WASHINGTON -- The traveling, never-ending campaign roadshow came home this week. The president of the United States is back in Washington from his "I like you, you like me" excellent adventure in Europe and "surprise" trip to Baghdad. It was nice of POTUS to thank the troops. He should have bowed to them instead of to King Abdullah.
Members of the O-Team -- recovering from late-night teleprompter edits, grand parties and jet lag -- now deny that the apparently obsequious gesture to the Saudi king was really a "bow." Perhaps it would be better described as a "curtsy."
Whatever it was -- the Arab press applauded the moment as servile -- it was keeping with the administration's "apologize for America first" message. Given what else happened this week, the incident may turn out to be as trivial as giving the queen of England a Chinese-made iPod as a gift from the American people.
While Mr. Obama was basking in the adulation of carefully selected Euro-crowds and genuflecting to foreign potentates (or simply "bending because he is so tall"), other (SET ITAL) really (END ITAL) bad things were happening. The North Koreans defied his warnings of "severe consequences" and test-launched a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile. In Tehran, the ayatollahs ignored his Utopian plea for "the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons" and claim to have turned on 7,000 more centrifuges to refine uranium. Somali pirates "dissed" his "deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world" and hijacked an American-flagged vessel in the Gulf of Aden.
The O-Team was so exercised over the first piracy of an American-flagged merchant vessel since 1866 that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton fired off a full rhetorical volley. While the crew was busy retaking the ship, she said that "we're deeply concerned" and "following it closely" and that "the world must come together to end the scourge of piracy."
More telling than the vacuous hot air blowing from London, Prague, Ankara, Baghdad and Washington was the defense budget presented this week. It assures adversaries and allies alike that we will be unprepared to fight a serious adversary in the future. Hollow talk, empty oratory and impossible dreams are now commonplace in American politics, but the O-Team's Euro-expedition may have set a new foreign fantasy record. Actions speak louder than words -- no matter how flowery the rhetoric.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.