Now safely back in the White House with another four year term, President Obama is showing how he plans to use some of his time—and it can’t be making Hollywood happy. On being asked about Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’ struggle with cancer, Obama responded by saying, correctly, that “The most important thing is to remember that the future of Venezuela should be in the hands of the Venezuelan people. We’ve seen from Chavez in the past authoritarian policies, suppression of dissent…”
Via Meadia isn’t sure who was more shocked by this forthright Obama attack on the leftist authoritarian: Dinesh D’Souza or Michael Moore. They certainly weren’t happy in Caracas; spitting fury with all the indignation Latin lefties can summon up (and that is a lot of indignation, I can say after some long meetings with top Cuban officials at various points in my past) the Venezuelan government responded with a statement saying that “With these despicable comments at such a delicate moment for Venezuela, the U.S. president is responsible for a major deterioration in bilateral relations, proving the continuity of his policy of aggression and disrespect towards our country[.]”
This is hardly up to North Korean or Iranian standards—nothing here about “hyenas of imperialism” or satans great and small—but it registers about 8.0 on the Richter scale for pique.
One development sure to be hastened by this presidential moment of candor: the “real” left in Hollywood and elsewhere is going to double down on its incipient campaign against Obama. Inhibited in his first term by fear that attacking Obama would open the door to the Republicans, the left is now going to think that its “duty” is to push Obama and the party as far to the left as possible. On every issue where openings arise from entitlement reform to gun control to drone strikes to Iran, the hard left and its loving if clueless cousin the trendy left will now step up the pressure.
On the whole, this will be no bad thing for the President, though some of his staff and allies with their roots in the left will be personally saddened and hurt at the vicious attacks likely to come from their old friends and comrades. It will become fashionable to say wounding things about the President and his entourage in the pages of the New Yorker, the Nation and the New York Review of Books, and at faculty cocktail parties all over the country there will be a default assumption that the administration is too timid and conventional in its thinking—but in this case the intelligentsia’s culture of disdain will likely amount to little more than the chirping of the crickets on a tranquil summer night.
As we’ve said before on this site, President Obama is a New England statist and moralist; brutal and thuggish regimes in Latin America offend him in much the way they offended Woodrow Wilson and Elihu Root. Whatever romantic notions he may have entertained in his youth, he is no sentimental third world socialist who turns left wing wreckers and goons into progressive heroes; he sees them as irritants and nuisances to be ignored if necessary, but swept away if the right opportunity presents.
In his first term, inexperienced in foreign policy, faced with an epochal economic crisis at home and concerned with overcoming the isolation and obloquy that befell the United States during the Bush administration, President Obama did not, as John Quincy Adams would put it, go abroad in search of monsters to destroy — though monsters that aimed at America were another matter. That began to change with his first taste of regime change in Libya; President Obama now sees a world in which American power is resurgent, the worst of the economic crisis is past and in which a critical mass of countries is prepared to support a more activist American stance.
Liberal Americans and conservative Americans are both revolutionary forces in the world. American world power is indissolubly linked to the intensification of a global revolution that has political, economic and social dimensions. In this sense, Barack Obama and George W. Bush—like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, or Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover—both work to extend and to deepen the world transformation that America has promoted from the start.
As we read the tea leaves and the smoke signals in Washington these days, Michael Moore, Sean Penn and Noam Chomsky aren’t going to like Barack Obama’s second term. Neither will Ron Paul.