Newsweek throws Obama under the bus

The Newsweek cover for next week is astonishing.

The lead article is by Niall Ferguson and is devastating. The fact that it is the cover story is an even bigger surprise. It’s interesting to speculate on the reasons.

Welcome to Obama’s America: nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return—almost exactly the same proportion that lives in a household where at least one member receives some type of government benefit. We are becoming the 50–50 nation—half of us paying the taxes, the other half receiving the benefits.

On foreign policy, one of Obama’s few strong points in polls, it is even harsher.

For me the president’s greatest failure has been not to think through the implications of these challenges to American power. Far from developing a coherent strategy, he believed—perhaps encouraged by the premature award of the Nobel Peace Prize—that all he needed to do was to make touchy-feely speeches around the world explaining to foreigners that he was not George W. Bush.

In Tokyo in November 2009, the president gave his boilerplate hug-a-foreigner speech: “In an interconnected world, power does not need to be a zero-sum game, and nations need not fear the success of another … The United States does not seek to contain China … On the contrary, the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations.” Yet by fall 2011, this approach had been jettisoned in favor of a “pivot” back to the Pacific, including risible deployments of troops to Australia and Singapore. From the vantage point of Beijing, neither approach had credibility.

His Cairo speech of June 4, 2009, was an especially clumsy bid to ingratiate himself on what proved to be the eve of a regional revolution. “I’m also proud to carry with me,” he told Egyptians, “a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: Assalamu alaikum … I’ve come here … to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based … upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.”

Read the whole thing, as Instapundit says.

12 thoughts on “Newsweek throws Obama under the bus”

  1. I did – (read the whole thing) and I wonder if Niall Ferguson is all that much an expert on the American character and zeitgeist … All I see is one precious credentialed and anointed butterfly of the established media daring to flit to another flower … but still. On the cover of Newsweek? One last vain attempt to pull out of the death spiral that their Obama-worship has put them in, perhaps.
    Even mainstream media employees gotta pull down a paycheck … for the next few months, anyway.

  2. Ferguson was a McCain adviser and is pretty well regarded as a historian. In fact, he should be an Obama fan by his background. Still, the big story is the story and the cover. Now, it will be interesting to see the next shoe drop, if one does.

  3. Actually, I’ve spent the weekend with his Civilization. I’d e-mailed a friend that the book has the flaws and virtues of what had seemed in grad school a British tradition – the author confidently asserts preferences as given, hints at others’ work but has minimal referencing and footnoting; he makes broad sweeps that would take – it seems to me – immense confidence or a few beers before a late night argument over literature. (I’d remarked on this once to my husband’s Gypsy friend, who snorted, yeah, that’s the Old Boys’ Club – his relation with the London in which he grew up is pretty much love/hate.)

    But if Ferguson seems stretched thin & manic (big books every couple of years, teaching on both sides of the Atlantic, television series to accompany the books) it is magpie minds like that that make us look at the bigger picture. For instance, we know but often forget that wars and imperialism were hot houses for advances in medicine, that simple competition is central to open markets (of goods, religion, ideas). I started his Colossus and never got into it, but my sense was that his argument was that America wan’t a sufficiently imperial nation and more’s the pity. One of his heroes is Burke. I haven’t read Newsweek in decades and he likes/is good at the kind of hyper, charismatic, simplified & quirky that magazines like that like.

    I don’t know what for sure what the last plate refers to (only about halfway through the book) in the text, but I’d already taken its title – “The end of Western predominance: President Barak Obama bows to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, November 2009” – as sarcastic. That may just be my perspective, but it is also that of McCain supporter and that of this Newsweek essay,

    Anyone who marries Ayaan Hirsi and concludes his Preface, commentig on his dedication to her: “to someone who understands better than anyone I know what Western civilization really means – and what it still has to offer the world” is probably not a big fan of Bill Ayers, Critical Race Theory, or Sharia Law.

    Oh, he is not American – he doesn’t use the vocabulary that I think most of us on here would in talking about these issues. But he seems to end up with a real reverence for property rights and natural law, for competition and the open marketplace, etc.
    He admires America and apparently made a real choice to move here and become one of us. That’s not unattractive, even if it may be another sign of a man with his eye on the main chance. I personally like it that he considered us that chance.

  4. Ginny, I reread James Clavell’s “Noble House” this weekend. It is a huge book and I was glad to get finished but I like the British POV on American issues. I have written reviews of Conrad Black’s books on FDR and Nixon. The Nixon book was the so far on the subject in my opinion.

    Paul Johnson’s books have the same broad view with few references on American history. His “History of the Jews” is his best IMHO.

  5. Thanks for the tips – I actually ordered yours and Sgt. Mom’s books but classes start tomorrow so probably it will be Christmas before I get much read. I hope it came through that I really enjoyed Ferguson – those huge generalizations come from breadth and are just fun to think about. The apps thing, though, is a little too cute I think. And he knows a lot even if he also asserts a lot,

  6. @Ginny – I just got Sgt Mom’s first book in the trilogy – figured she had been nice enough to answer all my Texas questions least I can do is buy a book!

  7. He organizes it as 6 “applications” that the West has downloaded and others need to if they want to succeed. His categories are competition, science, property, medicine, consumption and work. Maybe I’m simplifying or misrepresenting, but it seems essentially open marketplace, scientific method, rule of law, practical applicaton of science spurred by war and imperialism, world trade (open marketplace within and among might be another way of putting it), and a purposeful work ethic. Less cutting edge than his vocabulary & analogy appear (remember he really likes Burke) but pulling together a lot.

  8. Thanks Bill and Ginny – my royalty statements thank you too! If you like ’em, tell all your friends! Seriously – my marketing strategy for my books depends on word of mouth, friends telling friends about them. Supposedly this is a sure and steady, but rather slow process! ;-)

  9. Sgt – I love historical novels where all the background is true – just insert some fictional characters in to live in the history! So I will start reading about these German-Texans

  10. This is an article by a disingenuous and reckless writer posted in a dying magazine in an attempt to gin up circulation. Nothing more than that.

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