One of the most peculiar features of modern liberalism is its tendency to romanticize self-proclaimed enemies abroad while vilifying anyone with a dissenting opinion at home. The dark-hued fellow swinging a scimitar over his turbaned head while chanting “death to the infidels” is to be engaged as an authentic expression of righteous post-colonial rage, while the pale Baptist who has been living peaceably down the street the past many decades is to be regarded as a dangerous religious fanatic, and the antiquated economic customs of the most impoverished third world hellholes are celebrated for their ancient wisdom while any talk of capitalism or fiscal restraint are derided as heartless extremism in any country made wealthy by these principles.
This odd bias has been on bold display lately in two separate stories that have been prominent in the news. President Barack Obama has proudly announced that he will not deign to negotiate on the debt ceiling with the congressional Republicans, whom the president’s spokesman has likened to terrorists, but almost simultaneously he has just as proudly announced his eagerness to enter negotiations with the leaders of Iran, who actually are terrorists.. Aside from the strikingly odd prejudices involved, neither decision is likely to lead to a good result.
By refusing to negotiate with the Republicans who are quite non-violently exercising their constitutionally approved prerogative to spend the public’s funds and limit its debt, Obama is not only ensuring the government shutdown that he has issued the most dire warnings but also risking the wrath of the public which he has seemingly plotted to bring down on his adversaries. There is sufficient public indignation over the Obamacare law that the Republicans have reasonably calculated they can fight it even to a point that it shuts down much of the government for an extended period of time, and if they are correct in their calculations they can throw yet another monkey wrench into the already gummed-up works of the president’s signature legislation without harm to their chances in the upcoming mid-term elections. The president’s loudly stated refusal to even consider a compromise can only help the Republicans’ efforts, and precludes the possibility of any deal that might bolster his own faltering standing with the public. If the president’s pride did not override his political instincts, he could even accept the Republicans’ gift of a one-year delay on Obamacare’s widely hated individual mandate that would buy time for his befuddled bureaucracy to try and get things right while putting off the disastrous results of the policy past the next election cycle.
No such favorable outcomes can be expected from the negotiations with Iran over its ongoing efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran’s recently-elected figurehead president Hassan Rouhani is touted as a “moderate” in much of the press, but nothing in his long record suggests that he isn’t a hard-line Islamist and much of his career has been spent facilitating his country’s nuclear weapons by distracting a gullible western diplomatic corps with his endless talk and empty promises. After Obama’s bungling of the Syrian crisis into the willing hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a nonchalant United Nations Security Council, the wily Rouhani is likely to prove a far more formidable negotiator than in anyone the Republicans have in Congress. The red lines that Obama draws against murderous dictators have proved more impermanent than the ones he draws against the likes of House Speaker John Boehner, and Rouhani has certainly noticed.
Figurative terrorists are always more frightening to the modern liberal than literal ones, however, and the results don’t seem to matter.
— Bud Norman