09 Apr 2009

Apologizer in Chief

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Jon Ward, at the Washington Times, explains that making concessions to the other point of view, then pivoting and asking for favors, concessions, and understanding of the American perspective is just President Obama’s characteristically preferred technique of deal-making and consensus-building.

Besides incorporating the president’s preferred approach in all circumstances of conflict of sweet-talking manipulation, Obama’s apologies also provide undoubtedly agreeable opportunities for continuing the partisan Bush-bashing, America-bashing narrative fundamental to the left’s world view.

America, to hear President Obama tell it, is an occasionally arrogant nation struggling with shameful legacies of racism and discrimination, one that bears a large share of the blame for the world’s economic and climate crises. Oh, and our train service is lousy.

Mr. Obama’s just-concluded eight-day trip abroad, his first major international foray, also marked the debut of a more humble foreign-policy style, one that sought to use cultural concessions and admissions of past mistakes to disarm other countries before challenging their own policies and attitudes toward America.

Repeatedly on a trip that included stops across Europe and in Iraq, Mr. Obama tried to pre-empt criticism of the United States by expressing it first himself – a sharp break from the practice of President George W. Bush.

Mr. Obama told Europeans that “America has shown arrogance” toward their continent, conceded that the United States bears much of the blame for the world’s economic plight, and said in a speech broadcast throughout the Middle East that America is still dealing with its “darker” legacies of discrimination and mistreatment of minorities.

David Axelrod, one of the president’s closest advisers, said Mr. Obama’s approach is one “he’s always believed in. …

There were moments when Mr. Obama’s determination to show deference to other cultures – countering the image of America as a cowboy nation, uninterested in anything beyond its shores – bordered on the bizarre.

Asked in Strasbourg, France, about a proposed Afghan law that human rights groups say gives husbands the right to rape their wives, Mr. Obama condemned the law, but also said America should be “sensitive to local culture.” His bottom line was that in Afghanistan, the U.S. focus “is to defeat al Qaeda,” but the comment came across as a rationalization of abuse against women.

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