Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Perception of Presidential Impotence

The sad fact is that there’s not much the Obama administration can do, in the short term, to bend developments in Egypt to its will. And that means that Obama has a political problem despite the fact that earlier administrations would have reacted in substantially the same way. No administration can avoid inciting the ire of its ideological and political opponents. But the perception of its impotence saps its support across the political spectrum. Remember the political price Obama paid for not being able to "plug the damn hole" in the Gulf?  
The same sort of thing is likely to happen in connection with events spiraling out of Obama's control in Egypt.  Here’s a little quiz. Who said this?  
“It might seem surprising that Mubarak was so willing to defy the Obama administration’s clear hint that he s[h]ould quickly transition out of power. In fact, Mubarak’s slap in the face of President Obama will not be punished and it is nothing new. It shows again American toothlessness and weakness in the Middle East, and will encourage the enemies of the US to treat it with similar disdain.”
If I didn't already know the answer I would have said Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol or some other neo-con.

Answer: it’s the famous left-wing Middle-East scholar Juan Cole.  If you read the whole thing, you'll discover that Cole punctuates his disparagement of Obama with some anti-Israel boilerplate that you'd never hear from a Krauthammer or a Kristol.  But the disparagement of Obama sounds pretty much the same.


Lone Wolf said...

Obama's got a trump card to play--cutting off billions of dollars of subsidies for the Egyptian elite. He ought to be able to find some way to assert himself.

Anonymous said...

There will never be a cut off of subsidies as long as a moderate is running Egypt. But the events overtaking Egypt are far from over. In fact, things have taken a turn for the worse sine Obama's little speech the other day.