Shortly after the Winter Olympics, back when Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea and was making moves into eastern Ukraine, he seemed to become the darling of some of the administration’s harshest foreign policy critics.
After the action in Crimea, former New York Mayor, Rudi Giuliani, seemed to admire how the Russian leader was so decisive, telling Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, “[H]e makes a decision and he executes it, quickly. And then everybody reacts. That’s what you call a leader,” Giuliani said.
In March, Sarah Palin, said this to Sean Hannity:
Well, yes, especially under the commander-in-chief that we have today because Obama’s — the perception of him and his potency across the world is one of such weakness. And you know, look, people are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.
Rush Limbaugh weighed in too:
Well, did you hear that the White House put out a photo of Obama talking on the phone with Vlad, and Obama’s sleeves were rolled up? That was done to make it look like Obama was really working hard—I mean, really taking it seriously. His sleeves were rolled up while on the phone with Putin! Putin probably had his shirt off practicing Tai-Chi while he was talking to Obama.
Michigan Congressman, Mike Rogers, head of the House Intelligence Committee:
Putin is playing chess and I think we’re playing marbles.
You get the drift.
Regrettably for the man who would wrestle bears and drill for oil, it would appear that the luster is now off the big crush. Being connected to the downing of a civilian airliner has that effect. But now it’s getting even worse. Even Europe, deathly afraid of imposing serious sanctions against the Russians for fear of hurting their economies, is beginning to stir. The leaders of Britain, Germany and France had a telephone conference over the weekend and appear to be heading for more substantive actions against Putin.
The Dutch, who suffered more fatalities than any other nation in the downing of the Malaysian airliner, were described at first, as being in a deep state of shock and mourning. But now, after the Russian separatists who control the accident site continue to reportedly restrict access to international investigators; after the disturbingly callous and incompetent handling of the remains of the dead becomes more and more evident- they are described as furious.
Turns out, or so it seems, that Mr. Putin was not playing chess very well. That would require one to look several steps ahead. He doesn’t appear to be the “long-view,” strategic type, to say the least. In fact, I’d say he’s been revealed to be playing a game of one-dimensional checkers all along.
He also strikes me as the type who, when sensing he’s on the losing side, will never give in, and instead of losing graciously, is more likely to upend the entire checker board and stalk off, blaming it all on a sudden gust of wind. Very manly, indeed.
But regardless of how one feels in the specific case of Rush Limbaugh’s remarks about Georgetown University student, Sarah Fluke last week, central to the issue of the efficacy of economic boycotts is the concept of money and the free market.
The Supreme Court has made it pretty clear that money is a vehicle for the expression of protected 1st amendment rights. In the matter of Citizens United, the high court upheld the rights of corporations and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.
The underlying philosophical foundation would also support the concept of economic boycotts because they too involve the use of money as a means of political expression. Not the spending of it, but the strategic denial of it.
And it is, perhaps, ironic in the case of the Rush controversy, that presuming that many on the political right are extreme free market proponents, the use of the economic leverage of the boycott, really is use of the free market; manipulating it as an expression of free speech.
So whether you’re boycotting Bill Maher’s advertisers for an ill-advised and, some would argue, grotesque tweet about Tim Tebow a couple of months ago, or angry with Rush Limbaugh for his vitriolic rhetorical attack on a young female college student, looks to me like the law is- more than ever- firmly behind you if you decide to stop buying products from companies whose perceived values are incompatible with your own.
To the anti-boycott/free speech advocates- if there really is a marketplace for ideas in this country- a place where people pay through their purchases and their listening or viewing habits, to make it possible for some to shout their views from an electronic pulpit- no one is ever losing their right of expression.
The only thing affected by the power of money- is the size of the pulpit. How people choose to spend their time and money and show their attraction or revulsion to the product, determines whether that pulpit is amplified through a 50,000-watt radio or television tower, or relegated to 45 people reading the daily rants of a lonely website.
Either way, though, it’s still free expression. Nobody said you have the absolute right to get rich off of it.
He was not being sarcastic. Turns out he was being sarcastic. Rush Limbaugh opened his program today by saying, “Thank God for President Obama.” Politico has now updated its original take and now says El Rushbo was in full mockery mode.
He went on to say:
“Ladies and gentlemen, we need to open the program today by congratulating President Obama. President Obama has done something extremely effective, and when he does, this needs to be pointed out….
President Obama, perhaps the only qualified member in the room to deal with this, insisted on the Special Forces. No one else thought of that…not a single intelligence adviser, not a single national security adviser, not a single military adviser came up with the idea of using SEAL Team 6 or any Special Forces.”
That turned out to be part of the mockery as well.
Former New York City Mayor and vociferous Obama critic, Rudi Guiliani, actually was sincerely gracious today:
“I feel a great deal of satisfaction that justice has been done, and I admire the courage of the president to make a decision like this because if something had gone wrong everyone would be blaming him and I admire the courage and professionalism of our military intelligence officials who carried this out and this is a great victory against terror. Nobody can minimize it. He was a symbol more than anything else right now but…symbols are really important.”
Others have been less than gracious, congratulating the military but failing to mention the role the President played in approving the surgical strike.
According to Politico.com:
Over the past seven weeks, Obama had chaired numerous National Security Council meetings on the topic, including ones on March 14, March 29, April 12, April 19 and April 28.
“In the lead up to this operation, the President convened at least 9 meetings with his national security Principals,” a senior administration official e-mailed reporters. “Principals met formally an additional five times themselves; and their Deputies met 7 times. This was in addition to countless briefings on the subject during the President’s intelligence briefings; and frequent consultations between the [White House National Security Council], CIA, [Defense Department] and Joint Staff. The President was actively involved in reviewing all facets of the operation.”
This was a total team effort; from the Situation Room in the White House to the incredible heroism and courage of the U.S. Special forces who despite losing a helicopter and going on with the mission anyway not knowing if they had a way out of there, pulled it off anyway.
This also speaks to the merits of continuity between Presidential administrations. The groundwork for this was laid by George W. Bush. And he deserves credit as well. There will always be debate about the tactics that were used and whether Iraq should have ever have been part of the equation. Those debates are for another day.
For now: justice served.
Narcissism (nahr-suh-siz-em)- noun: Inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity. Synonyms: self-centeredness, smugness, egocentrism.
I didn’t want to write about this. I just wanted to ignore them. But, I couldn’t. Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh are very good at getting publicity. This is how they help maintain their respective empires. I don’t mean to give them even more attention.
But when Pat Robertson concludes the people of Haiti deserved what they got because they made a deal with the devil; when Rush Limbaugh criticizes President Obama for acting too quickly on Haiti-I have to add my two cents to much that has already been said about this.
First the record. Here’s Pat Robertson on the 700 Club Tuesday:
Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about. They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘Ok it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.
Is he trying to impress us with his facile grasp of world history? Let me get this straight. The Haitian people made a deal with the devil to get the French to leave and are bad because they rebelled against the system of slavery? Exactly what is he trying to say? Is there a hidden message here about practitioners of voodoo? Does anyone really deserve to be crushed by collapsing buildings in a massive earthquake, let alone tens of thousands? Do children deserve to die in their school uniforms because their descendants kicked the French out? What kind of man, what kind of representative of faith and God, reaches such bizarre and cruel conclusions?
Here’s Rush Limbaugh:
This will play right into Obama’s hands. He’s humanitarian, compassionate. They’ll use this to burnish their, shall we say, “credibility” with the black community–in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It’s made-to-order for them. That’s why he couldn’t wait to get out there, could not wait to get out there.
The worst humanitarian disaster of the last half-century strikes the hemisphere and there’s something suspect about a quick reaction from the United States government- while people lay injured in rubble, and there’s a desperate race against time to save their lives? I ask again- what kind of man reaches such conclusions?
In both these cases, I believe we have the kind of men who are in love with the sound of their own voices but oblivious to the content that actually passes their lips. It’s verbal narcissism. It’s the only way to explain it.