At every point in some boy's life, he has to face down a bully and fight him. It's a rite of passage, a transitional moment in which every young man must establish who he is and how far he'll let his enemies go. For me, that moment came when I was 10 years old. One of the kids at school -- he seemed 8 feet tall at the time -- was smacking me with a ruler across the shoulders during P.E. class. Eventually, I'd had enough; I grabbed him around the neck and punched him on the top of the head. His nose started bleeding, to my surprise (I'm not exactly Joe Frazier). Naturally, the principal blamed me ("do you know how much money his father makes?" she asked my dad), but the bully never bothered me again.
The same holds true of presidents. Every president has to draw a line in the sand. Every president has to determine just how far he's willing to be pushed around. Every president has to decide who his enemies are, and then face them down.
President Obama has decided that his real enemies aren't Iranian genocidal dictators, anti-Semitic reporters or Muslim terrorists. His real enemies are conservatives and corporations.
How can we tell? From his rhetoric. Obama doesn't punch anyone in the face directly (not that his fists would do much damage, judging from the way he throws a baseball). But he does lash out at his enemies with his most valuable tool: his silver tongue. When Obama talks about his enemies, his honeyed mouth becomes a blunt instrument rather than a scalpel. The supposed master of the nuances of the English language is apparently rendered stupefyingly inarticulate when faced with those he dislikes; he's suddenly a WWE wrestler pumped up on testosterone, the mic boosted to deafening levels. He calls people out. He uses colorful and confrontational language. He threatens physical force.
When faced with the prospect of Americans who don't like his policies, Obama tells his followers to "argue with them and get in their face." When confronted with his administration's inability to handle the Gulf oil spill, Obama sends out his lackeys to threaten BP in purple terminology; " [we'll] keep our boot on [BP's] neck," they say. This week, Obama doubled down, stating that he had traveled to the Gulf region "so I know whose ass to kick."
Meanwhile, Obama's confrontational tone becomes downright dainty when faced with actual terrorists, murderers and anti-Semites. All of a sudden, the Chicago thug disappears, replaced by the man of considered diplomacy. After waiting for crucial days to comment on the burgeoning Iranian resistance in June 2009, Obama finally spoke ... with all the force of a small mewling kitten. "I would suggest that Mr. Ahmadinejad think carefully about the obligations he owes to his own people," Obama hesitantly intoned. When Obama was faced with the murderous hatred of Muslims like the Ft. Hood shooter, he urged Americans not to "jump to conclusions."
When Jew-hater Helen Thomas suggested that Jews in Israel return to the lands of the Holocaust, Germany and Poland, Obama said that her remarks were "out of line, " but said it was a "shame, because Helen's someone who ... was a real institution." (So was Father Coughlin, for the record.)
It would be one thing if Obama spoke softly and carried a large stick. But he speaks in velvet whispers and carries a corsage for the enemies of Western Civilization. John Brennan, Obama's pro-jihad alleged counterterrorism adviser, explains Obama's delicacy when it comes to those who truly threaten us: "We're trying to be very careful and precise in our use of language because I think the language we use and the images we project really do have resonance."
That isn't true, though, with regard to those who criticize President Obama in the natural course of legitimate political debate, nor is it true of private companies he can attack for his own political benefit. He'll slap them, punch them, scratch them, kick them with all the blustery force he can muster. After all, they're his chosen enemies.
You can tell a lot about a man by the enemies he makes. And you can tell who Obama's enemies are by the anger he displays when confronted with them; Obama's misplaced rage tells us more about where he stands than his teleprompter-ed utterances ever will. The problem for President Obama is that the enemies he identifies seem a good deal less dangerous than the friends he seeks.
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