When I first heard that Barack Obama said he had decided to include his middle name, "Hussein," in his swearing-in ceremony, I wondered whether the satirical Web site ScrappleFace had tricked the mainstream media.
Surely, after Obama's acolytes scolded commentators for using Barack's Muslim-sounding middle name during the campaign, the president-elect himself wouldn't so quickly reverse course. But, in fact, he did.
In an exclusive interview with the Chicago Tribune, Obama said he'll use his full name in the ceremony like every other president.
I have no problem with that, as far as it goes. But Obama went further. He's not using his middle name simply because it's his middle name, but as part of a deliberate strategy to "reboot America's image" among the world's Muslims. He also plans to deliver a major speech in an Islamic capital, possibly within the first 100 days of his presidency.
Why, you might ask, is all this necessary?
Simple: because of President Bush's myriad sins against Muslims since 9/11. The Associated Press reports, as if imparting objective fact, "The U.S. image globally has taken a deep hit during President George W. Bush's two terms in office, primarily because of opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, harsh interrogation of prisoners, the indefinite detention of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and mistreatment of inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq."
What (SET ITAL) is (END ITAL) an objective fact is that Obama is communicating that very message. In elaborating, he says we must employ a new diplomacy, which would emphasize inclusiveness and tolerance, as well as an unflinching stand against terrorism. In other words, American diplomacy under President Bush has been intolerant and noninclusive.
This is just a rehashing of the tired Democratic talking point that Bush is a go-it-alone unilateralist who didn't build a broad international coalition to join our invasion against Iraq.
Democrats always have distorted the record on this issue. Bush tried tirelessly to talk our "Old Europe" allies into joining our coalition, but many declined because of their corrupt self-interests.
Democrats were aware of this and ignored it because Old Europe's recalcitrance provided a convenient cover for them to oppose the war they wanted to oppose but were forced to support because of overwhelming public opinion. Just as with their false charge that Bush didn't try a bipartisan approach with them on domestic policy, what Democrats really meant is that Bush pursued policies with which (SET ITAL) they (END ITAL) couldn't agree -- and thus he was unilateralist, intolerant and partisan.