NRL News

Barack Obama and Thomas Friedman: an interview for the ages

by | Aug 11, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Thomas Friedman and President Barack Obama

Thomas Friedman and President Barack Obama

Monday was spent putting the finishing touches on the August issue of National Right to Life News. That left just a few minutes to turn to our daily news feed, National Right to Life News Today.

But even with barely an hour left over, I had to say a couple of words about President Obama’s interview with New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman that appeared in the Times over the weekend. (Friedman tells us he actually interviewed him on Friday.)

It is impossible to read the transcript and not wonder if the President actually believes anything he told Friedman. There is so little connection to his musings, the real world, and, most importantly, how he has behaved the last six years.

The interview was about “foreign policy in a world of increasing disorder foreign,” as Friedman says in his first paragraph. But the way the President professes to explain his dilemma (as bad as his approval numbers are elsewhere, there are even worse for his handling of foreign policy) tells us all we really need to know why he is in the fix he is in.

Here are the three key paragraphs.

“At the end of the day, the president mused, the biggest threat to America — the only force that can really weaken us — is us. We have so many things going for us right now as a country — from new energy resources to innovation to a growing economy — but, he said, we will never realize our full potential unless our two parties adopt the same outlook that we’re asking of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds or Israelis and Palestinians: No victor, no vanquished and work together.

“’Our politics are dysfunctional,’ said the president, and we should heed the terrible divisions in the Middle East as a ‘warning to us: societies don’t work if political factions take maximalist positions. And the more diverse the country is, the less it can afford to take maximalist positions.’

“While he blamed the rise of the Republican far right for extinguishing so many potential compromises, Obama also acknowledged that gerrymandering, the Balkanization of the news media and uncontrolled money in politics — the guts of our political system today — are sapping our ability to face big challenges together, more than any foreign enemy. ”

To repeat, does he actually believe any of this? That there is any comparison to what is happening at home [“dysfunctional” politics] to what is taking place in many places abroad, where minorities are slaughtered like cattle? That the “far right” of the Republican party is a major reason we can’t “face big challenges together”?

Seriously, when it comes to “maximalist positions,” can you possibly get any further out to sea than ObamaCare?

As NRLC has patiently pointed out, many key provisions of the 2010 Obamacare health law sharply departed from that longstanding policy on abortion. Among other objectionable provisions, the ObamaCare law authorized massive federal tax subsidies to assist many millions of Americans to purchase private health plans that will cover abortion on demand.

And that doesn’t even address that the rationing that was built-in to ObamaCare.

Even his most slavishly loyal partisans in the media occasionally let on that the President simply is no longer (if he ever was) interested in governance; has never shown the slightest interesting in genuinely reaching out to Republicans, except to mock them and score points; is happiest when he in on the stump railing against Republicans for not being cooperative (think that one through); and spends most of days either on vacation or raising money.

Friedman quotes Obama saying

“Increasingly politicians are rewarded for taking the most extreme maximalist positions,’ he said, ‘and sooner or later, that catches up with you.”

Who might that be? Perhaps a quick look in the mirror might help clear that up for him.

Less than two weeks ago we wrote about the day that Mr. Obama’s Gallup approval ratings sank to 39% and speculated about whether his popularity was in a permanent free-fall. I argued then and I would argue today that whatever momentary blips in popularity he might subsequently experience, President Obama has irretrievably lost the trust of the American people.

If enough people read his interview with Friedman, that loss of trust will be cast in stone.

Categories: Obama