Another Tack: It’s only a paper moon

The near loathing demonstrated by Obama toward Netanyahu last time around wasn’t miraculously replaced overnight by a magnificent meeting of the minds.

311_Paper Moon (photo credit: Paper Moon (1973).)
311_Paper Moon
(photo credit: Paper Moon (1973).)
You just gotta feel for poor Barack Obama, so misunderstood, so misquoted, so taken out of context. And it so keeps on happening. Over and over. It almost smacks of a malicious design to misrepresent. Take the latest instance, for instance.
There was Obama’s own hand-picked (first African- American) NASA administrator, Charles Bolden, telling Al Jazeera that Obama himself stressed to him that henceforth NASA’s principal goals are to encourage children to learn math and science, expand international relationships and “foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science... and math and engineering.”
Here we ought to remind ourselves that NASA is the acronym for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, lumbered with such mundane uninspiring chores as space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research. Obama is evidently out to alter emphases. But when Bolden spelled it out, White House and NASA spokespersons rushed to explain that nothing is exactly what it seems. Improving relations with Muslim countries, they averred, is NASA’s mission, though it needn’t be counted as its “foremost responsibility.” Appearances plainly supersede substance. No fault is found with the fact that “outreach to Muslims” at all features on NASA’s to-do list, as long as it’s not perceived as the top item on said list.
Often, as in this case, Obama gets away with skewing the agenda of the world’s sole superpower. His fervent fans acclaim any oddball initiative as sophisticated pluralism and moral-relativist broad-mindedness. For regular folks, the preposterousness Obama promotes is so egregious they cannot imagine any of it is for real.
The reasonable inclination is to brush off assorted Obama administration absurdities as meaningless chatter, overblown nonsense or tendentious reporting. NASA’s outreach to Muslims is readily dismissed as a one-off bit of trivial blandishment meant to make nice and soothe the savage by pretending he’s really a savant.
Except that Bolden didn’t misspeak and his utterance was no one-off. On February 16, the same Bolden told engineering students in Orlando, Florida that Obama specifically instructed him to “find ways to reach out to dominantly Muslim countries.”
THE CONSISTENCY is disquieting. But it doesn’t end here. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect is timing.
The Al Jazeera interview was conducted during Bolden’s Mideast visit to mark the one-year anniversary of Obama’s address to Muslim nations in Cairo.
Obviously not only is Obama not retroactively embarrassed by his fawning performance in Egypt, he considers it a cultural/diplomatic milestone, a momentous historical event whose anniversary is worth hyping via yet more sucking up, this time by a proxy sycophant.
Bottom line: Bolden’s babble wasn’t an inadvertent slipup but deliberate reaffirmation of a basic policy priority. However, since Obama’s pro-Muslim predilections might not be popular with the electorate, it serves his purposes to lull non-Muslims into complacency. Hence Obama’s mouthpieces laugh away Bolden’s interview as much ado about nothing, which shouldn’t be taken seriously at face value. In the words of Yip Harburg’s old 1933 Broadway classic:
“’s only a paper moon Sailing over a cardboard sea But it wouldn’t be make believe If you believed in me.”
Obama indeed demands carte blanche trust. News consumers in the world’s democracies aren’t supposed to dwell on things which clearly aren’t what they look like to the lesser minds of political skeptics, especially those uncool regressive sorts who don’t subscribe or submit to Obamaesque weltanschauung.
Hence, with cynical aforethought, the invariable pattern of pandering to Muslims must occasionally be blurred, belittled and/or altogether expediently denied. The same applies to the reverse side of the distinctly pro-Muslim coin – the unambiguous antipathy to Israel. Sometimes it’s blatantly brandished, especially when Obama seeks to wow the Muslim world – as he did with that Cairo speech, with bowing obsequiously to the Saudi potentate or with sending Bolden to celebrate and amplify the original flattery.
Accordingly, Obama’s aversion to Israel was unmistakable in the merciless protocol abuse heaped on Binyamin Netanyahu during his earlier White House visit last March. Protocol, after all, is by definition etiquette ceremoniously on display to impart an impression. Lack thereof is just as telling.
But while the humiliation of Israel’s top executive may have pleased the Arab world, it might have been a tad excessive ahead of America’s crucial midterm elections.
Therefore, in the worst Obama tradition, the barefaced affront was followed up by disingenuous obfuscation, by – again – asserting that things aren’t what they seem. All and sundry, Israelis included, are required not to rely on their cognition because after all: “’s only a canvas sky Hanging over a muslin tree But it wouldn’t be make believe If you believed in me.”
TO PREEMPT electoral backlash, the stage setting was calculatingly upgraded for Netanyahu’s subsequent July visit. He was even ushered in through the front door this time and offered light refreshment. This time Obama didn’t snub Netanyahu by walking out to have dinner with the family. By way of damage control there were photo-ops, a joint press conference, best friend posturing, a girly Sara and Michelle chitchat and syrupy statements of support for tiny beleaguered Israel, as well as expected lip service for our right to defend ourselves. Whoop-ti-do.
Doubtlessly the saccharine footage will be replayed ad nauseam before Jewish audiences in the run-up to polling day to mitigate possible previous PR harm and win back support from some (presumed non-doctrinaire) Jewish liberals who, maybe, might no longer be as blindingly mesmerized by Obama’s messianic radicalism. Considering Bibi’s obliging cooperation, Barack’s stratagem may pay off.
The near loathing demonstrated by Obama toward Netanyahu last time around wasn’t a negligible lapse of good manners. And it wasn’t miraculously replaced overnight by a magnificent meeting of the minds. Everything remains as it was, but Obama’s aim is to make it seem that the rift never existed or, alternatively, that he healed it phenomenally.
The operative verb is “seem.” No real change had to have taken place, only to appear that it had.
American Jews (those who still care) need to ask themselves whether they aren’t falling for a false façade yet again. Israelis need to focus on what our PM undertook to pay for the window dressing. What concessions that risk our lives and risk our children’s futures were made to win Obama’s ostensible hospitality?
We must not underestimate the importance of these questions. It’s imperative to suspect the sincerity of a president for whom NASA is an agency charged with stroking Muslim egos. Do we entrust our fate to a master-showman who treats this as “...a Barnum and Bailey world
Just as phony as it can be?"
Do we unreservedly put our faith in someone who cloyingly assures us that
“ wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me?"
Do we really want to believe in him?