Obama: Incompetent or Malevolent?

In the last analysis, is the question really that important?

The phrase “politics as usual” has gained a certain currency in our time. Regrettably, it is no longer relevant. What we are presently witnessing cannot be described as politics as usual. Consider the concatenation of events and factors that now confront us: the upsurge of terrorism and the growing strength of Islamic radicalism, a United Nations that has violated its Charter and is now home to totalitarian regimes and rogue nations, the international ostracism of Israel and an impending war in the Middle East, the American betrayal of its allies and a foreign policy that supports the Muslim Brotherhood and faux Arab revolutions, the corrupting influence of the left in the mainstream media and the universities, the potential economic implosion of Europe and possibly of the United States as well, and perhaps most distressingly at so critical a historical juncture, the election of Barack Obama, a man with neither business, military nor executive experience, to the most powerful office in the world.

What we are observing is, in fact, the politics of the unusual, a perfect storm of forces and influences that threaten the democratic polity of the West and augur a coming epoch of peril and convulsion. And the one bulwark that might have resisted the towering wave of oncoming misfortune appears to be crumbling before our eyes. I am referring, of course, to the United States of America.

What happened to New Orleans when Katrina struck is only a microcosm of the devastation that is now brewing. People rushed to blame President Bush for the disaster that devastated the city, but they were dementedly wrong or simply seeking to extract political profit from a natural catastrophe exacerbated by civic ineptitude. There can be no doubt, however, that President Obama is at the center of the approaching tsunami. I have long argued that the most dangerous man in the world is not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-il or Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, but Barack Hussein Obama. This, I believe, is no exaggeration.

In a troubling article for American Thinker, Stella Paul contends that in electing Obama to the presidency, Americans “tried to create a god to defend our freedom, because it was easier than the hard work needed to defend it ourselves.” The result proves that outsourcing courage or delegating integrity, especially to an unknown quantity, always backfires. To cite the title of the famous 1949 book charting the defection of former communists, Obama, like communism itself, ineluctably became “the god that failed.” Paul goes so far as to claim that “the destruction that Obama wrought may ultimately dwarf the wreckage of 9/11.”

Judging by the poll data, a majority of Americans—a considerable number prone to buyer’s remorse—have come round to sharing this view of Obama’s dreadful stewardship of the nation and the destabilizing effect he has had on world affairs. His conduct in office has sapped the economic strength of the U.S. and impaired the rule of law (e.g., his bypassing congress in the Libyan adventure), sowed fear and confusion among our allies, prepared the scene for the rise of inimical movements and states, and materially weakened the democratic West. But the jury is still out on whether he is “only” a bungling amateur or is motivated by a spirit of ingrained hostility toward his own country.

The debate is gaining momentum as both the foreign and domestic situations plummet from bad to worse. Is Obama merely incompetent, a man completely out of his depth who has no understanding of real-world economics or realpolitik, who cannot deliver a coherent speech without the aid of a teleprompter, who is compelled to rely on the advice of sharpers and operators, and who has absolutely no prior, genuine accomplishments to his credit outside of a capacity for political maneuvering, polished mendacity and, as David Remnick gushed in The Bridge, the ability to wear perfectly creased trousers? A community organizer as president? A feckless nonentity as Commander-in-Chief?

Or is Obama by no means incompetent but, on the contrary, a brilliant neo-Marxist tactician, a man with a hard-left Alinskyite agenda for the subversion of the United States as a liberal, free-market democracy and its transformation into a socialist oligarchy? A man who deeply resents the primacy and exceptionalism of the country he governs and wishes for nothing more—or less—than to see its status in the world diminish in payback for its perceived transgressions as a pre-eminent power? Are his methods the fruit of deep-dyed education and meticulous reflection? We may be inclined to think so when we assess the evidence: the appointment of unaccountable “czars” to control the life of the nation, the blizzard of bureaucratic regulations that stifle entrepreneurship, the effective nationalization of much of the economy, the partnership with thugocratic unions, the amnesty for illegal immigrants to secure a reliable voting base, the alienation of democratic allies and the coddling of various despotic regimes, including the nascent tyrannies emerging from the so-called “Arab Spring.”

Which is it? Is America governed by a grown-up toddler who has turned the White House into a rumpus room where he can build, dismantle and rebuild Lego-like structures at whimsy or play his video games which he mistakes for reality? Or does he resemble a Mafia-like don surrounded by a gang of tax cheats, perverters of justice, arm-twisters, enforcers of union violence, thieves who call their method of extortion “redistribution,” vote-pilferers and cartel gun-runners?

I suspect that the answer is: both. On the one hand, Obama is demonstrably incompetent, overly dependent on his advisors and backers, far more preoccupied with the high life than with the life of ordinary Americans (e.g., his $50,000 a week vacation rental on Martha’s Vineyard) egregiously miseducated and with little grasp of world history (e.g., the Cairo speech where he managed to get his centuries wrong) or even of the standard usages of the English language (what, pray tell, is a “corpse-man”?), and prone to innumerable gaffes equalled only, perhaps, by those of his vice-president.

At the same time, he is clearly a dedicated socialist, known for his far-left proclivities as a junior senator, his revolutionary friends (Bill Ayers, Louis Farrakhan, Rashid Khalidi), his sinistral mentors from Frank Marshall Davis to Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and his domestic and foreign policies that plainly demonstrate his sympathies and commitments in favor of syndicalist ideas and the left side of the political spectrum in general. In their must-read pamphlet Breaking the System, David Horowitz and Liz Blaine compellingly argue that Obama is implementing the notorious Cloward-Piven strategy, enfeebling America by attacking its economic foundations. Obama and his leftist administration are determined to bankrupt the nation as “a way to bind future generations to government dependency and to weaken ‘imperial’ America in the world at large.” Obama’s declared intention to pursue a program of “fundamentally transforming” a country that has no need of such an ideological mutation and his penchant for quite ruthlessly demonising his opponents reveals a peculiar streak of malevolence that few had initially suspected. And it must be admitted that he is proceeding to realize his project rather competently.

As they say, whatever. It’s a fascinating speculation that continues to engage the attention of president-watchers, including this writer. Nevertheless, when we take stock of the current situation, the question of whether Obama is incompetent or malevolent, or even a mixture of both, remains entirely theoretical and, in the last analysis, no doubt undecidable. Irrespective of the president’s nature, capacities or purposes, the real issue is not origins but conclusions, not sources but sequels. For whether incompetent or malevolent or both, the most unfit president in the history of the Republic, bar none, will not rest content until he has brought every American asset and advantage and ally crashing to the ground.