New York Times: Is Our Miraculous President Just Performing Too Many Miracles?

In a pretty good history of the Obama administration's response to the so-called Arab Spring in 2011, Helene Cooper and Robert F. Worth of The New York Times get a choice quote about the miraculously transformative powers of President Obama's powerfully transformative miraculousness: 

Mr. Obama felt keenly, one aide said, the need for the United States, and for he himself, to stand as a moral example. "He knows that the protesters want to hear from the American president, but not just any American president," a senior aide to Mr. Obama said. "They want to hear from this American president." In other words, they wanted to hear from the first black president of the United States, a symbol of the possibility of change.

It comes as no surprise that Obama felt the need for his magical presence "keenly," but what's kind of disappointing is that Cooper and Worth seem equally convinced that, when he's not causing the sun to rise in the morning, This American President can engineer outcomes in faraway lands. The Times describes how Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey D. Feltman and others cautioned against publicly urging then-president of Egypt Hosni Mubarak to resign: 

Mr. Mubarak had steadfastly stood by the United States in the face of opposition from his own public, they said. The president, officials said, countered swiftly: "If 'now' is not in my remarks, there’s no point in me going out there and talking."... 

So "now" stayed in Mr. Obama’s statement. Ten days later, Mr. Mubarak was out. 

Undoubtedly protesters and leaders in other countries pay some attention to what the President of the United States says. They hardly have a choice on that matter. Unlike the spectacularly uninformed Obama voters interviewed in New York for the Howard Stern show, they actually have to worry about U.S. policy. 

But this is the flipside of the Krauthammerian argument that Obama's policy of weakness and appeasement is responsible for the current unrest in the Islamic world (where, confusingly, the U.S. ambassador was killed in the one country whose leader Obama used armed force to overthrow). It's absurd to believe that Mubarak, or for that matter Zine El Abidine Ben Ali or even Ferdinand Marcos, would have stayed in power without an American shift. If the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq haven't taught you that even American power has limits, you're unteachable. 

"In the end, many of the advisers who initially opposed Mr. Obama’s stance now give him credit for prescience," Cooper and Worth write. "But there were consequences, and they were soon making themselves felt." 

There may have been consequences, but they're more in the nature of making American allies realize that they don't have a very reliable friend – something close watchers of U.S. foreign policy should have realized long before Obama came into office. Whatever you want to say about Benjamin Netanyahu (and who wouldn't rather party with Jay Z than meet the dour Israeli PM?), he stuck by Mubarak after the whole world had turned against him. Obama's shift may not show much steadfastness, but it was part of a long pattern of U.S. patronage, and it had about as much effect as his sniveling denunciation of religious slander at the United Nations this morning will have the next time some mob burns down a Coptic church. 

Courtesy of JPod's Twitter feed

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  • The Late P Brooks||

    Not just any tent-show snake handler...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't want to live in a world where the leader of its free part is impotent.

  • tarran||

    Obama is such a fucking narcissist that it's actually comical.

  • ||

    I don't think it's possible for anyone but a megalomaniac to win the presidency any more.

  • tarran||

    Well, Gerald Ford pulled it off.

    "Frankly, I've never felt voting to be all that essential to the process."
  • ||

    Dude, that was like, four thousand years ago.

  • ||

    "Hey, sugar cookie. You know, legally, nothing I can do counts as sex anymore."

  • Mr. Soul||

    "Has anyone seen Ulysses Grant? He owes me a cheroot."
    "He's over there, puking in the Bushes."

  • H. Reardon||

    Ford never 'won' the presidency. Hell, he didn't even 'win' the vice-presidency - he was appointed.

  • H. Reardon||

    Which, after re-reading you're post, you're aware.

  • ||

    That was tarran's joke. Note the Futurama quote right below his joke, confirming it?

  • H. Reardon||

    I left my copy of 'Bender's Quotable Quotes' next to the john.

  • DanD||

    I hadn't taken the time to listen to that Stern segment until now. Oh my stars there are some stupid people out there...

  • ||

    I can't WTFV at work. Any chance you might post a few quotes?

  • Paul.||

    "We like Obama because...garbleglarghgurble giggetybobemschmoot... your shoes untied! LOOK SHINY THINGS!"

  • DanD||

    This was asked several times:
    Interviewer: "If Obama gets re-elected, do you think he will find and kill Osama bin Laden?"

    The answers were all over the board, but suffice to say none of the people responded as if they knew bin Laden was dead.

    The interviewer also asks about how viable Sarah Palin is as a vice-presidential candidate this time around, what margin of victory McCain will have, etc. The interviewees just talk out of their ass. You have to listen to it when you get home. Quotes won't do it justice.

  • ||

    Howard was always good at hiring people who were masters at asking stupid questions, starting with Stuttering John.

  • ||

    "Does it bother you that Mitt Romney is black?"

    "No. That's not the issue, no."

  • John||

    Why do you hate light skinned black women Warty?

  • Killazontherun||

    Their berries aren't as sweet as their darker sisters, yet not as satisfyingly bitter as that of white women. Light skinned black women are kind of the American adjunct lager of cunnilingus.

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    This upsets me.

  • ||

    Sorry, what was the question again?

  • ||

    "What percentage of the vote do you think McCain will get against Obama in 2012?"

    "Mmmmmmm...40."

    "40? So you think it'll be a close race?"

    "Yes."

  • Marshall Gill||

    In response to "do you think Obama will get bin Laden on woman said something like, "I don't believe in war so I don't think he should be killed...but you could torture him"

  • Randian||

    "Do you think Obama chose Paul Ryan for Vice President because he's African American or because he's qualified?"

    "Uh, it could be a little of both"

  • rac3rx||

    I haven't been around a few days. Has anyone posted this yet?
    http://unskewedpolls.com/
    Looks like someone is adjusting down the D samples in the polling to match reality. Hizzoner isn't looking too good.

    Of course, I don't know that much about the source, other than it can't be anymore jacked up than any of the remainder of the data being published this cycle.

  • T o n y||

    That would be the "reality" Sean Hannity wakes into each morning. The poll is adjusting the D sample to match a preferred turnout outcome, not reality.

  • Mike M.||

    So do you honestly believe that the "Hope and Change" turnout is going to be just as big or even bigger this time around as it was in '08?

  • T o n y||

    I believe that the methodology of every reputable poll in the country is to be better trusted than that of Rasmussen or this new outfit. We'll see who's right on election day, but the fact is Republican self-identification has plummeted recently while Democratic ID has stayed relatively flat.

  • Mike M.||

    Nice dodge there.

  • KDN||

    Of course not, but these polls are nonetheless bullshit. It's based on an R+4 sampling that will never happen:

    When the data from the Reason-Rupe poll is unskewed by weighting their reported percentages between Romney and Obama to the partisan affiliations showed by Rasmussen's extensive data results on that issue, the overall picture of the race is different. With Republicans weighted 37.6 percent, Democrats at 33.3 percent and Independents at 29.2 percent, the results calculate to Romney leading Obama by a 52 percent to 45 percent with about three percent undecided

  • ||

    So you're saying Rasmussen's data results are wrong? Because I don't see the quote supporting your view.

  • sarcasmic||

    Slightly off topic: Cop kills 83 year old woman and all he gets is a paid vacation.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....ruder.html

  • Paul.||

    Been posted...

  • Brett L||

    Man, the Spanish are pissed.

  • Paul.||

    Looks like a Mentos commercial.

  • Brett L||

    Except now with gunshots and cops charging the crowd.

  • ||

    What are they rioting over? Jamon shortage or something?

  • Brett L||

    Running out of other peoples' money, as best I can tell.

  • ||

    So jamon, then.

  • ||

    Well, that's certainly a legitimate gripe if so.

  • Paul.||

    My spanish is rusty, but I'm reading the sidebar, something about 15 detained due to some congresstional dispute?

    2000 people in the affected zone regarding the Serranos incident?

  • Brett L||

    "incendio" is fire. That's a forest fire.

  • Paul.||

    Ha! I was wondering what the hell any of this had to do with "synchronized swimming" then I clicked on the link-- it actually was about synchronized swimming. Not related to the riot. That would have been awesome.

  • Trespassers W||

    the Serranos incident

    So you're saying it is ham-related.

  • Tman||

    Bumps in the road people!

    Yesterday I posted a comment to Restoras that he just needed "A few more appeasing press releases and everything will be fine."

    Little did I know he would deliver this press release at the fucking UN.

    What a joke this guy is. Just terrible.

  • Paul.||

    The longer we go without Christians and Mormons rioting in the streets here in 'Murrica, the dumber he looks.

  • T o n y||

    I was certain Reason would give Obama credit for his strong defense of the principle of free speech at the UN today. Just kidding.

    "Intolerance is a form of violence," he quoted. Apparently there's something wrong with that sentiment. Apparently his job as US president is to stand unequivocally on the side of religious bigots just because they are using speech.

  • Tman||

    DANCE MONKEY!!!

  • T o n y||

    Obama defended free speech as strongly as anyone here could ask for.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    Do you get paid by the post or the word?

  • ||

    You mean right before he encourage more rioting over offensive language?

  • ||

    Sockpuppets gonna troll.

  • Tman||

    He is just so sadly predictable. Obama could devour an infant on live television and he would come here arguing how the nutritional benefits of infant meat will lower healthcare costs in the long run.

    Dog whistle, thy name is Tony.

  • T o n y||

    If he does that I will be forced to admit that you rightwingers were correct about him all along.

  • Tman||

    Good to know your limit for supporting Obama stops at devouring a live infant.

    A guy has to have his standards.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Excellent. T o n y has finally drawn his line in the sand.

  • Randian||

    PBUH!

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Romney would have devoured two.

  • sarcasmic||

    Oh yeah? Well I heard that Gary Johnson can juggle three infants at one time, taking a bites out of them as he goes.

  • Trespassers W||

    Excellent. T o n y has finally drawn his line in the sand.

    Sure. But lines in the sand aren't all that permanent, if you haven't noticed.

  • John||

    The future does not belong to those who slander the Prophet Muhammad.

    Yeah that is one hell of a defense of free speech Tony.

  • T o n y||

    You're saying that's who the future should belong to?

  • Paul.||

    *facepalm*

    False equivalency, T o n y.

    The future is free speech... you do get that, right? You do get that?

    Can the Muslims please have their fucking reformation so people like T o n y understand what "moving forward" is?

  • John||

    So anyone who is not a believing Muslim has no place in the future? That is what that is saying you half wit.

  • T o n y||

    Yeah I'm sure that's what he meant.

  • John||

    So he is a moron who says things he doesn't mean in front of the UN.

    Well that makes things better (not).

  • ||

    "The future" doesn't "belong" to anyone or anything.

    Are all of Obama's speechwriters clueless far-left ideologues in their 20s, or just most?

  • T o n y||

    Probably people who realize who the intended audience is of a UN speech.

  • ||

    People who will be encouraged to riot whenever they're offended? Since that will get them more speeches condemning their critics, and more attempts to put people in prison for offending them.

  • John||

    And you better hope it belongs to them Tony. Every time your boyfriend fucks you up the ass, you are slandering Islam.

  • T o n y||

    Don't be vulgar.

  • John||

    It is true. If you want the freedom to do what you want, you better hope the future belongs to those who slander Muhammad.

  • T o n y||

    As long as they're not Christians, I'm with you.

  • John||

    Sorry Tony. But the President just said it had to be Muslims. Would you prefer to be behaded or have a wall dropped on you?

    I am sure you will believe that you are better off living in a Muslim country than an evil Christian one right up until the fist stone hits your head.

  • T o n y||

    I believe we're all better off not having thousand-year-old fairy tales govern our passions.

    Obviously the Muslim world needs to reform. But an American president's job is not to lecture them into doing that (since he won't be successful), but to protect US national security interests.

    You are John, are you not? I don't get the feeling you're thinking this one through.

  • ||

    But an American president's job is not to lecture them into doing that

    It's also not his job to lecture people who offend them.

  • John||

    And Tony you are a horrible bigot and a racist. I feel sorry for you most days.

  • T o n y||

    I feel sorry for any adult who still believes in Santa Claus.

  • Trespassers W||

    I feel sorry for any adult who still believes in Santa Claus.

    Stop slandering the Lord! That's a form of violence!

  • ||

    I feel sorry for any adult who still believes in Santa Claus.

    The future must not belong to those who slander Santa Claus. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of the Easter Bunny is desecrated, eggs are destroyed, or the Tooth Fairy is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Christmas goers, and Kwanzaa celebrators.

  • T o n y||

    That's pretty much how I view that passage. But unlike libertarians I live in the world that actually is, and that world is overrun with believers in various Santa Clauses and Easter Bunnies.

  • ||

    That's pretty much how I view that passage.

    And yet you've been defending it, and claiming it doesn't undermine the rest of his speech, for almost this entire thread. When people riot over something, saying "we believe in free speech but we disapprove when it hurts your feelings" only encourages more extreme reactions.

    unlike libertarians I live in the world that actually is

    "Please don't riot, it makes us apologize" isn't a sensible reaction to reality.

    overrun with believers in various Santa Clauses and Easter Bunnies

    Which is exactly why you can't send the message that rioting will get you attention and apologies.

  • Killazontherun||

    Depends on whether or not Tony's balls have dropped. If he is prepubescent than what he is doing is perfectly acceptable according to Islamic tradition.

  • Trespassers W||

    I'm sure that if GWB had said "The future does not belong to those who slander Christ the Savior", Tony would have defended him just as vociferously.

  • Paul.||

    Uhh, no T o n y, his job is not to fucking comment at all on the artistic values of one of 360 million people who posted something on Youtube at 2am while drunk... his job is to explain, carefully, that there are 360 million different opinions in this country, and the United States will not suppress any of them, which includes the State Department asking to have Youtube remove the video.

  • T o n y||

    He did that. You probably don't get that particular clip on FOX News. He both strongly defended free speech and used his own free speech to condemn bigotry.

    Free speech doesn't mean we have to celebrate all speech or never criticize any speech. Even if you're the president.

  • Paul.||

    Nobody asked him to celebrate the film. He's the president... of all of us, T o n y. Meaning that he defends our free speech in aggregate. He does not have to, nor would I expect him to "celebrate" the message.

    What I expect him to do is defend Americans from the direct, named and specific threats of violence from foreign actors. Because all of us. Not 47% of us... all of us.

  • ||

    He did that.

    It really undermines his point when he then says that we must never offend other people or criticize their beliefs.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    Why are you people arguing with an algorithm?

  • Paul.||

    It's range day.

  • MJGreen||

    "Intolerance is a form of violence," he quoted. Apparently there's something wrong with that sentiment.

    There is. Violence motivated by intolerance is violence. Intolerance itself is not violence. You can have a peaceful society of people intolerant of each others' beliefs or personal habits.

  • sarcasmic||

    Thoughtcrime is death.

  • Trespassers W||

    "Intolerance is a form of violence," he quoted. Apparently there's something wrong with that sentiment.

    Besides it not being true, it's fine.

    Apparently his job as US president is to stand unequivocally on the side of religious bigots just because they are using speech.

    His job as US president is to stand unequivocally on the side of free speech. Do you see the distinction?

    Instead, we get "Sir, I may not agree with what you say.. so you really shouldn't say it, because it's hurtful, and frankly, I'm probably going to look the other way if somebody wants to stop you, but I'll be sure to condemn them afterwards. Maybe."

    What a hero.

  • ||

    "Intolerance is a form of violence,"

    LOL

    Yeah, fuck "definitions", words can mean anything we want them to!

  • sarcasmic||

    Some Tonyisms.

    Take: the violent act of not giving something to someone.

    Give: the violent act of not taking something from someone.

    Inaction: the violent act of not doing something.

  • tarran||

    I am violently commenting right now!

  • JW||

    Ow! Quit it!

  • ||

    First off sarcasmic, Tony's hatred of libertarianism offends me, so I'm going to bring him up on hate speech charges, ok?

    Second, and connected to my first point, your implication that offense isn't violence both undermines my case, and offends me. The FBI are on the way to your residence as we speak. So just sit tight, send your dog to your neighbor's house, and don't hold any pens when they find you, ok?

  • Loki||

    Mr. Obama felt keenly, one aide said, the need for the United States, and for he himself, to stand as a moral example. "He knows that the protesters want to hear from the American president, but not just any American president," a senior aide to Mr. Obama said. "They want to hear from this American president." In other words, they wanted to hear from the first black president of the United States, a symbol of the possibility of change.

    *barf*

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Alert me when an Arab country elects its first black president.

  • Mr. Soul||

    "intolerance is a form of violence" reminds me of "its 65 degrees but feels like 68". We knew more about reality before you opened your mouth.

  • T o n y||

    He was quoting Gandhi...

  • T||

    Regurgitating somebody else's bullshit doesn't make it any less bullshit.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Like Joseph Stalin, and Gandhi, I'm the Cult of Personality.

  • H. Reardon||

    I exploit you, still you love me
    I tell you one and one makes three
    I'm the cult of personality

  • Azathoth!!||

    "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam..."

    He didn't say 'does not', it wasn't passive.

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