WASHINGTON -- According to the mighty Wurlitzer in the White House press office, this week's penitent presidential venture to the Middle East has been "historic" and a "new beginning" for our relationship with Islam. Unfortunately for Mr. Obama -- and his campaign promise to make a major speech in a Muslim capital -- Osama bin Laden didn't play along. That's the trouble with homicidal megalomaniacs; they very often don't abide by the rules of "acceptable behavior."
As the Grand Apology Tour swept into Saudi Arabia, the al-Qaida terror chieftain released yet another diatribe on audiotape, condemning "U.S. aggression" in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Though Mr. Obama's carefully scripted "grand gesture" before a thoroughly screened audience in Cairo was simultaneously translated into a half-dozen tongues and broadcast around the world, it wasn't enough to push the bin Laden commentary off Islamic Web sites. That's because bin Laden gets it and Mr. Obama doesn't.
Osama bin Laden doesn't make any apologies for who he is or for the violence he advocates. He is a vicious religious extremist and is proud of the sanguinary carnage he has wrought against thousands of innocent Muslims, infidels in general, and Americans and Jews in particular. He knows his audience is but a tiny fraction of the world's 1.4 billion Muslims, and he is well aware that if only 0.1 percent of them become "jihadists," he will have succeeded. Bin Laden doesn't want to be liked. He wants to be feared.
Mr. Obama, on the other hand, is desperate for affirmation -- thus his repeated references to his "Muslim father" and "the Holy Quran" in an effort to "bond" with his Islamic audience. To demonstrate empathy with "our Arab allies" -- and show improvement from his predecessors -- he did not visit Israel and pointedly condemned Israeli settlements, which, he said, "undermine efforts to achieve peace." To further establish how "different" he is, Mr. Obama has become very deft at distorting the truth to serve his own ends.
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.