Obama: I believe in American Acceptionalism.
Putin: You convinced me already.
Obama: I had thought you only understood my flexibility.
Putin: Everyone knows you transformed America from Exceptional to Acceptional:
- America now accepts my acceptance of Crimea.
- America now accepts my control of the Middle East.
- America now accepts Hamas, the ally of my allies, Syria and Iran.
- America now accepts Iran's nuclear program.
- America now accepts Soviet-Style HealthCare, which you cleverly labeled "Affordable Care."
- America now accepts limiting its oil and coal production to enhance the value of Russian oil and Chinese coal.
- America now accepts Global-Warming limitations on its economy to boost the value of Russia's and China's carbon-industry expansions.
- America now accepts its Debtor-Nation status to boost the value of Russia's and China's currencies.
- America now accepts ISIS in Iraq.
- America now accepts the need for Israel to "meet half-way" with those who demand its destruction.
- America now accepts Libya as a failed-state haven for anti-western fanatics.
- America now accepts Russian primacy in space.
- America now accepts my ally, China, as the soon-to-become colonizer of the Moon.
- America now accepts entry of anyone and everyone wanting to cross the border into America.
- America now accepts the glorification of mediocrity and rejection of the elitist notion of meritocracy.
- America now accepts the kind of Crony Capitalism I have pioneered in Russia as better route to Sustainable Statism.
- America now accepts the U.S. Constitution as an outmoded document rendered irrelevant by Executive Orders.
- America now accepts desertion of its former allies and paliation of its former enemies.
- America now accepts that it must "stop the hatin' of Obamaism and all other forms of progressivism and collectivism"
- America now accepts its state-run media ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, NYT, WaPo, LaT as reliable sources for The Current Truth.
- America now accepts your plan for "Peace by 2016" by neutering America's military.
- America now accepts your "hatin' on the Tea Party."
- America now accepts its status as the Most Acceptional Country in Human History.
- America now accepts The People's Cube to replace the unfairly-challenging Rubic's Cube.
Obama: I just wanted to be sure you understand my position. ....
Update-Considering the "Survive the End Days" package or wondering if the 2017 doomsday prophecy theory it uses could be true? Find out the truth about the author "Nathan Shephard" and the many errors in how it uses Bible prophecy to predict WWIII during President Obama’s last years.
"Macho Man" vs."Girly Boy"?
A few years ago a series of photos circulated contrasting “macho-man” Vladimir Putin and “girly-boy” Barack Obama. Last year the Huffington Post posted twenty-one Putin photos under the heading “Is Vladimir Putin the ultimate man?” In these various poses we see a shirtless Putin, muscles bulging, swimming, hunting, fishing, horse-back riding. He is also in judo, hockey, skiing, and diving outfits, and we are reminded that he has earned black belts in judo and karate and is an ardent amateur hockey player—in a recent match he is reputed to have “knocked in seven goals.” We also see him in a race car, speed boat, and fighter jet, and on a motorcycle, as well as next to a bear and tiger (both tranquilized).
In contrast, Republican attacks against Obama constantly charge that he is weak or feckless—code for unmanly?—regarding Putin, terrorists, Iran, and others. As much as they vilify Putin, conservatives constantly bemoan that Obama is not as “tough” as Putin. At times, their polemics suggest that the main difference between Republicans and Democrats is that the former is the party of macho men and the latter of “bleeding-heart liberals,” secular feminists, and “sissy” eggheads.
A former law professor, Obama has often been accused of being too professorial, of being what earlier might be called an “egghead.” As Richard Hofstadter indicated in his Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1962), one writer (in 1952) defined an egghead as “a person of spurious intellectual pretensions, often a professor or the protégé of a professor. Fundamentally superficial. Over-emotional and feminine in reactions to any problem. Supercilious and surfeited with conceit and contempt for the experience of more sound and able men.” As Aaron Lecklider makes clear in Inventing the Egghead: The Battle over Brainpower in American Culture, conservatives often identified Adlai Stevenson, Democratic presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956 against Republican candidate retired General Dwight Eisenhower, as just such an unmanly egghead.
Today leaders of both major parties realize that most Americans want a leader who is “tough” and strong. And Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate to replace Obama, projects herself as just such a leader and has indeed been more hawkish than President Obama, for whom she served as secretary of state. (Must every woman in the English-speaking world be a hawkish iron-lady like Britain’s Margaret Thatcher if she wishes to lead her country?)
Moreover, is a macho leader really what we need? Or is such a desire too simplistic, a primitive throwback, perhaps appropriate in pre-modern times, but not today? The title of HNN editor Rick Shenkman’s forthcoming book, Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics suggests that following our gut instincts can often lead us astray.
Like Al Gore in his book The Assault on Reason, Shenkman quotes recent findings of neuroscientists and recognizes that humans seldom act rationally. But he also believes that when it comes to politics, the times when we can unquestioningly go with our instincts are almost nil.” Instead, we have to rely more on “higher-order cognitive thinking,” which gives “us the ability to respond creatively to problems we encounter.” He also emphasizes the importance of culture “in shaping our behavior.”
In earlier essays, I have also stressed the importance of cultural influences and considered the effects of films in U.S. culture, many of which have romanticized war. In 1977 Philip Caputo recalled how as a young college student in 1960 he enrolled in a Marine officer training program partly as a result of the romantic heroism of such war movies as Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Guadalcanal Diary (1943), and Retreat, Hell! (1952) He explained his motivation as such: “The heroic experience I sought was war; war, the ultimate adventure; war, the ordinary man's most convenient means of escaping from the ordinary. . . . Already I saw myself charging up some distant beachhead like John Wayne in Sands of Iwo Jima, and then coming home a suntanned warrior with medals on my chest . . . I needed to prove something—my courage, my toughness, my manhood.” (After being sent to Vietnam and witnessing atrocities there, he no longer saw combat in such a macho way.)
In a recent essay I quoted Caputo as well as an article by David Masciotra contrasting two opposing views of masculinity as presented in the films American Sniper and Selma. In the first film, according to Masciotra, we see “the prevailing and prevalent projection of American manhood [which] is at once a cartoon, simplistic in its emphasis on strength and eschewal of sensitivity, and dangerous in its celebratory zeal for violence. It is not masculine as much as macho”; in the second film, about Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil-rights protestors, Masciotra thinks we see a truer and nobler type of masculinity.
In his book on war Gwynne Dyer has written, “The most important factor that makes it possible for men to fight in the terrible battles of civilized states is that all armies everywhere have always exploited the ancient and ingrained warrior ethic that is the cultural heritage of every young human male.”
More than a century ago philosopher William James realized how deeply ingrained this warrior ethic was. He wrote that “the military feelings are too deeply grounded to abdicate their place among our ideals until better substitutes are offered.” And several years earlier, “What we now need to discover in the social realm is the moral equivalent of war: something heroic that will speak to men as universally as war does, and yet will be as compatible with their spiritual selves as war has proved itself to be incompatible.”
Dying four years before World War I began in 1914, James did not live long enough to see just how horrendous the effects of macho militarism could be, but he realized that national leaders who advocated the militarism, nationalism, and imperialism that characterized his era were headed for tragic consequences. One of his former pupils at Harvard was Theodore Roosevelt (TR), who served as president for most of the first decade of the twentieth century and later urged his country to enter the war against Germany long before it finally did in 1917. James criticized TR for being a man who “gushes over war as the ideal condition of human society, for the manly strenuousness which it involves, and treats peace as a condition of blubberlike and swollen ignobility, fit only for huckstering weaklings, dwelling in gray twilight and heedless of the higher life.”
Of all our presidents, TR is the most similar to Putin in his emphasis on “manly” sports. Both before and after assuming our highest office, he boxed, wrestled, hunted, swam, hiked, and played tennis. In an 1899 lecture he emphasized the virtues of “the strenuous life.” In his The Games Presidents Play, John Sayle Wattersonranks our presidents in the categories of “Best All-Around Sportsmen” and “Best at Using Sports to Advance Their Presidencies,” and TR comes out on top in both categories. He was also one of more hawkish presidents.
In 1897 he wrote to a friend, “I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one.” The next year he resigned his position as assistant secretary of the Navy in order to personally fight in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. He also supported U.S. imperialism, which manifested itself at the time by not only taking over the Philippines, Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico, but also by turning Cuba and Panama into U.S. protectorates—the latter having been part of Colombia until TR supported a Panamanian revolution in order to arrange building a canal in the territory.
Roosevelt was especially contemptuous of pacifists and hated the “foolish theory that men should never make war.” He believed that the Navy was an “infinitely more potent factor for peace than all the peace societies.” Pressured into sending his secretary of state to participate in the second international peace conferences at The Hague, Netherlands in 1907, he admitted he paid little attention to it because he was “‘utterly disgusted’ with the nonsense chattered by professional peace advocates.”
But if such macho sentiments often lead to war, what sort of values should we look for in a twenty-first century leader? In Political Animals, Shenkman writes that “democracy demands that voters exercise wisdom when making political choices.” And I have written at greater length on our need for leaders to possess political wisdom. Such wisdom necessitates not only virtues that are often identified with toughness such as self-discipline, passion, and courage, but also others like prudence, compassion, empathy, humility, tolerance, creativity, temperance, the proper mix of realism and idealism, and a willingness to compromise, all in a quest to further the common good.
To progress toward achieving a more peaceful and sustainable world, toughness is not enough. When taken too far so that it leads to machismo and war hawkishness, and not balanced by other qualities, it can lead to war. From the times of Theodore Roosevelt to the rule of Vladimir Putin we have often witnessed this, both in real life and in media such as John Wayne films, Rambo,and American Sniper. Only, as Caputo discovered in Vietnam, war is more of an ugly and tragic reality than the glorious adventure often depicted in films.
All of the above does not ignore, as the philosopher James did not, the value of physical fitness, sports, or admirable qualities like bravery and self-sacrifice that soldiers often display. Nor does it deny the admirability of someone like Winston Churchill for insisting that appeasing Hitler was folly. Nor that in these terrorist times we need strong (but intelligent) responses.
But to criticize President Obama for not being more hawkish, to suggest that he is unmanly, is a mistake. What we should want in our leaders, whether male or female, U.S. or foreign, is wise people who know how to balance wise values. Some of them like compassion were once considered more feminine, while others like courage were thought more manly, but we realize today that such thinking was simplistic at best. If our choice is between a “macho man” like Putin or a leader like Obama who demonstrates more of a mix of what were once thought masculine and feminine virtues, the world would be better off with more Obamas.
WHO'S WINNING IN SYRIA?
Politico, MSNBC and a variety of other outlets have run pieces touting the claim that Obama has had the last laugh on Putin in Syria. Russian forces are in a "quagmire". Obama predicted it. Ha Ha.
Now despite the PR, Putin hasn't gotten much done in Syria. But then again neither has Obama. The ground war depends largely on erratic militias and what's left of the Syrian Army. ISIS is a wild card keeping both sides in the civil war on their toes. Air strikes can only do so much to move a war forward when the ground forces are poor.
Putin hasn't won the war for Assad. But then again Obama hasn't won anything for anyone. So the gleeful media tone is on the silly side.
The real outcome looks like it's going to emerge from the peace talks. Putin's goal is to keep Assad in power. Obama's goal is to shove the Muslim Brotherhood in. Or at least that used to be the goal.
Obama's Oval Office contained a rather ambiguous reference to a deal with Russia.
Fourth, with American leadership, the international community has begun to establish a process -- and timeline -- to pursue ceasefires and a political resolution to the Syrian war. Doing so will allow the Syrian people and every country, including our allies, but also countries like Russia, to focus on the common goal of destroying ISIL -- a group that threatens us all.
There was no mention of Assad. Just a deal with Russia. What that deal is going to involve is an open question. But let's look at the track record here.
1. Putin rolled Obama on Syrian WMDs.
2. Putin rolled Obama on Iranian nukes.
Even if I had a houseful of holographic Obama posters and a signed first edition of Dreams From My Father, I wouldn't be betting on Obama in this round.
Putin has sent some equally ambiguous signals regarding the so-called Free Syrian Army. But that likely means that the Russians want to draw in some Sunni rebel groups into a coalition with Assad. Such a plan might be viable. Though making deals with Islamists ends badly. Just ask Gaddafi if you can find him.
If Putin can hammer out some kind of Sunni-Assad coalition, Obama loses. And Obama will personally sign off on his own beating. Just like he did every other time.
But there's no realistic way that Obama can get Putin to sign off on any government that isn't closely allied with Russia. Putin didn't put this much money, prestige and manpower on the line just to give his blessing to a non-allied government.
Obama needs Assad to leave. Putin might be willing to agree to replacing Assad with another allied Alawaite leader. Or a Sunni puppet of his own. That would let Obama save face. The media would triumphantly declare that Obama got Assad out. Meanwhile Putin would win.
That's a plausible scenario.
If Putin can end the fighting and keep Syria, he could let Obama have his little victory dance. And the media would be more than happy to pretend that Obama won.