’t let you do that!”
4. With wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and terrorist attacks a very real danger, George W. Bush suggests making disabled veterans pay for their own health care.
5. The U.S. offers to dismantle missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic – both staunch allies – if Russia will agree to put pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program. Russia publicly declines our offer to sell out our allies.
The list goes on (tax cheats, AIG, etc.) but I’m content with these five.
Again, contemplate the reaction that would ensue had George W. Bush’s administration been involved in any of these things.
Anyone remember the pretzel? George W. Bush choked on a pretzel. Oh the laughs that ensued. Oh the number of people who chuckled that he was too stupid to even eat properly.
This stuff is much, much worse. And yet, the press is covering it up. I went looking for the tape of item 2. (the Irish Teleprompter Swap) but apparently the press has helpfully embargoed it. How nice.
You can watch item 3. on Youtube and I’ll tell you it is very painful. Regardless of what you think of her, Hillary Clinton is now our top diplomat. And whatever else she may be, she is not very diplomatic. Now I was profoundly disappointed with what Condoleeza Rice accomplished, but at least she didn’t do anything this goofy – no doubt because she actually spoke Russian and had a strong background in foreign affairs.
Remember the allegation that George W. Bush’s “cowboy diplomacy” had alienated us from Europe? I’m scratching my head, trying to think of a more studied insult than the ones we’ve just delivered (Items 1. and 5.).
And who can forget the “coffin controversy?” Remember how callous George W. Bush was supposedly being because he wouldn’t sit around and wait to pay his respects to each and every American killed in battle? Why it was outrageous! Cindy Sheehan (remember her?) got her 15 minutes over demanding a second meeting with him.
But the Bush administration would never dream of making disabled veterans pay for their own health care. Even suggesting it would have brought howls of outrage. But according to the press, Mrs. Obama is the first First Lady to really care about military families. Amazing.
I want to be clear: I’m genuinely worried about our country. This stuff is bigger than which party gets which trinkets. Mistakes like these have a way of piling up and the costs are not simply wiped away with the next election. The administration may have picked out Rush Limbaugh as Public Enemy Number One (again, can we imagine George W. Bush starting a public spat with, say, Bill Mahar? Ludicrous), but Rush is right in that one can be a patriotic American and still oppose the president’s policies.
I want America to succeed. I want our allies to trust us and our enemies to fear us.
Yet we’ve just kicked off a trade war with Mexico! Even the “Texas Village Idiot” didn’t manage that.
We’ve just got tariffs slapped on 92 exports because Congress and the administration are sucking up the Teamsters. I want that policy to fail, just as I wanted our attempted sell-out of the Czechs and Poles to fail, just as I want attempts to balance the budget on the backs of war-wounded veterans to fail.
Increasingly, my desire to see American succeed means that this president has to fail. And that’s what scares me.