In a January 4 editorial purporting to demonstrate that "the United States finds itself noticeably weaker in international affairs" now than when President Obama took office, The Washington Times went through the gamut of conservative talking points to find ways to say Obama is a failure as a president (Obama is still in his first presidential year), all the while snidely insinuating that President George W. Bush was not.
The Times started off, reliably, by attacking Obama's national security credentials, trotting out the old conservative stand-by that Obama "was elected with almost no national security experience," except for maybe having taken "a graduate seminar in international relations." The editorial added that Obama used "his personal charisma and the fact that he was not George W. Bush" to get elected. Well, then, what national security credentials, might I ask, did Bush have when he was "elected"?
The Times continued to hammer the point that Obama's supposed inexperience -- "naïve enthusiasm" as the Times put it -- regarding national security contributed to him making "lofty promises" instead of delivering "prudent policies," citing, for support, Obama's intention to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay and his stated intention to begin a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in the future, while sending more troops there now. The former, which the Times referred to as "a victory of symbolism over substance," has been a favorite conservative line of attack for more than a year now, but conservatives somehow always seem to conveniently sidestep the fact that Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- who took that position in 2006 when President Bush appointed him -- reportedly called for the facility's closure AS FAR BACK AS 2007.
Attacking Obama over Afghanistan is, of course, straight out of Dick Cheney's playbook. While the administration was formulating its Afghanistan strategy, Cheney accused Obama of "dithering" and "inaction," then when the administration announced a plan, Cheney slammed Obama. In its editorial, the Times followed suit, asserting that Obama "announced a 'stronger and smarter' strategy for Afghanistan in March, and another in November that contained a deadline which is not quite a deadline, for a pullout that is not really a pullout," continuing the trend of portraying Democrats as weak on national security and foreign policy and totally absolving the Bush administration of responsibility for any problems Afghanistan.
The Times then used the unsuccessful Christmas Day airline bomb attack to criticize "Obama's unprecedented, fawning outreach to the Muslim world," claiming, once again, that the outreach "has produced no tangible results, no dramatic shifts in public opinion regarding U.S. policies" -- no matter that, as we previously noted, a June 2009 WorldPublicOpinion.org poll found that Obama was more popular than Bush in Muslim countries for which comparable data are available, and that a July 2009 Pew poll found that there are "[s]igns of improvement in views of America ... even in some predominantly Muslim countries that held overwhelmingly negative views of the United States in the Bush years."
The Times later slipped in a gratuitous quotation of a racist attack by Al Qaeda, which was widely repeated throughout the right-wing hemisphere: "Al Qaeda views Mr. Obama with outright contempt, offensively declaring him to be a 'house Negro' in contrast to purportedly 'honorable black Americans' like Malcolm X." It's unclear why the Times would reprint this quote, but it's not surprising that Al Qaeda would criticize the current U.S. president, whose stated goal is to bring about its demise.
Of course the Times found a way to associate Cuba and Obama, saying that the administration "unwisely rush[ed] to side with Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua in calling for return of failed dictator Manuel Zelaya." We get tired of mentioning this -- but the European Union and the UN secretary general voiced similar opposition to Zelaya's ouster, as did the Organization of American States.
The Times also listed "embarrassing Obama moments on the world stage," which included the media's fabrication of giftgate and the right-wing's made-up bow-gate. It threw into the list the claim that Obama said "the United States was 'one of the largest Muslim countries in the world," which is a misrepresentation of his June 2009 statement that "if you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world," and a host of others, inexplicably including the Nobel Peace Price. Whaa?
Listing all of Bush's "embarrassing" moments would probably require using up a whole lot of space ... but did you know there is a website that lists many of Bush's blunders (verbal gaffes) by year?
In its last paragraph, the Times wrote: "The world is a tough neighborhood. Mr. Bush was not loved, but he was feared, which Machiavelli advises is a more durable position. Mr. Obama has sought only to be loved, but in the process has disappointed America's allies and encouraged our adversaries." (Sigh) Yeah, we've heard that one, too.