Thursday, October 19, 2006

Personal Aside: The Speculation is that the Answer to North Korea is Obvious Today—but What About the Future? Paging Destiny’s Tot: Barack Obama!


What bothers a small number of congressional and White House foreign policy strategists today is not that there will be a sudden eruption with the North Koreans who have the bomb. As a matter of fact, probably the best case scenario, they say, is if Pyongyang fired a nuclear-tipped missile anywhere we’d take them out in short order. The same with other possibilities—if the North Koreans surreptitiously put a bomb on a ship headed this way and detonated it either on the way or near a port—the same thing would happen. Frankly, that’s because a tough president named George W. Bush is in charge.

But—and this has been a recurring worry of theirs…and mine…what happens if, as cyclical politics seems to dictate, that a liberal Democratic president is in office five years down the road? For that reason, these Hill and White House strategists have leaked a few scenarios to the media. Suppose Kim Jong II decides to initiate an invasion of South Korea? If, suppose, he seeks to frighten the U. S. by launching a nuclear-tipped Taepodong missile to the point where it falls near our shores how would a liberal Democratic president respond?

President Hillary Clinton who saw first-hand how the presidency works and who is a serious legislator, could press a button and annihilate the North in a matter of minutes—but would have to consider the risk to a major U. S. city. As the Wall Street Journal described it in a revelatory article by the prescient Bret Stephens: would that president…Hillary Clinton or, as Time magazine so foolishly hopes, Barack Obama…risk Seattle for Seoul?

Perhaps Lady Hillary would: I do think her nerves are of steel. But the soft…ever so soft and lovely...Barack with those limpid, soulful eyes…the fellow who plaintively entertains dreams of his lost father who skipped…could he muster the iron to do it? As one who has seen him up close several times, let me say I don’t believe the presidency is sufficient enough of a magic cloak which it would have to be to get him up to size. He’s had scant experience: a few terms in the Illinois state Senate where he wasn’t in the leadership and a term in the U. S. Senate where he was canonized as the media’s destiny’s tot ala Lynn Sweet…without his evidencing the slightest hint of ability thus far. I haven’t detected any steel in the man. Rather: putty. Malleable putty, to be shaped any way pragmatism requires. All I hear are the exclamations of the Democratic adolescents of all ages: whooeee! Our first African American president! Whoooeee! Can I have your autograph? Will you tell us how you’ve suffered, man? Did you feel lonely at Harvard?

Okay, President Obama. Now hear this. The North Koreans have sold al Qaeda a few batches of weapons-grade fissile material tied to the agreement that the targets would be in nations lacking a retaliatory capacity such as Denmark or Italy. Selling al Qaeda the raw material rather than a bomb would enable it to slip through inspection undetected. Terrorists could pick up the material, build a weapon and explode it as a dirty bomb…or plant it securely somewhere for a future threat. Here you are: tall, graceful, with a Colgate smile, the Harvard Law grad who hasn’t yet supplied a glimmer of elucidation of jurisprudence. The so-called University of Chicago law professor. Now: President Obama. What do you do?

Huh? He’s the man who deplores Bush’s warrior-like proclivity. Bush has issued a warning of “severe consequences” for North Korea because an area of Norway has been turned into a desert. Do you think the tall, statesman-appearing Barack has the interior sinew of intellectual steel to face up to Kim? I don’t. In four appearances sitting by my side in the studio taking calls I’ve yet to have seen a firmness in his approach. Rather his style with my program is to try to reconcile two diametric opposites and then do an impotent fade. Sitting at his side in the Oval Office would be David Axelrod. Nope. That still doesn’t do it for me. Frankly I’d rather it be crafty, slippery, duplicitous Rahm Emanuel than Axelrod in that office. I can see Barack trying to cut a deal, getting what he thinks is a deal, winning the plaudits of the New York Times and booting it in the scope of history. And all of us paying the price for being whimpering, simpering aesthetes toadying up to a severely under-qualified first-time African American icon for a perfect photo op.

This President Barack Obama piffle is evidence of great Democratic party poverty. One of these days the Democratic party has got to grow up. This idea of nominating for president a media-chic superstar to fill the shoes of a Franklin Roosevelt or a Harry Truman…or to rival a Hubert Humphrey or a Henry Jackson…sounds good to the Democrats…but they are so, so far away from understanding what the presidency requires that to even fool around with Obama shows its inner shallowness. It has to begin to realize that some day it will be forced to govern and all the media posturing in the world will come to naught if it doesn’t have the right person.

Mark me down now as saying that the ardors of a campaign…with negative ads and the like…are needed to winnow down the plaster of Paris statue of Obama who evidently is higher up on the scale of potential nominees than many of us thought. Which means that the Democratic party, savoring a presidential victory, is salivating for an icon without understanding that he has to be more than a distinctly under-average male model-type who to date at least has won headlines by uttering the most prosaic thoughts. Like his so-called great oration as the Democratic keynoter…the one that expressed the unique concept that we are not hyphenated Americans but just Americans. I wonder how long it took Axelrod & Associates to conjure up that line?

What will Axelrod’s manufactured media idol as processed by Lynn Sweet, buffed to a high gloss by the inestimable Carol Marin and packaged with bedspread-sized front page photos in Chicago’s Democratic Party newspaper of record do about North Korea?


  1. Some will gladly let Rod put another Democrat in the US Senate.

    On the other hand, Judy would appoint a Republican who would support the President.

    Oh well, another pro-life reason for voting for Topinka.

    Thanks for reminding us, Tom.

  2. Tom, instead of creating more scenarios for potential candidates, consider this before us now. Bush has repeatedly said that America does not torture. There will be more and more stories like those of Maher Arar and Mozaam Berg – innocent victims of extraordinary rendition – released. Canada's foreign minister has already griped to Rice on behalf of Arar, as has PM Stephen Harper with Bush.

    Remember the news with contrasting Clinton's "I did not have sex with that woman" with subsequent revelations? When will the Bush/Rice "America does not torture" be contrasted with the testimony of the tortured?

  3. Lovie's LeatherOctober 19, 2006 at 10:48 AM

    I find it funny that democrats would be talking up a storm about Obama. He lacks experience. I think that now that Mark Warner has declared that he won't run, the Democrats should focus on somebody like Evan Bayh. He is smart, attractive, experienced. I know, I know. He is a Senator. And Senator usually translates to moron. But he served as Indiana's governor for eight years and as SOS for 2. He is not some Feingold extremist and isn't a Hillary Clinton either. But I doubt that the base of the Democratic party would ever let him slip to the nomination. He expresses the views of most everyday people so he is obviously an extremist in the eyes of modern democrats. But, Bayh would be a good option. He is the only democrat I would even consider voting for.