NYT, via Phineas at Sister Toldjah:
Mr. Obama has told people that it would be so much easier to be the president of China. As one official put it, “No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s words in Tahrir Square.”
What might possess an American president to tell people that it would be easier to be president of China? Some possibilities…
For one thing, Obama is clearly much more interested in domestic policy than in foreign policy. He views it as his mission to reconstruct American society in ways that are more to his liking, and considers the need to deal with other countries to be an irritating distraction.
Another factor is that people often view other people’s jobs as being easier than their own–see the old children’s story about the farmer and his wife for an example. This is particularly true, it would seem, of people who are constitutionally of a jealous nature, who devote much of their mental energy to the suspicion that someone else has it better. Barack Obama seems to me to be of this ilk: there is no possible position in life he could assume that would overcome his feelings of jealousy and resentment toward others. His comment during the campaign about bitter clingers sounds like pure projection.
What if Obama really did become the leader of China? Would he actually find the job easier than his present one?
If Obama suddenly became leader of China, with all of Hu Jintao’s powers, I feel certain that he would reduce that country to utter chaos within 5 years. China has many problems of which Obama, with his focus on surface appearances, is probably unaware (see for instance this post)…in addition, China lacks much of the wealth, positive institutional inertia and strength of civil society from which the US benefits (and which will hopefully allow us to survive Obama’s leadership for a few years). While China’s economy is not nearly as centralized as it once was, the government does play a more directive role than it does in the US, which means it has more opportunity to very rapidly screw things up. This kind of system also puts more stress on the man at the helm, an important consideration for “leaders” who are highly focused on reducing their own stress levels and maximizing their golfing time.
Things like the “green energy” obsession and ethanol subsidies can be endured by a rich country, at least for a limited period of time. Obama’s methods in China would result in widespread starvation and civil war, and I don’t think it would take very long.
Nor would an Obama regime in China be likely to do anything to improve the status of democracy and civil liberties in that country…Obama has shown minimal interest in support for democratization abroad, and at home his orientation toward centralized control of all aspects of life is quite clear, as is his tolerance for intimidation tactics such as those engaged in by the New Black Panther Party in the Philadelphia voter-intimidation case and by various union-affiliated thugs in the recent Wisconsin events.
No, Mr Obama, you would not find Hu Jintao’s job easier than your present one. But your assumption of that position would be even harder on the people of China than it would on you.