As someone who has studied, taught, and written about the Middle East for years, I'm the first to concede that President Obama has a tough task. What would I do about Libya if I were president? How about Egypt?
I'm not exactly sure. The situations are complex, with too many daunting unknowns. Chief among them, who, or what, precisely, is behind the opposition? Would a Gaddafi or Mubarak be replaced by Muslim democrats or theocrats, by an Ayatollah, by a Hamas, by a Hamid Karzai, by a Saddam or Sadat, or perhaps by the first Thomas Jefferson in the Arab world?
Of course, my personal struggle with the complexities doesn't matter much. I'm not president. Obama is. And alas, it's here, with Barack Obama as commander-in-chief, that the left once again has failed itself and America in the process.
The left pinned its hopes and dreams on Barack Obama. He wasn't merely another politician, he was post-modern, post-racial, post-cultural, post-political. We were told Obama didn't need political experience. His international upbringing, his multi-national background, his inherent diversity and multiculturalism, his youthful hopping and groping from country to country, culture to culture, faith to faith, through Islam, Buddhism, asceticism, Christianity, Augustine, Aquinas, Graham Greene, Nietzsche, Rev. Wright, and whatever else -- heaped atop his overflowing innate brilliance -- would beget a new breed of political man, a supreme decision-maker worthy of the most vexing challenges. He was no George W. Bush; he was the anti-Bush.
All of this, of course, was twaddle, but it's sadly in keeping with the perverse political-spiritual sentimentality that plagues the left. Liberals have a bizarre tendency to revere their political leaders as geniuses. They did so even with the Clintons and Al Gore. In handy contrast, they reflexively caricature their opponents, irrespective of stature or fact, as stupid. It's a very shallow thing to do, a triumph of emotion over logic; still, they do it incessantly.
Worsening the situation is the hard secularism of today's left. Progressives are more agnostic and atheistic than ever. They tend to search for salvation in politics, which is a god that will always fail. In Obama, many of them hoped for some sort of political messiah, approaching levels of earthly omnipotence not possible by previous presidents.
This brings me back to the Middle East. Now, with great historic moments -- and perhaps opportunities -- afloat in Libya and Egypt, on the heels of Iran in June 2009, watching Obama unable to arrive at a clear sense of understanding, let alone direction or purpose, has liberals flummoxed. They wander in the desert without their Moses, who, in a much anticipated speech on Libya last week, at best muttered something about a humanitarian crisis; how utterly unsatisfying.
Remember, too, it was the Middle East that was supposed to be Obama's strength. He would be better than Bush, and precisely at the right place and time. Far from Barack Hussein Obama's middle name being a liability, liberals assured us it was his saving grace. Their faithful leader would know what to do, in a way that "Bush," Texas rube, was fully incapable.