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Barack Obama’s “Truman Show” Presidency

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
In the film “The Truman Show,” actor Jim Carrey played lovable simpleton Truman Burbank who, unbeknownst to him, lived his entire life trapped in a television show. His wife, co-workers and friends were all actors, his entire world a finely constructed stage.

Life was good for Truman until an actor deviated from the narrative, forcing Truman to confront a reality outside the confines of his scripted life. Truman eventually realized his entire life was a lie, a highly popular fantasy that endured on the strength of the myth and the adoration of millions.

In the same way, recent events in Libya, Egypt, Indonesia and elsewhere in the Muslim world have served to destroy the façade that was and is President Obama’s presidency. Like the entertainment minds that created Truman’s world, the media has carefully constructed and scripted the Obama Presidency, maintaining the narrative that makes an otherwise failed presidency appear successful.

Looking back, it’s not hard to see how and why this occurred. Following the seas-parting pomp and circumstance of the president’s election, President Obama spoke at Cairo University on June 4, 2009 to tell the Islamic world that, echoing Bill Clinton, he felt their pain.

The Chicago by way of Hawaii, Indonesia, and Kenya politician, the first “post-racial” president, revealed that on his watch, America would be in full retreat from the “freedom agenda” advanced by the George W. Bush administration. In word and deed, America would henceforth be a reactionary actor to the recrudescence of radical forces that would eagerly fill the vacuum left by the recession of American leadership.

First came the pathetic, sophomoric mea culpa to assuage the president’s post-colonial guilt complex. Said the president, “More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.”

Continuing this astonishing apologia, President Obama said, “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.” Most Americans were rightly alarmed to hear their President moonlighting as chief spokesman for CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. More broadly, Islamists were on notice the game had changed; they had won a huge symbolic victory without firing a shot. The American president announced his priority was fighting anti-Islamic bias, not Islamist terrorism.

Second came the “don’t blame me, this won’t happen again” hand-washing for the most strategic victory for democracy in the Middle East since Israel’s victory in the Six Day War. Concerning Iraq, President Obama said, “Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible.”

The Islamists in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and France must have cheered at their amazing reversal of fortune. Whereas the previous American president declared, “Either you’re with us or you’re against us,” the new American president effectively surrendered the Middle East and North Africa and apologized for the inconvenience we had caused in liberating millions. Bullets were exchanged for tweets, force exchanged for milquetoast statements denouncing American intolerance and sympathizing with seventh-century Islamic anger.

Third came the ultimate strategic denouement. Concerning nuclear weapons, President Obama said, “No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons. And that's why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons.” North Koreans, Russians, and Iranians likely high-fived, while the Israelis revised their attack timeline. America’s arsenal would be reduced, while America’s enemies could now proliferate, plot, and plan with impunity.

But that was only the reality. The fictional narrative was far more compelling. Hence President Obama was sold as the first president to reach across the aisle, as it were, with an aggrieved Islam to usher in a new day. Yet undermining this fiction is the ultimate irony: the supposedly global citizen president, partially raised in Muslim lands and fueled by the dreams from his communist, post-colonial African father, was utterly and totally clueless about the convictions and aspirations of the very people with which he sought rapprochement.

That is to say, for all the feints towards multilateralism, international comity, and cross-racial, religious and cultural coming together, Barack Obama’s confused message of American decline found as little resonance in Canton as it does in Cairo.

That is why the radicals and extremists neither fear nor respect President Obama’s America. For all the supposed majesty of his rhetoric and authority the office of the presidency confers upon him, his ambivalence concerning American authority falls on deaf ears abroad. In his historical apologies and moral equivalence, American’s enemies hear only weakness and opportunity. Hence, they murder an American ambassador left exposed by a weak and rudderless administration. Facing no sanction for this heinous crime, they further riot at the embassies of America and its allies around the world because they understand what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton do not: there is no harmonizing fundamental American values, i.e. free speech, and radical, Islamic totalitarianism.

Consequently, when push comes to shove, it is President Obama’s America that is shoved. The campaign speeches continue, as does America’s decline abroad. Examples abound. President Obama adopts a facile “reset” policy with Russia, then Vladimir Putin promptly kicks USAID out of the country after being promised more “flexibility” in Obama’s second term. President Obama withdraws troops from the strategic theaters of Iraq and Afghanistan, and inexplicably “pivots” towards China, which currently poses no clear military threat. President Obama sends drones to kill terrorists in Yemen, but he cannot utter a coherent statement about America’s role in the world and the necessity of its leadership abroad. This failure to defend, rhetorically or militarily, American values and our allies is wreaking havoc everywhere radicalism is not challenged.

As a result, radical Islamists and other malefactors see in Barack Obama the same weakness and ambivalence that occasions the Islamization of Western Europe. The Levant penetrates into the heart of secular Europe without a shot being fired, and Barack Obama stands idly by while a bloodless revolution gathers across the Atlantic, aided and abetted by a passivity borne of postmodern moral relativism and strategic cluelessness.

Yet despite the poisonous fruits of President Obama’s blinkered, benighted insularity, he will never know why they still hate him and the country he leads. Thankfully, the tragedy occasioned by the fictions and fantasies of the Obama administration need not endure. Truman Burbank eventually realized his life was a lie. He managed to escape and see the broader world as it actually was, rather than as others wished him to see it.

This November, Americans have a similar opportunity to cast aside the tragic delusions of Barack Obama and choose a president who understands America’s greatness, argues without apology for its exceptionalism, and realizes the necessity of its influence abroad, and acts accordingly. Honoring the memory of murdered Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens, and all other Americans who have needlessly perished as a result of President Obama’s grave incompetence, demands no less.

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