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Friday, January 31, 2014

David Brooks, "The Opportunity Coalition": Like the Whigs, Obama Coasts Into Oblivion

Did you listen to Obama's 2014 State of the Union address? Did you hear any mention by the president of his pre-election promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide by Turkey? No way! You see, autocratic Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has been declared by Obama to be one of his best overseas friends. Meanwhile, Turkey's economy is showing signs of another imminent crisis, which could have signficant economic repercussions for the rest of the world (see:

During his State of the Union address, Obama did, however, relate to Syria. Surely you remember how Obama ignored his own "red line" concerning the use of chemical weapons by Syrian madman Bashar al-Assad against his own countrymen. And you recall how in the face of incontrovertible evidence that Assad had used chemical weapons, Obama punted the matter over to Congress, and then cut a deal with his trustworthy buddy, Vladimir Putin, for Assad to destroy his chemical stockpile. And so we were proudly told by Obama during his SOTU earlier this week:

"American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated, and we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve – a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear."

However, it just so happens that there's a fly in the ointment, and Obama was "obfuscating the truth," i.e. lying to the American people. As reported yesterday by Reuters in an article entitled "U.S. accuses Syria of stalling on chemical arms handover" by Lesley Wroughton and Matt Spetalnick(

"The United States on Thursday accused Syria of dragging its feet on giving up its chemical arms, putting at risk a deal to remove such weapons of mass destruction from the country as it splits apart in a chaotic civil war.

President Barack Obama this week touted the chemical weapons agreement as one of the few U.S. diplomatic achievements on Syria, but the State Department said just 4 percent of Syria's deadliest chemical agents has been shipped out of the country for destruction at sea.

The United States has few good choices to force President Bashar al-Assad to comply."

Obama also related in his SOTU to the deal he struck with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei, whose text America's president refuses to reveal, for the "dismantling" of Iran's nuclear weapons program:

"And it is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program – and rolled parts of that program back – for the very first time in a decade. As we gather here tonight, Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium."

However, this is another disingenuous declaration by Obama. Again, as reported by Reuters ( (my italics):

"Under the interim deal, Iran agreed to suspend enrichment of uranium to a fissile concentration of 20 percent, a short technical step away from the level needed for nuclear weapons."

In addition, Iran is expected to convert half of its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to uranium oxide and dilute the remaining half to 5 percent enriched uranium, but these processes are reversible. None of this amounts to "eliminating" stockpiles.

And so, notwithstanding these international crises and a festering US economy, David Brooks, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Opportunity Coalition" (, makes the case that Obama is now at a "moment of liberation" and should look to the "Whig tradition" for guidance. Brooks writes:

"President Obama can spend the remainder of his term planting a few more high-tech hubs, working on reforming the patent law and doing the other modest things he mentioned in his State of the Union address. And if he did that, he might do some marginal good, and he would manage the stately decline of his presidency during its final few years.

Or, alternately, he can realize that he is now at a moment of liberation. For the past five years he has been inhibited by the need to please donors, to cater to various Congressional constituencies and to play by Washington rules.

But the legislating phase of his presidency is now pretty much over. Over the next few years he will be free to think beyond legislation, beyond fund-raising, beyond the necessities of the day-to-day partisanship. He will have the platform and power of the presidency, but, especially after the midterms, fewer short-term political obligations.

. . . .

But there is a third ancient tradition that weaves through American history, geared directly at enhancing opportunity and social mobility. This is the Whig tradition, which begins with people like Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and Abraham Lincoln. This tradition believes in using the power of government to give marginalized Americans the tools to compete in a capitalist economy."

Yup, giving all that is troubling the world today, Obama should look to the Whigs for guidance as he fades into a golden sunset. Give "marginalized Americans the tools to compete in a capitalist economy"? Does that mean higher speed Internet to watch porn? In this increasingly complex, hi-tech world, to which "tools" is Brooks referring?

Time to get real, David. The world is on fire, and the Whigs, who long ago faded into oblivion, didn't and don't have the answers.

Obama is a "relay swimmer" preparing to "pass things along to the next swimmer"? Good luck to the next swimmer as Obama flails about aimlessly in the rapids, leaving America hopelessly out of the race.


  1. I'm no fan of Obama, but I must say Jeff, you are depressing me. The U.S. always bounces back, and so she will again, even if I can't tell you just how it will happen. Perhaps it's time for you to start believing in God. Seriously. Believing makes a difference. I can testify. By the way, I do enjoy your commentary,most of the time. Peace to you.

    1. I pray to God, I believe in American exceptionalism, and I am convinced that America will bounce back if it will have leadership that will allow it to bounce back. Do you recall in the Bible how Joseph prophesied seven lean years? I am expecting eight . . .

      Thanks for your comment!