President Obama’s Middle East foreign policy started in Cairo, when the naive future Nobel Peace Prize winner thought he was adored by the world and that he could spread his simpleton vision of harmony across the globe. It ended with brutal attacks and a murderous rampage on U.S. diplomats in Libya.
Unfortunately, foreign policy doesn’t drive many votes. There won’t be much reflection on how Obama’s need for on-the-job training got us to this sorry point.
The tragedy in Libya serves Obama’s political interests in a couple of ways. First, it’s a distraction from the economic issues that most Americans care about. The Obama campaign is all about creating, looking for and hoping for distractions. If the election is about Obama’s stewardship of the American economy, he could very well lose; if it’s about something else, he could very well win.
Second, this is a distraction that will allow Obama to shine. He can step back from the campaign, spend time with foreign leaders, show great resolve toward punishing American enemies and show great sympathy for the public servants and their families who have suffered at the hands of terrorists. It’s mostly about style points, and the president has all the props and the legitimate authority to use them. Conversely, Mitt Romney doesn’t have any of the tools, and he hasn’t yet shown the skills to extract style points, regardless of the setting or the circumstance.
As I mentioned yesterday, the president will look big, while Romney will look small.
It’s too bad for Romney that there won’t be much of a reconciliation between the failure of the president’s policies and the boiling dangers the United States now faces in the Middle East, where we appear helpless as allies fall, Islamists rise, anarchy spreads and forces build against us.
Someday, there will be a book written called “The Education of Barack Obama,” and the consequences of the diminishment of the United States’ stature in the Middle East under Obama’s watch will be one of the opening chapters. It’s ironic that this turn of events and the way politics is covered by the media, combined with Romney’s mishandling of the situation, could present Obama with an opportunity for flattering poses from on top of the wreckage that the past 3 1/2 years of his policies, ego and arrogance have produced.