Obama’s gestures

by Paul Rahe
November 9, 2009

Hillsdale College Professor Paul Rahe writes on the celebration of the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall today from which President Obama has chosen to be absent…

…We have much to be proud of…We — and the world — owe a great debt to the Cold War presidents: especially, to Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan, who were the most stalwart. This was arguably America’s finest hour.

It is, I think, significant that Barack Obama chose not to join the other heads of state and heads of government who have gathered in Berlin today to celebrate what was a remarkable and blessed event.

Back in June, in two separate posts on Power Line – here and here — I drew attention to our current president’s propensity for communicating different messages to different audiences by means of gestures of one kind or another. Here is what I then wrote:

Barack Obama has a history of belittling his adversaries [by indirection]. In April, 2008, he was caught on tape during a debate with Hillary Clinton, rubbing his hand across the right side of his face and extending his middle finger in an obscene gesture that many in the audience could see it but she could not, and when this provoked laughter on the part of his supporters he responded with a knowing smile. Later, after accepting his party’s nomination, he did precisely the same thing during a debate with John McCain; and, after Sarah Palin remarked at the Republican National Convention that the only difference between a pit bull and a soccer mom was lipstick, he observed at a rally that a pig with lipstick is still a pig. Again, many in the audience caught the dig and they, too, were rewarded with a knowing smile.

Obama is, in fact, a master of the insulting gesture. There is no other construction that one can put on his conduct towards Gordon Brown when the British prime minister paid him a visit shortly after his inauguration. First, in an ostentatious manner, he returned to the British embassy a bust of Winston Churchill that had been loaned to his predecessor. Then, when Brown presented him with a pen made from timber used in a British ship once involved in putting down the slave trade, he gave him in return a stack of movies on DVD which could not be played on machines sold in Europe.

Were Obama a yokel, one might be able to explain this away. But a yokel he is not, and there are State Department protocol officers who are highly sensitive to the proprieties. It is no accident that, at about the same time, the White House press secretary intimated in the presence of members of the British press that there was no special relationship between the United States and Great Britain. Obama’s gesture was a calculated insult–meant to be understood only by those to whom it was directed.

If we are to comprehend what is going on, we must pay close attention not only to what Obama says but to what he conveys in other ways…Witness his warm embrace of Hugo Chavez. Behind the thin veneer of politeness, there is, I suspect, something ugly lurking. In the first of the autobiographies that he claims to have written, Barack Obama frequently speaks of himself as being in the grips of rage. We would do well to take him at his word. If we are to stop him from doing great damage to this country and to our friends and allies, we must take every opportunity that comes our way to unmask the man.

President Obama chose not to go to Berlin for a reason. Once again, he is signaling that his administration is in the process of turning its back on our erstwhile allies in Europe. He has thus far persistently made it his practice to embrace our enemies and to stiff our friends. We should not for a moment underestimate the significance of this. It means that he believes our policy in the Cold War wrong-headed, and it means that he intends to line us up now with the likes of Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin, Fidel Castro, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It is by no means an accident that the man in the State Department now in charge of our policy towards Iran is on the board of Iran’s main front-organization in the United States

The entire article is at Power Line.

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