Mouse vs. man in new Cold War
Last Updated: 3:36 AM, June 23, 2013
Posted: 12:54 AM, June 23, 2013
The photo of President Obama and Russian boss Vladimir Putin sitting glum-faced at the G8 summit sparked talk of a new Cold War. Let's hope not, because we would lose this time.
Looking at them, I had one thought: In a showdown, my money is on Putin. In fact, whether negotiating over Syria or arm-wrestling, I want a Putin on our side.
He knows his country's national interests and is prepared to pursue them. We, on the other hand, have a president who increasingly lives over the rainbow.
World disorder is growing by the day, and Obama seems not to notice or care. His big moment in Berlin — a speech at the Brandenburg Gate — was noteworthy for his profuse sweating.
News reports focused on the small crowd, which was a fraction of the rock-star-sized turnout he got there in 2008. But Obama's topic struck me as the cause for alarm.
He proposed cutting Russian and American nuclear arms by a third, an idea so loopy it had the feeling of a bait-and-switch. He had to know Putin would say nyet, and the timing made no sense with chemical weapons floating around in Syria and the rise of new nuclear powers, including Pakistan, India and North Korea.
Even worse, Iran's scramble for the bomb and the warning from Saudi Arabia and others that they will want their own nukes made Obama's choice an embarrassment. It was as if he was trying to turn attention away from the present dangers by floating a tired vision of Hope & Change.
Forget the world as it is, let's dream about the world we want. Maybe throw a little pixie dust in the air and wish for a pony, too.
Dreaming has its time and place, but it is no substitute for action that might make the world safer here and now.
His pathetic performance raises questions: Is our president giving up on containing the chaos? Have the world's problems overwhelmed him?
Actually, I suspect something far more dangerous. He doesn't have a clue about how bad things are.
Obama has never appreciated America's unique standing in the world. Coming out of the blame-America-first faculty lounge, he believes the planet would be a better place if we took a smaller role in it.
That's the vision he has followed by sounding the retreat across the globe. "Leading from behind" is how one aide described it, but it's not leading at all, unless you call running for the exits leading.
The result hasn't been a rise of the good guys who were supposedly held back by our heavy hand. Instead, the vacuum is being filled by Iran and its agents in the Mideast, assorted Islamists in North Africa and tyrants and sociopaths everywhere. Obama is so consumed with his own navel that he hasn't noticed the world isn't cooperating with his vision.
The bad guys have noticed.
Putin, for one, has Obama's number. So do the Iranians, the North Koreans and even the Taliban, who think they can kidnap one of our soldiers and exchange him for five bloody terrorists at Gitmo. Maybe they are right.
Our allies must be shaking, knowing Obama won't stand up to the bullies. And who can blame a Karzai in Afghanistan or an al-Maliki in Iraq for tilting away from us? We're short-timers in their neighborhood.
Obama's view is not new to history or unique with him. But somewhere between his dreamy talk of utopia and his policy of neo-isolationism, there are actual slaughters of real people taking place.
Yet the tens of thousands of corpses piling up in Syria don't move him, nor do the millions of people displaced or forced to flee the country. And his passivity shows he fails to grasp the dangers to our national security of the war spilling into Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel.
Ah, but wait, the president does have an epiphany: The world needs to combat climate change immediately. Any day now, the White House promises, he's going to set limits on carbon emissions from American power plants. It'll be a bells-and-whistles speech, one for history, aides say.
That will certainly put a smile on Putin's face. After all, America is surrendering another piece of its economic future and he doesn't have to fire a shot.
Fearful Dems' Silver sidestep
As I watched the seven Democratic candidates for mayor take turns swearing their support for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a political lament came to mind: "Sometimes party loyalty asks too much."
It's a no-brainer that Silver's hush money payoff of $103,000 to two women who charged they were sexually harassed by another assemblyman should earn him a thumbs-down from the candidates. And it would if Silver were a Republican or a Dem back-bencher.
But his power frightens the seven Dems, who looked like the seven dwarfs running for their lives when the Silver question came up at a debate.
By saying he should stay as speaker, they put themselves at odds with a majority of state voters. They might also be giving Republican Joe Lhota an issue to jump-start his mayoral race.
Lhota has made little headway, and goes for weeks without making news. To judge from the lack of information from his campaign, his team wants it that way.
But the radio silence ended Friday, when Lhota held a news conference to urge his rivals to join his dump-Silver bandwagon. "We all have to stand together," he declared.
By itself, the issue isn't a game changer. But it could be the start of a more aggressive effort by Lhota to remind New Yorkers that loyalty to party rule means the publc gets the shaft, as the Dems are proving in the Silver case.
Will they also favor unions over taxpayers? Will they stay silent if Gov. Cuomo screws the city? Will they stand up to Washington's attacks on New York?
Those are the consequences when party asks too much, and Lhota shouldn't be shy about saying so.
Hill's 'go to' scandal excuse
Reader Jim Soviero predicts how Hillary Rodham Clinton will explain the sex scandals during her tenure at the State Department. "She'll blame some little-watched, drug-filled, horribly made adult video," he writes. "She'll claim the tape ignited primal lusts, and the filmmaker will get a year. The 'actors' will get an invite to perform at the next IRS shindig."
Careful — don't give her any ideas!
FBI's chilling game of drones
Yes, the FBI uses drones to spy on Americans, but just a little bit, here and there. That was the substance of agency Director Robert Mueller's testimony to Congress in the latest revelation about Big Brother government.
"We have very few of limited use, and we're exploring not only the use, but the necessary guidelines," Mueller said.
His words aimed to reassure, but they don't. What does "limited use" mean? And who is drawing up "guidelines"?
If it's Eric Holder, then nobody is safe.