Referring us to Jeffrey Goldberg's recent Atlantic article entitled "The Obama Doctrine," David Brooks writes in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Dogs, Cats and Leadership":
"But it’s also fascinating to read in the midst of a presidential campaign. It shows how insanely far removed campaign bloviation is from the reality of actually governing. It also reveals that the performance of presidents, especially on foreign policy, is shaped by how leaders attach to problems. Some leaders are like dogs: They want to bound right in and make things happen. Some are more like cats: They want to detach and maybe look for a pressure point here or there.
. . . .
Personally, I don’t think there is one correct answer to whether we want a dog or a cat as leader. Depends on the situation; there are successful examples of both types. But I’m struck by how catlike Obama is. And it’s striking how many Americans have responded by going for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, who are bad versions of the bounding in/we-can-change-everything doggy type."
Well, I have just finished discussing Brooks's opinion piece with my two canine friends Arnold and Munchkin, and they were both offended by David's metaphor. "Heck," Arnold said to me, "Trump praised the Tiananmen Square massacre. Even Munchkin, who is little more than a puppy, is smarter than that."
I told Arnold that Trump had backtracked a bit last night during the Miami debate and had referred to Tiananmen Square as a "riot." "You see," Arnold replied, "he has the brains of a hamster."
Brooks's comparison of Obama with a cat? Munchkin had a few choice words: "Looking for a pressure point here or there? I don't think so. But backing away from a red line involving the use of chemical weapons by Assad was akin to drawing a line in a sand trap and then relieving yourself there instead." I didn't quite follow the analogy, but I cautioned Munchkin not to get vulgar.
Goldberg's article? Jeffrey writes:
"Obama believes that the Manichaeanism, and eloquently rendered bellicosity, commonly associated with Churchill were justified by Hitler’s rise, and were at times defensible in the struggle against the Soviet Union. But he also thinks rhetoric should be weaponized sparingly, if at all, in today’s more ambiguous and complicated international arena. The president believes that Churchillian rhetoric and, more to the point, Churchillian habits of thought, helped bring his predecessor, George W. Bush, to ruinous war in Iraq. Obama entered the White House bent on getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan; he was not seeking new dragons to slay."
Ted Cruz declared, "One of the very first acts President Obama did upon being elected was sending Churchill’s bust back to the UK, and I think that foreshadowed everything that was to come the next six years." Cruz may have been right.