Tuesday, March 27, 2012
All the Pravda
For a man so in love with the technology of image, the camera, the microphone and the teleprompter, the leader of the increasingly less free world has a natural tendency to put a little too much faith in it. This is the second time that an open microphone has let Obama down, the first time it recorded him stabbing an ally in the back, the second time it recorded him stabbing a few dozen more in the back.
Medvedev, whose bosom buddy just managed to cling to power with a stolen election and brutal suppression of protests, surely understands how O feels. Photo ops with tigers and sunken treasures, not to mention skiing, martial arts and even rap, did not keep the Big P in smooth with the Russian public when the economy headed south.
Vladimir Putin didn't have any racial guilt to ladle on the voters that might get them to overlook the mansions, the corruption and the abuses of power. But the average American voter, like the Russian voter, is more interested in the meat and potatoes, not to mention the gasoline, than in mystical allusions to the power of history. If Putin at times seemed bent on passing himself off as a new czar and Obama as a new savior, the crown and halo were shattered by the economy. Putin's had tightened control over Russia to an extent that the Obamas and the Warrens could only fondly dream of in their fondest federalist fantasies. And it's easier to steal elections, when you don't have to kowtow to a bunch of provincial interests and take the complaints of bible and gun owners seriously. But much like Putin and Ahmadinejad, Obama enjoys dim prospects in a straight election. And unlike them, he doesn't have a military force that will turn up a few million ballots and send the protesters straight to the hospital, if not to the morgue.
Obama likes being a democrat, it's just the democracy part that he doesn't much care for. And while his diplomacy is generally underwhelming, a mutual dislike of elections proved to be a popular bonding topic with Medvedev, the human face of the regime. But if Medvedev really thought that Obama was serious about needing more space because of an election, he hasn't been paying much attention to American politics.
This is a White House that doesn't pass laws to curry favor with the general voting population. That's what publicity stunts and race cards and wars against women are for. In 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where Al Sharpton is an honored guest and policy is outsourced to whoever comes earliest and tosses the foam ball the best, policy isn't made to soothe the savage electoral beast, it's done to pay off buddies, soothe furious Muslims and implement whatever idea that a committee of unhinged leftists, Clinton veterans and friends from Chicago think is the way to go.
If Obama is jettisoning Eastern Europe, it's because he thinks it doesn't matter. The sage wisdom is that the future is in the Middle East and the Pacific Rim. Russia is full of pale men and so is Eastern Europe. A man who thinks that there's a language known as "Austrian" can't exactly be expected to tell them apart or to care. Not when there are more exciting places to be, like Beijing of Dubai.
When it comes to Russia, Obama can't see the point. When the Berlin Wall fell, Obama was busy completing the final leg of his prolonged education and adolescence while minoring in racial careerism. If he was even busy paying attention to people with funny names like Yeltsin or Gorbachev, it was while smoking blunts and laughing at how funny the syllables of their names sounded in his mouth.
Obama cares about as much as Russia, as he does about the UK. If their leaders meet up with him, he'll shake hands, nod intently while thinking of what to order for lunch and make the same vague statements that he makes on every occasion. So long as they, unlike a certain impertinent Jew from Jerusalem, don't call him out on his arrogance or stupidity, his handlers will be able to chalk it up as another successful bit of international diplomacy.
There's a reason that Obama gets along reasonably well with Sarkozy and Cameron, they're all vain shallow men who imagine themselves standing at the wheel of history. When Sark and Cam want to drag Obo into a war, all they have to do is appeal to his ego. That's how we wound up bombing Libya and if we ever get around to bombing Syria, it will be because our allies come equipped with the same weapon with which Perseus slew the Gordon Medusa. A mirror.
Russia is not exactly in the same league. It's doubtful that Putin was worried about what Obama would or wouldn't agree to. Ever since Hope and Change took an oath on a mirror, Moscow has been casually slapping around Washington D.C. or swatting it away like a pesky fly. That isn't about to change now.
Signaling to Medvedev that he's willing to give away the country store if Russia just flies under the radar until after the election would be contemptible, but it's actually worse than that. Obama would give away the country store now if Putin just asked. What's even worse is that Putin sees no need to ask. This administration has made it painfully clear that its only foreign policy is reactive and that its spheres of interest lie nowhere near the former Warsaw Pact. Moscow does not see itself tussling with Washington D.C. When Putin grinds his teeth in the night and the boys in uniforms draw up their plans, it isn't the American capital they worry about, it's London.
In the Post-American World ruled by the teleprompter and the trending topic, nothing that Obama says actually matters. His only power is over American allies, and only those allies who are willing to endure him and listen to him. And that is a diminishing number. The reset button has been pushed, but 'reset button' was misspelled to read overload, a misspelling that seems altogether accurate these days when American influence and the free world have been overloaded by the burden of their own follies.
Obama's hush hush chat with Medvedev wasn't just about promising to give the bear Eastern Europe on a platter if the beast would just hold his appetite until after election day, it was about a conniving liar who was using us as a pretext in whatever game he was playing. Maybe the American public should care more about the missile shield, but Obama knows they don't. An administration which is still clinging to the wildly unpopular skunk of ObamaCare while sneering at the hoi polloi who drive, instead of get driven about, is not too worried what Des Moines will think of the missile shield.
What the Russians read as an admission of weakness is something else entirely. It may just be that Obama had gotten so in the habit of promising anyone and everyone that once the coal miners and bible thumpers could be lured to the polls, he would have more flexibility on everything from gay marriage to sending Rush Limbaugh to a gulag, that it has become his default responsible to just about any demand from anyone. What goes for SEIU and CAIR, might as well go for Mother Russia.
The only thing that Obama really needs from Russia is for the reformed reds to avoid causing him any problems. The last thing he wants while boasting about the road that we traveled with him is a 3 AM phone call. As far as he's concerned, the bear can do what it wants, so long as it doesn't bite at an inconvenient time. That makes the tradeoff a fairly simple one. Russia avoids creating a crisis until after election day and in return they will get the same charming fellow in the Oval Office who won't care what happens afterward to all the small country with funny names.
It's the Chicago way. You scratch my back and I won't look too closely into those shady land deals or the suspicious deaths. Ever since the Caliph of Chicago made it to the White House, the old game has gone from the backlots of Oz park to the world stage, but it hasn't really changed much, just gotten bigger. Moscow, which is the Chicago of Russia, where payoffs and legbreaking are the only form of law that matters, understands how to play the game. They also know a punk when they see one.
It's a sad testament to the Republic that these days our political system has converged with the Russian one. Some twenty years after the Soviet Union fell, the American and Russian leaders have a good deal in common. They both oversee mafia states that spend money wildly for their 1 percent who are in power or close to those who are, while playing class warfare games with business titans when they aren't hitting them up for cash.
Propaganda is the only thing on television. Enemies of the state are forever being denounced in the most vulgar and violent language. Nationalization and federalization are passed off as reform programs, when they are actually payday programs to shove as much money and power to the right people as possible. And the goal of those in power appears to be a perpetual one party state run for their own benefit.
Obama and Putin are both petty tyrants living in a house of mirrors, czars of their own egos, corrupt and corrupting forces that hang around the necks of two great nations. They don't quite understand each other, though both are lawyers and bag men for their respective syndicates, neither do they respect each other. But they both know how to play the game.