what josh said:
they got issues
we keep the chat shows running through the day at TPM HQ. and i've been listening to a constant stream — mainly but not only on fox — of talk through the day about whether we should feel weak or ashamed or tarnished or any other number of things because president obama had a friendly handshake with huge [sic] chavez of venezuela.
the whole idea seems so deeply silly to me that it's hard to know how exactly to even comment on it. but i'm struck once again by the sort of psychologically arrested mentality and extreme emotional insecurity that seems at work in the minds of many foreign policy conservatives — or more specifically, so as not to paint with too broad a brush, those of the neo-conish flavor.
sure, a lot of this is just political posturing — trying to sound the story out for possible political vulnerabilities on obama's part. throw a bunch of mud up against the wall and see what sticks. what's striking to me though is that a lot of it seems like a very genuine, gut-level emotional response. (a related example is what matt yglesias pointed out a few days ago — how many right-wingers seem to have convinced themselves that north korea, a borderline failed state on the possible brink of economic collapse somehow has the us over a barrel.)
in the course of our normal lives, few of us have much difficulty identifying habits of defensiveness or a penchant for histrionic or petulant interactions as signs of weakness, not strength. really powerful people don't need stunts and usually signal their power by a certain graciousness and indifference in such interactions. they have nothing to prove. but american power, respect, command of public opinion — however you want to define it — must be in these people's minds an extremely brittle thing. they really do seem like extremely insecure people.
a bit of follow about on right-wing paranoia. i'm just watching andrea mitchell interview michael o'hanlon about whether president obama showed some sort of dangerous weakness in happily shaking hands with hugo chavez. mitchell played a clip of the always cartoonish newt gingrich and then noted that conservatives are drawing the analogy to john kennedy's famous meeting with nikita krushchev in the latter sized kennedy up as a lightweight and — so the argument goes — thus believed he could be pushed around during the cuban missile crisis.
now, kruschev? really? i'm not sure i can imagine a better illustration of the sort of parodic paranoia i'm talking about. we do realize that the us has the most powerful military in the world and venezuela has little ability to project military power beyond its own borders. it's a non-entity militarily, even compared to iran and north korea. will he be emboldened into calling obama el diablo?
the shocking truth
fresh off our earlier national humiliation, we just received a note from TPM reader SR. and SR points out that in the second image of our obama at the summit of the americas slideshow we see president obama shaking hands with the dog of the president of mexico. he even seems a bit to be bowing to the dog.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Thursday, November 20, 2008
rick sanchez: i want you to look at this video, alright? it seems almost sad.
look at this — this is the president of the united states walking out on stage to take a picture with world leaders, invited to the g-20 summit over the weekend. look at him.
and he seems like the most unpopular kid in high school that nobody liked, uh, the one with the cooties.
everybody's shaking hands, but he walks in, and nobody's shaking his hand, and he's not shaking anybody's hand.
this is different, though, because, look, i'll let you watch this again — watch, everybody's shaking hands ... he's not shaking hands.
remember just six years ago? he was, quote, "the bully", who everyone seemed to like — or did they just pretend to like him?
by the way, just to be clear: "bully" is not my word. it's one of the words most used to describe the bush administration's foreign and economic policies around the world. to check, i googled "bush" and "bully" together — you ready? — two million, five hundred thousand hits!
this may be a case of "what goes around, comes around", maybe not ...
Saturday, November 03, 2007
... from dubya! please!
the bush administration is taking a hard line on dragooning civilian foreign service officers into serving in the war zone of iraq. the article contains a quote by ambassador ryan crocker which says that the fso's swear an oath to serve anywhere in the world. this is not true. they swear an oath to uphold the constitution. they sign a contract that allows them to be posted anywhere. there is a difference, and the two documents may actually be in contradiction. for instance, what if the government did something unconstitutional and wanted to send you to support that action ... ?
another retired u.s. diplomat sent me this:i am also a retired foreign service officer, and strongly second the view of the anonymous fso (retired) whom you cited in your column today. the issue really is not the commitment to world-wide service undertaken by fsos. the decision by the bush administration to not only keep an embassy open in a war zone, but increase its size to make it one of the largest in the world, is simply testimony to the madness of the entire iraq "adventure," and the fraudulent nature of the expressed rationale for our being there. most of the staff in this "embassy" do not speak the language and cannot act effectively as diplomats, even if that were the purpose in sending them there. but that is not the purpose. ...again, please write your congressional representatives and senators, and contact your local democratic and republican party organizations, and urge them in the strongest terms to close down the us embassy in iraq. it has no business being there. it is under constant mortar and rocket attack, cannot actually conduct diplomacy, and is a thinly veiled viceregal palace intended to perpetuate bush's neo-colonialism.
the willingness of secretary rice, or dr. ferragamo as she is known on one satirical website, to continue supporting this war of occupation through this "embassy" and more broadly through her declaration of a new order known as "transformational diplomacy" simply confirms that she is not a "moderate" voice for diplomacy against the likes of dick cheney. diplomats do not "transform" other countries. they represent the interests of the u.s. to the governments and citizens of other, independent, countries.
to end the war, begin with what is possible. close the embassy. save our diplomats.
by the way, [this] is the sort of news still coming out of iraq every day, with 3 more us troops killed. that's a "lull"? and, see phillip carter on the dark side of the 'good news' about iraq. the fact is that it is still one of the most violent places on earth and the decline in fighting comes in part in baghdad because the city has gone from being 50/50 sunni and shiite to being 75% shiite, with much of this change having come in 2007 under the nose of the surge troops from the us.
diplomacy with iraq's neighbors can be done outside iraq better. diplomacy with iraqi politicians can still be pursued (most of them live outside the country anyway).
save the diplomats. save the world.