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April 28, 2009

Smiling at Evil

Obama Chavez We've all been treated recently to photos of our president smiling broadly and making cooing noises toward dictators like Hugo Chavez.  Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an Obama supporter, is disturbed by this seeming show of affection for modern-day Hitlers, if for no other reason than that it is "disheartening" for those living under tyranny to see the leader of the free world cozying up to despots and terrorists.  Read his article here and tell us what you think. 

(Image © AP)

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Michael Snow

Just a comment on one point: rewnewing our relationship with Cuba.

In the Soviet era, all the things said of Cuba, here, could be said of them. Yet we did not islolate them as we have Cuba. And which was the greater threat? Of course, there is no comparison.

What's caused such a difference? A voting block with a powerful lobby line to the policitians beggering votes.

For Christians, this policy is one of the great shames of our country. "Love your neighbor as yourself...If your enemy is hungry, feed him..."



Your comments about a voting block with a powerful lobby line reflects the typical American ignorance about Cuba. If you had family members, friends, that were killed by the Castro regime. When you see your parents depressed when they see pictures of their neighborhood. When you see in the eyes of your parents or granparents the possibility of never returning to their country. Maybe you will understand the intensity and the wounds of this "voting block with a power lobby."

Jason Taylor

The reason we isolated Russia and not Cuba is the very reason that Russia is more of a threat and therefore it is impractical to remain out of contact. Furthermore Cuban exiles are influential and White Russians are not.

As it happens a President does have to have some contacts with foreign rulers-some of which are certainly going to be evil. Obama could have more concern for our dignity to be sure.


Obama certainly has sent a message that the era of U.S. intervention is over. For those who live under terror, it would seem they're stuck with whomever is in power, and that there would be a certain audacity to maintaining hope.

It would seem a ripe topic for comparison: the belief systems of Obama, and the dictators he embraces. I'm personally leery of making them *that* identical, but certainly they share the conviction that a country should provide for all the needs of its citizens, and that to some extent nationalism should replace religion to the point that political dissent is heresy, punishable in like manner. Perhaps the Left is turning from nationalistic fascism to pan-national communism. But, that only works in today's world if the commune is Islamic, so I foresee a clash between Muhammad and Marx.


I'm with Michael on Cuba. And about the Obama smile: if you folks are so convinced of the duplicitous nature of our president, why would him smiling at Chavez make him any less likely to take the tinpot on if push comes to shove? I think if Chavez gave us any serious beef, he'd regret it. Obama knows how to win. Believe me, the smile and the handshake are nothing to get in a tizzy about. You take on Obama, you lose, sooner or later, one way or another. That's the thing I like best about him.

Jason Taylor

"You take on Obama you lose...?

What is he a gang leader, Andy?


I was reading recently about a French newspaperman who was complaining to some other European about how horrible Americans are. The other person replied that were it not for the Americans, that Frenchman's employer would not be named "Le Monde", but rather "Die Welt".

It's rather like when Charles de Gaulle insisted that LBJ remove all the Americans from French soil, and LBJ asked if that included the corpses interred near Omaha Beach.

Thomas Friedman told us "The World Is Flat", but it seems it's not so flat without someone keeping the dictators at bay. Even with that, we still seem to be heading to a remake of "Black Hawk Down" on a global scale. That, or we simply fiddle as not just Rome but everywhere else burns.

Hey, Jason, hasn't America tried this whole isolationist "do whatever you want as long as you don't mess with me" thing a few times before? How well did those work out?

I have an international flight coming up. What with this, and swine flu - oy. Obama did deal with the Somali pirates appropriately, but I wonder how he'd deal with a foreign government killing a handful of Americans abroad. If I find out, please, everyone - keep witnessing to Andy for me. I'd like to meet him in person in the hereafter, and give him a hug.


Jason: Just the fact. If you look at his career, you see that when it comes to a fight, he finds a way to win. I like that.


It is troubling to see some of these actions, but perhaps that is only because we choose to attach too much significance to these superficial acts. Surely no reader of the Point is swayed into thinking Chavez is a good guy just because the president shakes his hand; why do you suppose others are swayed? Are we just that much more discerning than the rest of the people?

The issue is the same for leaders of gangs, leaders of nations, and every individual - Christian, Jew, etc: image may count a little, but ultimately the truth of what you are will be known, and that will make all the difference.

Mike D'Virgilio

My two cents: Obama is a man of the left. You don't sit under the teaching of Pastor Jeremiah Wright for 20 years, "pal around" with Bill Ayers, study Saul Alinsky, and not have some affinity for what other men of the left, communists or socialists, around the world are doing. It's that simple.

Underneath that smooth veneer and calm demeanor lies the hart of a man who doesn't like America very much. When asked oversees if he believed in American exceptionalism, he said yes, just like Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism, and the English in British exceptionalism. A pitch perfect answer by a man of the left.

In fact he doesn't believe America is all that exceptional. As Michelle said during the campaign when he got the nomination, that she was proud of America for the first time in her life. To leftists America is fundamentally flawed and occasionally good. For them socialism is an ideal, not a fundamentally distorted way of trying to organize a society that has never worked.

Nothing Obama has done surprises me in the least.

Ben W

Mike: humanity is fallen - how can America be any different? Sure, you can say that the U.S. is a bastion of freedom and opportunity, but a lot of other countries are too. Just look at the well-publicized immigration from Middle Eastern/Asian countries to Europe and Canada.

*All* countries are fundamentally flawed.. don't you believe our country has room for improvement, or that other countries are doing better in any areas?

Jason Taylor

LeeQuod, it worked very well indeed and by the time it was no longer feasable we had a superfluity of resources that had NOT been used in European power struggles.

Ben, believing that your country is flawed and giving the impression that you hate your country are two different things.

Mike, that is the answer I would give and I am hardly a leftist. Your country is your country because it is your's not because it is "exceptional". To claim otherwise is to say that ones obligations depend on the approval of oneself.

Ben W

Jason - I don't think most leftists hate their country, Obama included. Likewise, I don't think most Christians hate themselves - but in both cases there are exceptions. Certainly recognizing one's flaws and failures is not the same as self-hatred.

Yay for isolationism! Except as it regards defending our allies. But it seems there's only a thin line between being the world's policeman and being isolationist.


Does anyone else find it disturbing that this is a man who purportedly "always wins"?

Has he ever admitted to any failure in his life? If he has, no one seems to have uncovered it yet, not even from his educational records.

If he has never experienced (or been allowed to experience) failure in his life, he has not had the opportunity to gain wisdom.

Oh, and to the topic here, I do find it disturbing that he gives the appearance of cozying up to dictators. I can't imagine how that affects people who have lived under and escaped such regimes as the Castro one in Cuba.

Jason Taylor

Ben, saying most leftists recognize their countries flaws and failures is rather like saying a Piranha recognizes bleeeding.

Ben W

Err.. link? Maybe to a poll or some other official/scientific opinion-collector?

Seriously, I've known a lot of Democrats, and none of them hate the U.S. Quite the opposite, usually, but their willingness to admit that our country isn't perfect is distorted as self-hatred by some on the other side of the aisle.

Txnplant: Obama's actions are pretty standard - Nixon restarted negotiations with China, Reagan (through Rumsfield) worked with Saddam Hussein, and Bush Jr. even kissed the king of Saudi Arabia:

Mike D'Virgilio

Democrats are not necessarily leftists. Nobody said all Democrats hate America, because not all Democrats are ideologically driven. I'm surrounded by normal folks who happen to be Democrats, and they are patriotic and love America.

I was talking about leftists. By every measure Obama was the most liberal Senator in the Senate and thus in my book a leftist. As president he is proving to be every bit the radical liberal as he was as a legislator.

Back at the 1984 Republican convention Jeane Kirkpatrick made famous a phrase that captures perfectly the mind of the left. She called the Democrats the "blame American first crowd." As Obama was recently on his apology tour he was the epitome of the "blame America first crowd." It was pathetic.

As for American exceptionalism, there is simply no comparison. With all her flaws, America is a unique experiment in human government and ordered liberty, unlike any other in the history of the world. I don't have statistics, but I would wager a large sum that more people from every part of the world want to come to America over every other country, because they know that America is the greatest country on earth.

Oops, so ethnocentric of me. Guilty as charged.

Jason Taylor

Well Ben, I've known a number of leftists too and yes they do hate the US.

They are not "willing" to admit that "our country isn't perfect"(which is not claimed by anyone) they are eager to do so. And "quite the opposite" is absurd. And that is not "distortion" that is personal experience.


"... but I wonder how he'd deal with a foreign government killing a handful of Americans abroad."

Lee, before you leave, please do tell us how he ought to handle it. I think we have unleashed at least a 100 to 1 kill ratio in response to the 9/11 killings. Will that suffice?


David wrote: "Lee, before you leave, please do tell us how he ought to handle it."

I have a little while yet before I go, if it even happens. But rather like the velociraptors in the first "Jurassic Park" movie, other nations are always testing the fences for weaknesses. They kidnap one or two here and there, and maybe even kill a few, and see what happens.

When the penalties for this behavior are severe, the behavior tends to be rare. When the penalties are low, it happens a lot. So I'd prefer to see stronger penalties.

And not for my own sake; when God calls me, I'm as ready as can be. But I know just how fast businesses can shut down travel to countries that are risky for their employees, and I know what that kind of shutdown can do to the already wounded global economy.

So even if you could really care less about people who get shot and dumped overboard ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Klinghoffer ) you should at least care about the impact that further suppressing the economy would have on the poorest of the poor.

And in spite of Jason Taylor's amazing and encyclopedic grasp of history, I'm still going to do my best to avoid the modern equivalent of the Lusitania, and the modern equivalent of a ship moored at Pearl Harbor. (You're correct, Jason, that I'm not a sailor. Howver, in today's world the enemy sees civilian citizens as combatants and therefore fair game.) Just seems to me that isolationism made both of those easier, even if they were inevitable.

"I think we have unleashed at least a 100 to 1 kill ratio in response to the 9/11 killings. Will that suffice?"

It all depends on the other guys and what convinces them to stop killing us. 100 to 1 seems to have prevented a repeat of 9/11 to this point. Would I prefer that the enemy submit to diplomacy instead of making us shoot them? Sure. But with the Japanese it took not only Hiroshima, *but also* Nagasaki. Go figure.

BTW, what would *you* say to the Klinghoffer sisters while they were sitting shiva for not just one but both parents (since Marilyn was on that cruise as a last fling before dying of colon cancer)? "We're sorry, but the President doesn't want to jeapordize our relations with the country harboring the people who murdered your father"? I'd think it'd be better to avoid that conversation altogether by carrying a big stick, but that's just me.

Ben W

Eh, I guess we'll have to just agree to disagree, Jason. About half my family is Democrat and half is Republican, and I can't think of a one of them who hates America (and 4/5 of the recently military ones are Democrat).

Hmm.. does saying "God damn America" and "our chickens are coming home to roost" imply hatred of America? What about saying that Hurricane Katrina was sent as punishment for America's evilness?

Ben W

Mike and Jason, are you talking about the same group of people?

I don't see how Obama has done anything to show that he hates America, nor how apologizing is unjustified (and as President, that would be his prerogative). I understand that you disagree with him on political, social, and theological issues - but can you find me *anything* he says that would imply he actually hates America?

Jason Taylor

Ben, saying "God damn America" certainly does imply hatred of America. If taken literally it means Wright desires that America go to Hell(which is probably theologically impossible as kings and kingdoms are mortal things). If taken literally it means that a preacher was cussing from the pulpit because of his anger. As for Katrina was a judgement, I have the highest distaste for such talk. It shows an uncouth delight in talking of judgement and is presumptuous besides unless God actually told him that.
The glorification of "dissent" for it's own sake is false and pernicious, The givers of jeremiads are like prison guards and hangmen. Their vocation is tolerable only because they are assumed to be alleviation of even mortal ills. The momment they draw the suspicion that they take pleasure in their calling is the momment they become loathsome. Unfortunatly that momment has come and passed.

Jason Taylor

LeeQuod, "isolationism" was not intended as a policy of being an easy mark. It was intended to leave us free to develop in our own sphere which geography by good fortune placed far from Great Power tangles. It also freed us from the intense millitary expenditures that were forced upon Continental European powers.

Thus when we entered the twentieth century we had a country with the size and population of Russia, the industrial prowess of Germany, and the maritime prowess and political genius of England. By the time becoming involved in Great Power tangles was unavoidable we had an overwhelming potential. And the World Wars which destroyed the British Empire(though it went out better then many empires and people who love power but love honor more are not to be despised)put us on top. Because we had a hundred years to prepare.

But no one dreamed that isolation would totally free us from war. American isolation was not the same as Swiss isolation. And even that depends on a "well-regulated militia" and very nasty terrain, and not on people's presumed good will.

As for the Lusitania, that was a more ambiguous issue then it seems. Liners were often used as troop transports and in fact the Lusitania carried munitions on board. While in fact we had no choice by the standards of the time but to declare war on Germany for sinking our shipping, merchant seamen have been traditionally considered almost as paramilitary rather then civilian and America used similar policies against both Britain(in the Revolution and in 1812)and against Japan in World War II.

As for passengers, I don't know if the captain of the U-boat intended to kill passengers but it seems more likly that he assumed no tourists would come into the area and that it was a transport. Which has nothing to do with whether we should have declared war in WWI. It was still an attack on American citizens But this point is a bit fairer to the Germans.

Mike D'Virgilio

Ben, I would say "hate" is the wrong word. It has too much emotional baggage. I'm not saying there are NOT many leftists who viscerally hate America, but Obama is not one of those.

I read something some time ago by John Podhoretz that I'll never forget and that explains so well the tendencies of both right and left and their views of America the Beautiful. He said:

The left tends to see America as fundamentally flawed and occasionally good, whereas the right sees America as fundamentally good and occasionally flawed. It could not be said any more concisely or any better.

To Obama and those who share his worldview, slavery and racism are the original sin of America. The stain of these on America's soul is something we cannot ever fully cleanse. For some it even calls into question the very legitimacy of the American experiment.

I could go into how America treated the Indians, Vietnam, the inequities of capitalism, individual liberty vs. the state and so on. But Obama is one who fundamentally distrusts the foundations of the American enterprise. This enterprise needs to be remade into the image of the modern European welfare state, which to him and every leftist, is a morally superior way to run a society.

Jason Taylor

"The left tends to see America as fundamentally flawed and occasionally good, whereas the right sees America as fundamentally good and occasionally flawed. It could not be said any more concisely or any better. "

That is because the Left compares America to Utopia and the Right compares it to the rest of the world.

Ben W

"That is because the Left compares America to Utopia and the Right compares it to the rest of the world."

You say things like this, and they don't make any sense to me. Maybe I'm not leftist enough - I don't see the US as fundamentally flawed beyond Man's fallen nature - I just think that some of the US' problems are of its own making. To the extent that we oppress orphans and widows, overthrow governments or encourage class warfare, it may come back to bite us in the butt. But I'm much more interested in *fixing* these problems than condemning America, even if that means having to apologize and losing some face.
Some other nations are more prosperous, more healthy, more free or more educated. So what can we do to learn from them and better ourselves?

Jason, I'll grant that there are some on the far left and right who would exult in judgment coming upon our country, and not for its redemption but for their own gratification. Traditional Democrats? not so much (at least, not the ones I know).

PS - Hannity had a big rant on Fox News about Obama hating America, which I would still call a distortion of Obama's apologies.


With do you expect from Obama? There is something called manors.

Should Obama have spit in his face? If Obama had spit in the face of the dictator.

Conserveitives would find falt in Obama for that.

Nixson made nice with the muderers Chairman Mow and Bregneve Former President Ford made Nice with Breganeve. So did Jimmy Carter. Raegin and Bush 41 made nices with the Soviet Dictator true Reagin squeesed Gobchove ontil Galssnos and deserves Credit.

G.W Bush made Budys with Putin who is fare more evil the Cheveze and I called Bush a Fool and a Dangerous one at that

one note all you people instend of thses None issue bits of nonesence should presser the GOP to be More Politicly Liberal and socaly Conservitive Like all the Evangelical bettween 1890 and 1980
and all the heck Nixson started the disstuction of Americas Industeral Base inorder to attack his Political apponents. Pat Bucanncon said so he was there in Nixons administation.
look at all the Conservitive movent was able to to the Run the United states into the grownd and But and end to the long standing commitment human rights and labor standers and respect for chraetion affecting US forgin policy and started the giveing away of all our money the tierrent and killers.
G.W. Bush finishs the job and Conservitives don't have Idealogicl Problums with with doing bussness with killers infact the Pro-life Movent has gotten nothing wall-steet and
wall-mart raped America as babys still are muredered

Jason Taylor

Of course I would fault Obama for spitting in the Saudi King's face Matthew. To spit at him says we hold him in contempt. To bow to him says we are his vassal. I do not wish to do either(whether or not we in fact do hold the Saudi King in contempt). It is not an either-or question.

And while there is something called manners, manors are large estates. And manners between countries dictate we at least go through the formality of being conquered before bowing to a foreign monarch.

Jason Taylor

As for why we should pressure the GOP to be presser the GOP to be "More Politicly Liberal and socaly Conservitive" I don't see why seeing as I am both politically and socially conservative.

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