Even by our appalling standards, our press hit a new low yesterday with a piece by Greg Sheridan headed ‘Obama delivers last-minute hit to democracy.’
Barack Obama’s presidency is ending with a fine contempt for democracy as he exhibits every trait of hubris, arrogance and disregard for the messy business of elections and democratic mandates in his efforts to tie the hands of his successor on policy that Obama was never willing to take to the electorate, or put before congress.
On two contentious issues – Israeli settlements and off-shore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean and the Artic – Obama is taking actions directly gainst the spirit and practice of democracy by using bureaucratic and legal manouevres to try to put policy decisions beyond democratic revision. Obama chose to wait until after the presidential election to take these steps. Obama, with Hillary Clinton, was always the best advertisement for Donald Trump, even more so now, for Obama, at the extreme end of lame duckery, demonstrates a peerless elite disregard for democratic process and the messy and inconvenient business of electoral results.
It is Obama, and not Trump, who pioneered American weakness and retreat from leadership……
Let’s be quite clear about this. Obama, with extreme irresponsibility, is licensing a new wave of global anti-Semitism. And he knows exactly what he is doing….
Obama cannot leave office a day too soon, though God alone knows what other harm he might accomplish before January 20.
What evil demon could have caused all this foul bile? What could cause a newspaper with some pretence to liberal values to look forward to a man of intellect and integrity being succeeded as the President of the United States by a lying bully who prefers the word of a former KGB operative to that of the CIA and who sets out to spook the world by tweeting about his nuclear ambitions?
It is hard off hand to see what is anti-democratic about a democratically elected President instructing his UN Ambassador not to veto a UN resolution that expresses the views of a majority of the UN and that is consistent, as the Ambassador said, with warnings given by the President to Mr Netanyahu, both in public and in private, over eight years. The President’s view is that the attitude of the Israeli government to settlements is not consistent with their preferred two state solution. It is not hard to see how the President came to that view. As one Israeli commentator (in Haaretz) said:
The U.S. warned Netanyahu for eight years that his policy would have a price, but he preferred pacifying the settler lobby instead of making a plan of action. He has only himself to blame.
Well, I suppose that if you were of a casuistic caste of mind, you could argue about this. You may want to choose a different advocate to Mr Netanyahu – his intervention on behalf of Trump against the Democrats was even more blatant and improper than that of Mr Putin – and he has now changed from a lying bully to a little boy playing with matches – who thinks it is a good idea to deny the Sermon the Mount before his Christian godfather.
But what you cannot argue is that this failure to veto a UN resolution means that Mr Obama is consciously licensing ‘a new wave of global anti-Semitism’. It is not just that the proposition is an obvious non sequitur. It is not just that this is an infamous lie. It is both of those things. It is that this intolerant lashing out at a contrary opinion with group labels of hate is precisely the kind of pathology of the mind that is ruining public life, and yielding up false leaders like Trump. It is hard to imagine a more insidious and inflammatory lie than that which says that if you oppose the government of Israel, you despise Jews.
Truth no longer matters now; only venom counts.
Poet of the Month: Vergil
So all things are fated
to slide towards the worst, and revert by slipping back:
just as if one who can hardly drive his boat with oars
against the stream, should slacken his arms,
and the channel sweep it away downstream.