Jonah Goldberg

That should have been a warning sign. In addition to CEO of GM, Thwarter of Rising Ocean Tides and countless other duties not found in the Constitution or tradition, Obama has decided to add Defender of the Muslim Faith to his job description.

Obama was reliably Obamaesque again when he disparaged the Iraq war as a "war of choice." But wait, he also thinks Iraq is better without Saddam, so maybe it was a good choice? Apparently not: "So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other."

Now this is a real problem. Putting aside the "should" question for a moment, it is simply a fact of history that a system of government can be imposed upon one nation by another. Sometimes for the worse, sometimes not. The Soviets imposed systems of government across Eastern Europe. America imposed systems of government -- thank goodness -- in Germany, Japan and South Korea. And we imposed a system of government in Iraq and are trying to do likewise in Afghanistan.

Which brings us back to that pesky "should" part. As ever, Obama's positions on Iraq cannot be reconciled. Just as he often celebrates our troops' success but can't say we succeeded, he celebrates Iraq's democratic progress but -- hamstrung by his own ideology and pride -- won't fully acknowledge that such progress is even possible, given that it began at the point of an American gun. In short, President Obama is straddling Iraq just as candidate Obama did.

But that's the irony here. This was precisely the moment to let Obama be Obama. For instance: Yes, he is a hypocrite for downplaying his Muslim connections when running for office and then touting them once in office. But such hypocrisy is a small price to pay. If Nixon was a statesman for laying aside his anti-Communism to engage China, then surely Obama can brag about his Muslim father. Obama has a cult of personality in the Muslim street. If he can exploit it for America's and the world's benefit, he should.

I am dubious any of this will work. But if ever there was a time to let Obama be Obama, this was it.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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