In the wildly popular NETFLIX series, House of Cards, President Garrett Walker is fraudulently persuaded to invite Francis Underwood as his Vice-President after conveniently dismissing his initial running mate, Jim Matthews. Of course, Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) is the lead-character: a deceitful, villainous politician willing to commit murder twice for power.
But the Garrett Walker character strikes me as a typical Democratic leader, unable to discern good from evil, friend from foe. He anoints the devil incarnate a heartbeat away from the presidency, yet naively doesn’t see what’s coming next – as Frank and his conniving wife, Claire, eventually set the trap for the first couple to face impeachment – requiring a Nixonian-style exodus with the conspirator succeeding to the Oval.
The worst indictment one can make against any sitting President may be framed by these pivotal words, “He didn’t see it coming.” Like 1938’s Neville Chamberlain sitting down in Munich with Adolf Hitler, there’s no excuse for gullibility when surrounded by the best intelligence services on the planet. Surely British secret service saw it coming, but why didn’t its Prime Minister? (Or did he? Ignoring reality for baseless hope is insanity.)
The same applies to the current President. Vladimir Putin’s forces are poised to not only invade the whole of Ukraine, but to annex it into the reborn Russian Empire, and ironically he’s employing the same textbook pretexts as his Nazi predecessor nearly eight decades before: Inflame nationals, then invade in the guise of protecting Russian ethnics against the straw enemy, the toothless Ukrainian forces.
Despite clear signals from Putin over several years, President Obama didn’t see it coming. The world’s theoretically best intelligence either failed to forewarn of impending disaster, or Obama ignored the info or perhaps placed it on the back burner until too late – in hope that a better outcome would miraculously transpire.
If this is a unique pattern, the benefit of a doubt could be granted. But what of the other major misreadings? After Newtown, 90% of Americans expected at least some form of practical background checks for gun purchases, which the administration promised without fail. But as before, Obama didn’t see it coming. The NRA and Republicans sabotaged the effort. Politically savvy Americans saw it coming and warned Obama-Biden to act quickly. Instead, a delayed process was chosen, and the rest is history.
For most of his terms in office, Obama acted on a distorted view of enemies, both foreign and domestic. In this vein, Russians and Republicans find themselves strangely on the same page.
Obama’s first test was to deal with the opposing party, but he suffered from a foundational misperception, a debilitating myopia. Republicans (unlike Frederik Willem de Klerk and the Afrikaner-apartheid minority cooperating with the newly elected Nelson Mandela), were and are far more entrenched in their southern traditions and world-views. Therefore, they were unwilling to accept the election results, much less the history-breaking figure of Barack Obama residing in the White House.
The Republicans were incensed that an African-American ascended to the highest office in the land and hence were determined to crush his legitimacy. The 2008 and 2012 results were nothing to sneeze at [by any stretch of America’s past]. But Obama’s overwhelming back-to-back-victories were dismissed in their minds. From Day One they organized to drive him from power no matter the money or method – through obstruction or igniting their most ill-informed followers to cuddle falsehoods, fears and hatred – from his birth records to ACORN to religion – guns, God, gays.
It became “Lies-all-the-time,” and now Americans are conditioned to expect such constant drivel from the right. The never-ending, everlasting campaign (as Karl Rove envisioned) is now as American as Mom and apple pie. Barack Obama can’t even fart unless Republicans make a scandal out of it.
As one looks back, Obama didn’t see it coming – or else he would have responded in kind and performed accordingly. He acted surprised when Republicans rebuffed his more-than-generous overtures. Obama offered them the jewels of Democratic crown achievements, some dating back to the New Deal, but still they spurned his compromises / capitulations.
If Frank Underwood (lead-character, House of Cards) would have been Barack Obama’s Vice-President, he’d been impeached faster than Garrett Walker for baseless charges. If, after the fall election the Senate is lost, Obama could indeed face such. It’s not only probable, but a promise from leading Republicans. Does Obama not see this coming?
Surely, after years of seamless past practice, Obama should have seen through Republican / Tea Party intrigues. But not until recently have his eyelids been partially lifted, but too late to salvage his premature lame-duck slide.
Now, unfortunately, it seems this pattern carries over into Russian-American relations. What will Barack Obama offer at the peace table with Vladimir Putin to ease tensions in Europe? The entirety of Ukraine for the empty promise of not invading Poland, aka Munich Agreement 1938?
At stake is not only Crimea and the Ukraine, but Syria, Iran and the entire Middle East (since Israel feels threatened from all sides and trusts no one even in the best of times). Russia is the primary player in all this and will not hesitate to exert leverage should the West punish further. With Russia on the “foe list,” gone are Iranian negotiations and any hope of Syrian peace. Gone is our astronaut piggy-back program to the International Space Station. And gone is any hope that Israel will restrain itself from taking out Iranian nuclear facilities. (Who didn’t see this coming?)
If Obama can’t read Republicans, he surely can’t read Russians.
Although I was and am a devoted supporter of Barack Obama, I see his blemishes along with his strong suits. My only wish is that reality would finally sink in on our President so we won’t lose on another front – such as a reignited Cold War, or worse, a full-blown hot one where the participating parties / nations finally get in the ring to duke it out, another parallel to Hitler’s menace (except this time ending in nuclear holocaust).
It all depends on the leader of the Free World opening wide his eyes. Is that possible?