President Obama has spent much of the past six months talking about all the things he inherited from George Bush. Unfortunately there are a lot of things he did not inherit from Bush, among them how to be the leader of the free world. The uprising in Iran has revealed Obama’s lack of leadership, but even worse, an apparent weakness when it comes to speaking up for freedom for everyone in the world.
Obama’s stated willingness to sit down and negotiate with Iranian madman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions was a source of concern for many Americans during the election, but “hope’n change” was evidently more important to the majority of voters . Not surprisingly we now have a president who stayed silent on the protests in Iran for days, then issued only a tepid statement, followed by several similar comments.
Those on the left, and some on the right, have praised President Obama’s approach. George Will said, “The president is being roundly criticized for insufficient rhetorical support for what's going on over there. It seems to me foolish criticism. The people on the streets know full well what the American attitude toward that regime is, and they don't need that reinforced.”
I don’t know that the people on the streets do “know full well what the American attitude toward that regime is.” They know what it was. (Does “axis of evil” ring a bell?) But maybe they also know how strongly President Obama has denounced his predecessor’s approach to foreign policy and his world view in general. Add to that Obama’s recent response to the protests and there are probably a lot of people around the world who don’t “know full well” what the American attitude now is.
President Bush spoke forcefully, and often, about freedom and liberty and democracy. The often tongue-tied public speaker Bush was most eloquent and at ease when talking about those principles. His desire to see freedom and democracy spread throughout the world is deeply heartfelt and that was evident in his speeches.
Ken Wheaton wrote about Obama’s response on his blog, “We don’t have to bomb Iran. We don’t have to be bellicose. A statement of support from the United States would show that our government actually cares about the PEOPLE of Iran. God knows that Americans of all stripes–via Twitter and other media–are making that clear…As someone said yesterday, “He’s trying to vote ‘present,’ but he can’t.” He’s the president now, not a junior senator from Illinois. He should act like it.”
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