Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Syndromatic Obama

From Brett Stephens op-ed, "Obama and the Copenhagen Syndrome:-

...Mr. Obama's first year in office amounts to a long parade of rebuffs.
His inaugural address famously offered the world's dictators an outstretched hand in exchange for an unclenched fist. From North Korea, he got missile and nuclear tests. From Iran, he got a contemptuous rejection of his extraordinary offer to enrich uranium for it. From Cuba, Fidel Castro said last month that "the empire's real intentions are obvious, this time beneath the kindly smile and African-American face of Barack Obama." From Venezuela, Hugo Chávez is now comparing Mr. Obama to the devil, a shtick he first tried out on George W. Bush back when liberals thought it was kind of funny.

Of course these are America's enemies, so we probably should not have expected better even if Mr. Obama seemed to believe we might. What about our (ostensible) non-enemies? The president pre-emptively conceded the Czech and Polish missile-defense bases to Russia in hopes of getting Moscow to take a tougher line on Tehran's nuclear programs. The Kremlin isn't biting. Neither is China, never mind Mr. Obama's gratuitous snub last year of the Dalai Lama.

As for the Muslim world that Mr. Obama has been at such pains to court (the Cairo and Ankara speeches, his opposition to Gitmo and the war in Iraq, etc.), the 2009 Pew Global Survey that measures opinions about the U.S. finds as follows: Turkey, 14% favorable views of the U.S.; Palestinian territories, 15%; Pakistan, 16%; Jordan, 25%; Egypt, 27%. Granted, this is up slightly from the last year of the Bush administration, but only by a couple of percentage points on average. So that's the great Obama perception dividend?

And then there are America's friends. Hondurans will not soon forgive the administration's efforts to shove ex-president Manuel Zelaya down their throats. Among Israelis suspicion of Mr. Obama is pervasive. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wonders aloud, "Est-il faible?" (Is he weak?)

Now the same question is being asked in the U.S. in the wake of Scott Brown's Senate victory in Massachusetts. The president from Oprah Nation, says Newsweek, suffers from an "inspiration gap"; the prevailing wisdom is that he's too cool and detached for his own political good. Are they kidding? Should the president now take squealing lessons from Howard Dean?

Mr. Obama's real problems are of a different stripe. It's not as if he lacks for charisma. It's that he believes too much in the power of charisma itself and specifically too much in his own...


By the way, is syndromatic a real word?

I think so:

Syndromatic treatment refers to the practice of treating people for sexually transmitted diseases based on their symptoms. It is usually done in low-resource settings where the cost of testing is prohibitive or where it is difficult to get people to come back for test results.



(Kippha tip: BPO)