Testing Obama's Mettle

North Korea is about to test what is most likely a ballistic missile, while claiming it is a satellite for peaceful purposes. At the same time they claim any attempt to intercept the missile will be an act of war for which there will be aggressive retaliation. This is just the loudest saber rattling in a new round of tyrant’s tests of a young administration.

We also see from the Jerusalem Post a report that Iran has "crossed a nuclear threshold" in its quest for the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon. Whatever joy that may give fawning ethicists, fretting over the fairness of keeping nation states out of the nuclear fraternity, it can hardly be seen as a good sign for those who wish to limit the spread of real nuclear fallout in the world. Some reports further claim Iran will use talks promised by the Obama administration to buy time for the completion of a weapon.

At the same time China is harassing U.S. Navy ships in the South China Sea. Even as these threats fester in the atmosphere of a possibly lax new administration we are seeing the price of the laxity of the prior administration, and new types of threats to any nation's sovereignty. Mexican drug cartels, which are a terrible destabilizing influence in our neighbors to the south, are setting up shop in the United States.

What else should we be concerned about? A new round of protectionist ardor, not unlike that that swept the world in the early stages of the Great Depression, has begun to raise its ugly head in the U.S. So far the president has been wise enough to resist that temptation being expressed within his own party. On the other hand, his stance on Iraq has always been one of weakness, as he declared numerous times the conflict there was lost. Now the insurgency will work hard to give him the chance to lose for real.

Obama's pressure on the Swiss Government to violate their own laws concerning banking regulations has raised questions about his sincerity in campaign promises to be more respectful of foreign governments than his predecessor. This is not irrelevant to military threats when the president is reaching out to Europe for help with the Afgan situation.

Our worry early on with Obama was that his experience was thin, particularly in the area of international conflict. His answer to this, in interviews, was pointing out that he had "lived overseas" (as though John McCain had not) and his "major was in International Relations". That is, to anyone who has made a profession of the field in which their undergraduate work was concentrated, an answer that is at least as unnerving as it is enlightening, especially coming from the mouth of one who did not make a career of his undergraduate field. Does no one remember that George W. Bush's undergraduate degree was in History?

Recalling incidents in which foreign adversaries tested previous new administrations (China interdicting intelligence flights in 2001, terrorists attacking the World Trade center in 1993, etc.) it is easy to anticipate these challenges. Will the administration's early focus on the economy cause us to make the kind of mistakes that eventually led us in the 1930s from mere depression to the catastrophe of W.W.II?

If he's intimidated by a so-called power like North Korea or Iran, or even a REAL power like China, that could remain an open question.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at March 10, 2009 11:11 AM
Comments
Comment #277334

Frankly, Obama doesn’t care about these things, Lee, his focus is on ‘Transforming America’ into the paradise he knows it should be. It fits so well into the punish America for it’s capitalism meme that I have to assume that is half his motivation as well.

Look at the total snub that Brown got when visiting. Obama wants to talk to the Taliban for pete’s sake, he will talk to Iran and North Korea and everything will be ok because he is the ‘one’.

Posted by: eric simonson at March 10, 2009 7:39 PM
Comment #277336

Lee -

Surprisingly, you’re the first writer I’ve seen tie the possibility of repeating the 1930’s to the possibility of also repeating the 1940’s. It is, I think, instructive.

It’s unlikely Naziism would have gained sway in Germany without a worldwide depression; it’s also unlikely the allies would have been so unconcerned about Fascism. It is well that we learn the lessons of the past; the World War was many times more destructive than the Depression that may have allowed it to occur.

Posted by: Chops at March 10, 2009 8:03 PM
Comment #277338

Chops,

That would be a surprise to me as well. In the seeming crisis of the Depression it was easy to lose track of more fundamental priorities, giving credit to Hitler for getting the German economy rolling while failing to be alarmed at hideous abuses of civil rights (Can you say “China” or “Russia”?) for example. That requires more than a little taking of things for granted.

The desire for human freedom is natural. Human freedom itself, though, is not. Tyrrany is historically far more common than liberty. In the midst of what feels like bad times we humans will often lapse into disaster in the quest for authoritative promises of analgesia.

I’ve said several times I think we in America have an 80 year cycle for these disasters, and that they follow a pattern. Letting the world fall apart because we’re focused on the wrong things is part of the pattern.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 10, 2009 8:45 PM
Comment #277345

Lee
It would be surprising indeed if theres not a period of international testing involving a new American administration. Even darker is the prospect that the global depression will lead to some unfortunate political developements. Of course that depends on ones point of view. The ascension of Hitler was looked as as a positive by the American right at the time.
Some of the areas of concern you mention are hardly that. If Madoff has a few billion hidden in Swiss banks wouldn’t it be nice to get it back?Its also pretty amuzing that the whole protectionist-globalization debate dissapears when it comes to protecting US crime families from incursions of Mexican crime families.
There are indeed some disturbing events. The BHO administration has taken it as a article of faith,it appears, that Iran is developing a nuclear weapons capability. There is still no evidence. Isreal is NOT a credible source in that regard. If they have evidence,show it. Smells of Saddam’s WMDs.
Increased cooperation with Russia is another positive. The world can little afford the resurgence of the Cold War promoted by the Bush regime at the apparent behest of the MIC.
Altogether, not doing something reactive or stupid in regard to international challeges is a positive.Constraints on precipitious action is a strenght, not a weakness. Get used to it.

Posted by: bills at March 10, 2009 10:23 PM
Comment #277347

Lee Jamison-
I think the trouble is, you’re thinking too much in terms of the pursuit and slaying of dragons for all to see. I’m sure Obama and his people have folks on it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 10, 2009 11:31 PM
Comment #277365
I’m sure Obama and his people have folks on it.

Because…? Sounds like blind faith to me.

You are free to have it. That doesn’t mean it is either true or others should have it as well.

There are a lot of things going on that cause me pause with this administration regarding international policies. You can continue to have partisan blinders on if you want, as you have accused the right of having for the past 8 years, but I will not follow that path.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 11, 2009 3:43 AM
Comment #277375

Lee, the U.S.’s position on the Swiss laws is that they violate international laws regarding disclosure of names of those potentially violating other nation’s laws. GW Bush tested our ability to violate international laws and treaties with domestic ones, and it has been roundly repudiated by the American people as well as the international community. The Swiss don’t have a logical leg to stand on.

As for those who would diss Obama’s reliance upon Gates, and our intelligence community and Pentagon, and military leadership, do they not realize they are dissing all those upon whom Obama is relying as well? Is that very patriotic to diss our national defense personnel now that Obama is their Commander in Chief. Oh, how hollow a patriotism is that?

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 11, 2009 8:01 AM
Comment #277376

Look folks, just because GW Bush couldn’t dance and hold a cogent thought in his head at the same time, doesn’t mean Obama can’t multi-task using the vast resources supporting his need for the latest and most relevant information on any particular issue.

Obama’s multi-tasking capacity obviously is incredible to many Republicans whose single tasking Rush indoctrinated partisan focus on any issue is the limit of their experience. Obvious due to so many prominent Republicans incredulity over Obama taking on so many national issues at one time.

But, you know, a president dealing with multiple issues at one time is what is required and what our great presidents cut their presidential teeth on. I know these Republicans got used to the Elmer Fudd one thing at a time pace of GW Bush, but, really, they will just have to learn to keep up or be left irrelevantly behind.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 11, 2009 8:09 AM
Comment #277380

David,

Lee, the U.S.’s position on the Swiss laws is that they violate international laws regarding disclosure of names of those potentially violating other nation’s laws.
What other attitudes of the Swiss might RETROACTIVELY violate international laws, and what might such a position say about our own national sovereignty in a world where the zeitgeist sometimes appears to have earned the power of fiat? For example, here is an interesting sentance from the Wikipedia article on Switzerland-
The Swiss have also been under EU and sometimes international pressure to reduce banking secrecy and to raise tax rates to parity with the European Union.
To “RAISE TAXES”? Could that be because European countries don’t like a marketplace in which contrast exposes their weaknesses to evolutionary forces?

Here’s a solution to the world’s problems: Make a sovereign nation’s laws, long since decided by that nation’s people, illegal under international law. Slowly you’ll force everyone everywhere to conform to the way the world thinks we ALL should be- one uniform shade of BIG BROTHER gray.

The E.U. doesn’t approve of the Swiss owning their own personal weapons, either. How soon will THAT be retroactively against international law, David?

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 11, 2009 11:17 AM
Comment #277382

Lee,

“That would be a surprise to me as well. In the seeming crisis of the Depression it was easy to lose track of more fundamental priorities, giving credit to Hitler for getting the German economy rolling while failing to be alarmed at hideous abuses of civil rights (Can you say “China” or “Russia”?) for example. That requires more than a little taking of things for granted.”

Not to trivialize the human rights abuses, but the more disturbing aspect was ignoring Hitler’s total disregard for the treaties Germany signed in regards to the rebuilding of Germany’s military.
Had that been nipped in the bud, WW2 may not have happened at all, along with the civil rights abuses.

Eric,
As you were among the outspoken Bush policy apologist/cheerleaders here at watchblog you seem to be making vast assumptions based on half-vast partisan opinion.
Please feel free to give us the actual facts on which you base these assumptions/opinions, or perhaps we should just write them off as mere rant.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 11, 2009 11:42 AM
Comment #277385

bills,

If Madoff has a few billion hidden in Swiss banks wouldn’t it be nice to get it back?Its also pretty amuzing that the whole protectionist-globalization debate dissapears when it comes to protecting US crime families from incursions of Mexican crime families.
The Swiss part is answered above, but the Mexican part is substantially different. President Bush was intentionally lax in his treatemnt of our southern border. His administration was savage in its treatment of our own border guards, and routinely found ways to hamper law enforcement efforts of local agencies. For example, the longstanding policy of allowing local agencies to keep properties siezed from drug arrests and sell it to provide funds for enforcement was ended.

It almost seemed that the Bush Administration was actively protecting organized crime specifically in brutally corrupt, drug soaked, tyrant-ridden Mexico.

That is a damn sight different than respecting the legitmate national sovereignty of a 700 year-old democracy.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 11, 2009 11:52 AM
Comment #277386

Lee,

Thanks for a non-partisan answer about Bush’s handling of Mexico. I was surprised by the even handedness of that.

I am bothered by the Swiss protection of banking fraud and tax evasion, but it is hardly a new position on their part, and has served them rather well thru WWII. If I were Swiss, I might be a bit defensive of these laws.

Posted by: gergle at March 11, 2009 12:09 PM
Comment #277387

Rocky,

It is more than a little difficult to find anything we, or any other nation, did right in regards to Germany after W.W.I. It is not utterly irrational to have thought the buildup of the military was a part of rebuilding an economy and a spirit of national pride, at least not all by itself. But we were also seeing context that should have scared the hell out of us!

Arbitrarily eliminating all Jews from employment in any government position should have been shocking, a deep international scandal, especially when it ensnared people like Albert Einstein, who was easily the most famous person in the world.

So, where are we buying economic salve ground out of unprotected peoples? China, Russia, Saudi Arabia…

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 11, 2009 12:12 PM
Comment #277388

Rhinehold-
I judged Bush’s foreign policy on what’s happened under his watch. I’m sure I might have something to criticize about Obama’s policy before it’s all over. I’m just not looking for nits to pick like some are.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 11, 2009 12:13 PM
Comment #277389

Lee,

Swiss banks seemed all too willing to ignore the WW2 human rights abuses when they accepted the fortunes taken from those subject to the abuses.

Perhaps a compromise might be reached in order to define just how much was deposited by criminals here in America.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 11, 2009 12:15 PM
Comment #277390

Rocky,

I’m not suggesting no changes are needed in Swiss banking policy. We simply should respect that the Swiss should come up with changes on their own, as a sovereign nation acting in their own best interest. We should not force them into violating their own laws, but should convince them to make legitimate changes to those laws.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 11, 2009 12:23 PM
Comment #277396

Lee,

“It is not utterly irrational to have thought the buildup of the military was a part of rebuilding an economy and a spirit of national pride, at least not all by itself.”

It was irrational in that Hitler was defying specifically worded treaties that were designed to keep Germany from being a threat to the well being of the other countries in Europe.
We had just been through the “War to end all wars” and mainland Europe had been devastated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Versailles#Violations

“In 1932 the German government announced it would no longer adhere to the treaty’s military limitations, citing the Allies’ violation of the treaty by failing to initiate military limitations on themselves as called for in the preamble of Part V of the Treaty of Versailles.”

Again, not to trivialize the abuses that may have been occurring in Germany before 1932, “Crystal Night” didn’t take place until April 1, 1933.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 11, 2009 12:43 PM
Comment #277397

Lee,

“We should not force them into violating their own laws, but should convince them to make legitimate changes to those laws.”

Agreed.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 11, 2009 12:44 PM
Comment #277399

Rocky,
Hitler was not appointed Chancellor until January of 1933. The Exclusionary Laws were not in force until July. I don’t remember the context of a 1932 military announcement, but I always take Wikipedia with a grain of salt.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 11, 2009 12:52 PM
Comment #277402

Lee,

The treaty was broken as early as 1919 when Germany retained their military leadership, which as a part of the treaty was to be disbanded.

http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/versailles159-213.htm

“The Great German General Staff and all similar organisations shall be dissolved and may not be reconstituted in any form.”

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 11, 2009 1:01 PM
Comment #277405

Remer writes; “Obama’s multi-tasking capacity obviously is incredible to many…”

The desire to take on many tasks is not incredible, it would be the successful completion that would be incredible. And that won’t be known for some time to come.

Recently PO slapped our British friends and hurled them an insult by returning the statue of Churchill which was given to the US shortly after 911 as a reminder of how that great PM led a nation in despair and confusion to eventual victory over the enemies of all mankind. I simply can’t fathom the reason for such a blatantly needless, senseless, harmful, and belligerent act. Can Remer or someone else please explain why this might have been done?

Was this an original PO idea or that of some British hating staff moron? Was it to curry favor with some group or other that by doing this it would show our contempt for our British friends and thus engender favor with someone else? I have heard from some un-named staffer that PO is just tired and made a mistake.

It that’s true, it hardly bodes well for this so-called multi-tasker who is so preoccupied running around trying to change America that he forgets simple diplomacy and courtesy with perhaps the best friend we have.

I would also like to share a few thoughts on the economy. Yesterday, upon the announcement by Citibank that they were turning a profit so far in 2009 the market responded with a 300+ up day on the Dow. I find it curious that with all the jawboning and congressional spending with PO’s support the markets continue to slump. Now, with a major bank showing a profit…the market leaps with joy.

If we consider that the major equity markets are comprised of millions of folks making a financial decision, and those decisions make the market rise or fall, then confidence comes from business making a profit and not from government profligate promises of spending.

That there are trillions of private investment dollars, here and around the world, sitting on the sidelines waiting to be invested can hardly be denied. We are told that only government is willing to invest at this time and thus the need for these huge spending programs.

Suppose we approach this from a different viewpoint and ask that government create conditions that lead to confidence that in turn lead to private money being invested again? I believe all would agree that the average investor is not happy earning 2% or 3% in government bonds or bank CD’s or money market accounts or zero percent with cash stuffed into bank safety deposit boxes or under a mattress.

Instead of huge government spending which has obviously not created that confidence among those who have money to invest, would a government wide austerity program work? Combine that with tax incentives to invest and I believe confidence would be restored.

When a government proposes new taxes on investment, when a government removes huge amounts of money from the private sector, when a government endorses a huge new government entitlement program, and when government bails out failures, is that really a confidence restorative?

Posted by: Jim M at March 11, 2009 1:37 PM
Comment #277419

Thomas Friedman writing in the Op-Ed column in today’s NY Times writes;

“All this will require leadership of the highest order — bold decisions, persistence and persuasion. There is a huge amount of money on the sidelines eager to bet again on America. But right now, there is too much uncertainty; no one knows what will be the new rules governing investments in our biggest financial institutions. If President Obama can produce and sell that plan, private investors, big and small, will give us a stimulus like you’ve never seen.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/opinion/11friedman.html?th&emc=th

Posted by: Jim M at March 11, 2009 2:54 PM
Comment #277442

Jim M, Friedman is probably right on this, except for his flamboyant exaggeration, “will give us a stimulus like you’ve never seen.” The tech bubble was one heckuva stimulus, as was the stock market rise before the crash in 1929.

But, his point will likely be proved true.

The uncertainty is a result of an instantaneous answer and plan to the highly complex and deeply troubling crises the Obama administration inherited. The Wall St. crowd would do well to take a deep breath, exercise a bit of patience, and allow the Obama administration a bit of time to get it right, as opposed to getting it hasty and half right.

I am fascinated by the contradiction of Wall St. folks both anticipating government solutions on the one hand, while fearing government intervention on the other. Wall Street has developed a clear case of split personality of late. If they don’t find a cure, we may have to rename Wall St. to Janus St.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 11, 2009 4:47 PM
Comment #277443

Jim M asked: “Can Remer or someone else please explain why this might have been done?”

Not me. I have not informed myself of the details surrounding this action. Churchill however, was a screw up before becoming a hero, by his own words and admission. He was thrown out of government, and worked his way back in, and having learned from the experience and his errors, went on to become the right person at the right time in history.

One of his major screw ups was in deferring to the rise of Hitler in Germany in the first place. Churchill actually thought Hitler was a great leader before changing his mind some years later.

I doubt any or this history had anything to do with Obama’s action, however. Frankly however, it is not important enough to warrant my time to research. We have bigger issues to deal with. GB is not going to war with the U.S. over this incident regardless of Obama’s reasons. Just fodder for the anti-Obama crowd, most likely.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 11, 2009 4:53 PM
Comment #277445

Jim M said: “I find it curious that with all the jawboning and congressional spending with PO’s support the markets continue to slump. Now, with a major bank showing a profit…the market leaps with joy.”

You are cherry picking the reasons for the uptick in the markets yesterday, carefully avoiding reasons which don’t support your hypothesis, like the market being way over sold, the Wall St. crowd favoring what they were hearing from Geithner about toxic debt on balance sheets, and an anticipated bear market rally, and Bernanke’s comments yesterday that the recession will likely end this year, not next.

It is good to take in ALL relevant information and accounting for it, before exposing one’s partisan stance with such a limited and contrived set of information.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 11, 2009 5:00 PM
Comment #277448

Jim M, there is a bit of a gulf between your beliefs on the markets and the body of knowledge on economics.

Tax cuts will not stimulate jobs from employers when they are laying off due to lack of consumer demand. And Wall St. investor confidence is a wholly different animal than business owner and leader confidence, which is different again from consumer confidence. They do however, at this moment in time, share a core issue which needs to be resolved before confidence can be restored.

That is what to do with trillions of assets on financial corporation books whose value cannot be determined and for which there is no financing available even if a market for these assets could be generated and a value affixed.

And let’s be clear here. Corporate America does not have an answer. Wall St. investors hold diametrically opposed views on the issue. And Consumers haven’t a clue what the hell I am talking about. The Obama administration is devising an answer and a plan to help relieve these corporations of those valueless assets so that they may return to the business of lending for a profit again.

In other words, I wouldn’t be too quick to smack down the only people with the power to remedy this situation, before they have even provided the plan to remedy the situation. BTW, look for a rally when Geither does reveal the details of this plan. Wall St. may not like the details, but they will love having a plan to solve the valueless asset liabilities issue.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 11, 2009 5:12 PM
Comment #277463

Remer wrote; “One of his (Churchhill’s) major screw ups was in deferring to the rise of Hitler in Germany in the first place. Churchill actually thought Hitler was a great leader before changing his mind some years later.

Wow…what revisionist history Remer is spinning here. I am reading Churchill’s 6-book collection of memories of WWII and have already finished reading the lead-up to that war and Churchill’s constant warning in public of the danger of Hitler and the world’s unpreparedness for this maniac and his demented followers. I could scan into an email the many letters he wrote in private and public and speeches he gave warning about Hitler in the mid and late 30’s.

Posted by: Jim M at March 11, 2009 6:16 PM
Comment #277464

Remer chastises me by writing; “Jim M, there is a bit of a gulf between your beliefs on the markets and the body of knowledge on economics.” He then goes on to say; “And Consumers haven’t a clue what the hell I am talking about.”

Fact: PO and congress makes it a point to tell us that only government is willing to invest right now.

Fact: PO and congress have not given confidence to investors or the non-investor to invest or spend their private money. Even the “clueless consumers” Remer speaks of understand this.

Fact: Trillions of investment dollars have been removed from the markets and placed on the sidelines.

Fact: With confidence private investment will return to the marketplace and private spending to the shopping mall.

Fact: Government spending has not restored confidence but in fact, has caused even more concern among those with money to spend.

Fact: Government providing incentives to invest and spend private money will rescue our economy without the hangover that will surely result from deficit government spending.

Fact: Remer is spinning his personal basket of hope when he states; “look for a rally when Geither does reveal the details of this plan…”

Unless Remer is in personal communication with PO and Geither how would he know what they plan and unless he has a crystal ball he certainly can’t anticipate the Streets reaction to it.

Posted by: Jim M at March 11, 2009 6:37 PM
Comment #277471

David:

You are dead wrong on Sir Winston Churchill. Cut and dried. Please provide a link for your “information”. After all, you said,”It is good to take in ALL relevant information and accounting for it, before exposing one’s partisan stance with such a limited and contrived set of information.”.

You also said,”And let’s be clear here. Corporate America does not have an answer. Wall St. investors hold diametrically opposed views on the issue. And Consumers haven’t a clue what the hell I am talking about. The Obama administration is devising an answer and a plan to help relieve these corporations of those valueless assets so that they may return to the business of lending for a profit again.” directly followed by,”In other words, I wouldn’t be too quick to smack down the only people with the power to remedy this situation, before they have even provided the plan to remedy the situation. BTW, look for a rally when Geither does reveal the details of this plan. Wall St. may not like the details, but they will love having a plan to solve the valueless asset liabilities issue.”. Would it not have been prudent to provide a plan before Billions, excuse me, Trillions of dollars were spent to remedy the problems? My God, sir, even GHWB knew the difference between reset and overcharge.

Posted by: submarinesforever at March 11, 2009 8:18 PM
Comment #277475

Jim M,

“Recently PO slapped our British friends and hurled them an insult by returning the statue of Churchill which was given to the US shortly after 911 as a reminder of how that great PM led a nation in despair and confusion to eventual victory over the enemies of all mankind. I simply can’t fathom the reason for such a blatantly needless, senseless, harmful, and belligerent act. Can Remer or someone else please explain why this might have been done?”

Though I have never been to politicalcarnival (see below), and I cannot vouch for the information this is the only explanation I have found.

http://thepoliticalcarnival.blogspot.com/2009/02/ugly-churchill-bust-president-obama.html

“Barack Obama’s grandfather was imprisoned and brutally tortured by the British during the violent struggle for Kenyan independence, according to the Kenyan family of the US President-elect.

Hussein Onyango Obama, Mr Obama’s paternal grandfather, became involved in the Kenyan independence movement while working as a cook for a British army officer after the war. He was arrested in 1949 and jailed for two years in a high-security prison where, according to his family, he was subjected to horrific violence to extract information about the growing insurgency.

“The African warders were instructed by the white soldiers to whip him every morning and evening till he confessed,” said Sarah Onyango, Hussein Onyango’s third wife, the woman Mr Obama refers to as ‘Granny Sarah’”

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 11, 2009 9:17 PM
Comment #277477

Rocky,

Does it send a chill through you to think the president may think he has a family axe to grind against our most consistent allies?

Does me…

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 11, 2009 9:37 PM
Comment #277480

The statue was on loan to GWB. The proper question is why did he not return it as he should have prior to the end of his administration. Seems the mini depression, war in Afghanistan, and the continued occupation of Iraq isn’t the only thing Obama got stuck with. What a waste of … Jim M did this originate with the Limbaugh by chance? If this is the best….

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/4623148/Barack-Obama-sends-bust-of-Winston-Churchill-on-its-way-back-to-Britain.html

Posted by: j2t2 at March 11, 2009 9:58 PM
Comment #277482

j2t2,

Reading the article you posted it comes off as rather less congenial than you would have it seem. The Telegraph certainly perceives a snub in Obama’s actions.

From the way the article is written, and recognizing we’re reading a tabloid rather than an Oxford fellow’s graduate paper, the British government didn’t necessarily WANT to have it returned at the end of GWB’s term.

Posted by: Lee Jqmison at March 11, 2009 10:24 PM
Comment #277489

Lee whether it was as congenial as you would like or not isn’t the issue is it? The issue to me is the misinformation spewed by the conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic such as Jim M.’s accusation that “Recently PO slapped our British friends and hurled them an insult by returning the statue of Churchill which was given to the US shortly after 911 as a reminder of how that great PM led a nation in despair and confusion to eventual victory over the enemies of all mankind. I simply can’t fathom the reason for such a blatantly needless, senseless, harmful, and belligerent act.”
Yet all Obama did was return an item on loan, not given, from the British. This simple act of returning what was borrowed years ago by the previous administration is perceived on the right as a “slap” and “an insult” as well as “blatantly needless, senseless harmful and belligerent”.

The bust of Churchill was replaced with a bust of Lincoln which is what Obama evidently preferred for his office. Certainly he should have the right to put what ever he chooses in his office and to remove what he doesn’t want in his office. Would you put a bust of a man who lead the nation at the time that nation tortured your ancestors in lieu of one that lead the war to free people from slavery in this Country?

Whether the British wanted it back or not raises the question of whether it was a bribe or a loan doesn’t it?

I think the question that should be raised is why would GWB leave this statue behind knowing the history of Churchill and his successor to the office. And where is the sensitivity to this issue from the British conservatives that are in such a tizzy over this? Why did they not demand this statue back prior to Obama occupying the office knowing Churchill was indirectly responsible for torturing Obama’s grandfather. It seems the insult is coming from the British and is directed at Obama.
Why, instead of spewing these false accusations, isn’t Jim M. and his sources defending Obama on this issue. It saddens me to think this is the best repubs/ conservatives can do during these trying times. I wonder what else was left behind from the previous administration in an attempt to insult the new administration?

Will the repubs/conservatives now all run out and acquire Churchill busts, flags or lapel pins for prominent display as a means of tormenting our new president and/or to show solidarity with the British? Or will they just keep making up half truths and spewing them as facts? What a foolish way to test the mettle of our president.

Lee you are better than this, choose your friends wisely.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 12, 2009 12:33 AM
Comment #277496

Lee,

“Does it send a chill through you to think the president may think he has a family axe to grind against our most consistent allies?”

It’s a bust, it’s only a bust.
It’s a piece of art, and it’s not a very attractive piece of art.
If Obama truly had an axe to grind and wanted to make a big deal about it, he could hire a boat, call a news conference, and pitch it into the Potomac in front of the entire world. As it stands now he returned a “loaned” piece of art.
IMHO the right seems to place far too much importance on inanimate objects, in symbols.

If we need this bust to jar our memories of Sept. 11th, this country is much worse off than even I thought.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 12, 2009 10:19 AM
Comment #277505

j2t2 asks; “Jim M did this originate with the Limbaugh by chance?”

Nope, my original thoughts were written.

Then j2t2 writes a complete fabrication by saying; “Would you put a bust of a man who lead the nation at the time that nation tortured your ancestors in lieu of one that lead the war to free people from slavery in this Country?”

Sorry j2t2, your revisionist history is just as fabricated as is that of Remer. Churchill was not leading the nation until shortly before WWII. He was the only person acceptable to both ruling parties in Britain at that time and was the singular voice in that country who had been calling for the world to act to prevent Hitler from rearming Germany in direct violation of the surrender terms following WWI. He was preceded in office by some gutless politicians who believed in appeasement as did those in France, Russia, Poland, and most of Europe.

Winston Churchill was a giant in the cause of freedom and almost alone in fighting Hitler in the early days preceding WWII. Can anyone appreciate how the people on this tiny island, with Churchill at the lead, withstood everything Hitler could throw at them?

Churchill, with help from Roosevelt thru lend-lease withstood the Nazi onslaught and every citizen of the world can thank this man for his tremendous intelligence, perseverance, duty and devotion in a time of peril that few could have withstood. If you wish to look upon the face of a true hero…look no further than Winston Churchill. The free people of the world will be forever in his debt.

Posted by: Jim M at March 12, 2009 12:53 PM
Comment #277507

I forgot to respond to this also written by j2t2; “(Lincoln)…lead the war to free people from slavery in this Country?”

More revisionist history. Anyone who knows just the bare facts of the Civil War know it wasn’t about slavery.

Posted by: Jim M at March 12, 2009 1:10 PM
Comment #277508

Rocky,

Lee,

“Does it send a chill through you to think the president may think he has a family axe to grind against our most consistent allies?”
It’s a bust, it’s only a bust.
In international relations nothing is ever just what it is.

Let’s say the torture story is allowed to fester in the blogosphere as the unstated reason the bust was returned, even if it was not. A substantial number of people in Britain could begin to see the action of returning the bust as a genuine snub, an act of pettiness and pique. That inevitably would result in a portion of that democracy’s voting population (a group that affects policy toward us) thinking the American government held a grudge against them for events about which they could do nothing. What a foolish move that would be for a head of state!

It is irrelevant whether the events in the story were real or made up, and whether the snub from the president was real or made up. Diplomacy is about sending clear signals to nation’s leaders and their public.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 12, 2009 1:20 PM
Comment #277510

submarines, It would appear your comment that I was dead wrong on Churchill failed the research and source test, not mine.

Let’s begin with William F. Buckley Jr. who wrote: “Mr. Churchill had struggled to diminish totalitarian rule in Europe which, however, increased. He fought to save the Empire, which dissolved. He fought socialism, which prevailed. He struggled to defeat Hitler, and he won.”

One out of four is good?

Harry Elmer Barnes of the Institute for Historical Review writes: “He [Churchill] praised Mussolini and Hitler lavishly after their totalitarian programs had been fully established and their operations were well known. He said that if he had been an Italian he would have been a Fascist, and as late as 1938 he stated that if England were ever in the same straits that Germany had been in 1933, he hoped that England would find “her Hitler.”

So, tell me, submarines, where are you getting your information from, an 8th grade propaganda history book written by an American born after WWII was over, which also says G. Washington couldn’t tell a lie and admitted to cutting down the cherry tree?

I would more favorably regard your comments if they questioned another’s authority on a topic, rather than errantly declaring them wrong out of ignorance on a particular topic. You asked for my sources. You have what you asked for. Not what you expected, obviously.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 12, 2009 1:41 PM
Comment #277516

“Sorry j2t2, your revisionist history is just as fabricated as is that of Remer. Churchill was not leading the nation until shortly before WWII.”

Jim M. still spreading conservative misinformation on the garden of truth I see.

From the link in my previous comment.
“Churchill has less happy connotations for Mr Obama than those American politicians who celebrate his wartime leadership. It was during Churchill’s second premiership that Britain suppressed Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion. Among Kenyans allegedly tortured by the colonial regime included one Hussein Onyango Obama, the President’s grandfather.”

“I forgot to respond to this also written by j2t2; “(Lincoln)…lead the war to free people from slavery in this Country?”
More revisionist history. Anyone who knows just the bare facts of the Civil War know it wasn’t about slavery.”

Of course not Jim M., it was about everything else but wasn’t it. Lets face facts my friend the main reason the south seceded from the union was Slavery. Not the only reason but the main reason.


“There were a few reasons other then the slavery issue, that the
South disagreed on and that persuaded them to succeed from the Union.”
http://www.cyberessays.com/History/86.htm

Posted by: j2t2 at March 12, 2009 2:43 PM
Comment #277520

Jim M, apparently Churchill left out his own quotes in his autobiographies. Your comment’s ignorance of the veractity of my statement about Churchill, warrants a bit of objective history reading.

Tell me Jim, what do you do with inconvenient facts which contradict the ignorance contained in your comments? “Churchill did say say that if he had been an Italian he would have been a Fascist, and as late as 1938 he stated that if England were ever in the same straits that Germany had been in 1933, he hoped that England would find “her Hitler.

How do you rationalize away your comment’s ignorance of these historical facts? The illogical prescription contained in some of your comments appears to go like this: “If I don’t know it, it must not be true. If what others say does not match my limited knowledge, they must be wrong.”

Makes it very easy to win debates with your comments by producing evidenced sources rebutting the limits of knowledge contained in your comments based on nothing more than your opinion.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 12, 2009 3:17 PM
Comment #277521

Churchill became Prime Minister on May 10th 1940 with the fall of PM Chamberlain. On this day Churchill wrote;

“At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.

Ten years in the political wilderness had freed me from ordinary party antagonisms. My warnings over the last six years had been so numerous, so detailed, and were not so terribly vindicated, that no one could gainsay me. I could not be reproached either for making the war or with want of preparation for it.”

That Remer and j2t2 prefer the simplicity and fiction of Dick and Jane books I prefer to get my history from the source, not some hack with a vengeance rewriting history. PO wouldn’t even make a decent pimple on Winston’s rear end.

Posted by: Jim M at March 12, 2009 4:09 PM
Comment #277522

Correction: “My warnings over the last six years had been so numerous, so detailed, and were not now so terribly vindicated, that no one could gainsay me. I could not be reproached either for making the war or with want of preparation for it.”

Posted by: Jim M at March 12, 2009 4:12 PM
Comment #277523

David,

Jim M has been saying for a while he was reading Churchill’s books on the history coming up to and including W.W.II.

As one of the few people who warned of the dangers of Facism early on Churchill would seem a poor adherant to its ideas.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 12, 2009 5:38 PM
Comment #277524

Jim M, no, your comments indicate a preference for information from the MOST BIASED source possible: Churchill himself. Why would you NOT expect him to omit his 1938 statement about wishing England could find a Hitler type if England were suffering the conditions of Germany in 1933.

The size of Churchill’s ego is well documented by nearly all historians. And you trust Churchill’s opinion of Churchill. Thank you for that lesson on your comment’s approach to gathering historical knowledge and information. Should prove useful in future debates.

I presume you would then, accept Charles Manson’s account of his history and past over that of historians, reporters, and investigators, then, since you put so much stock in autobiography over a consensus of biography and historically documented facts. Churchill’s words on Hitler prior to 1939 are documented facts, you know.

Churchill omitting them from his autobiography doesn’t omit such facts from history. :-)

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 12, 2009 5:43 PM
Comment #277525

Jim M, thank you fro the correction to your quote of Churchill, which lends credence to my comments, not yours. You do realize, don’t you, that Churchill’s words, which you quote, admit that his utterances of the last six years are very subject to critique and criticism given the actual events that followed afterward. His 1938 remark about hoping England could find a Hitler, being a notable one.

Perhaps you should get the definition of Churchill’s word “gainsay” from the dictionary, before replying with a comment pregnant with ignoring such relevant details.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 12, 2009 5:52 PM
Comment #277526

Jim M., I guess because Churchill did such a good job holding Hitler off until FDR and Stalin could send in the troops to dispose of the Germans we should all be upset that Obama chose not to have his bust on display? Should the bust of Stalin and FDR be mandatory in the oval office as well? There were a great many heroes in WWII and Churchill was one of them. If GWB thought Churchill stood out from the rest and wanted his bust in the white house then I am ok with that. I consider it to be a personal decision as it was his office at the time. Myself I would have chosen a Jefferson or Franklin statue, and to tell the truth I would not have checked with the British conservatives to make sure their feelings were not hurt by my choice.

The point of my previous comments is the misleading and inaccurate information in your initial post would lead one to believe Obama intentionally and deliberately insulted the British people. Come to find out he didn’t do any such thing, it was all conservative hot air. Yet you seem to over look this as you draw the discussion away from your original fabrications and towards the virtues of Churchill.

In fact you seem unable to grasp the fact that Churchill did in fact serve as Prime Minister from 1951 until 1955, which coincidentally was during the same time frame as the Mau Mau uprising. Yes Jim M. life went on after WWII, and so did Churchill despite your unwillingness to deal with this truth. I just have to ask this question Jim M. would Reagan make a good pimple on Churchill’s rear end?

Posted by: j2t2 at March 12, 2009 6:01 PM
Comment #277527

Lee, Churchill is touted as having warned of fascism, but, when, I would have to research. He understood why the Italian people succumbed to Moussalini’s fascism, which is what he meant when saying if he had been an Italian he would have been a Fascist. It is not that there was anything wrong with his statement, other than the fact that his choice of words were not received and understood as he intended: a sympathetic understanding extended to the people of Italy.

One thing is for sure, he arrived at the lesson of the requirement for being an excellent wordsmith the hard way, having found himself in opposition to his party, twice, and superiors in government, having voiced opinions that resulted in at least one removal from a government position prior to his rise to prime minister.

With such a humiliating lesson in the need for great care with words, he did indeed go on to become one of the greatest speakers in modern English history. A consequence of several episodes of having to regret his utterances in the past.

I have enormous respect for Churchill for having overcome his own handicap in such a manner and turning it into one of his most renowned strengths. Still, doesn’t change his foibles or statements on record, earlier on, which he admits are not beyond criticism in the quote Jim M provides from Churchill.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 12, 2009 6:04 PM
Comment #277529

David:

You stated, “One of his major screw ups was in deferring to the rise of Hitler in Germany in the first place. Churchill actually thought Hitler was a great leader before changing his mind some years later.”. I asked for a link to back this statement and you provided none. I understand your reluctance to provide one. Hitler was not even elegible to run for president until 1932. Churchill, in 1932, opposed rearming Germany. So in the face of facts, I challange you to provide links that will verify your claims.

When I first challanged you to provide sources for your facts, you replied, “Let’s begin with William F. Buckley Jr. who wrote: “Mr. Churchill had struggled to diminish totalitarian rule in Europe which, however, increased. He fought to save the Empire, which dissolved. He fought socialism, which prevailed. He struggled to defeat Hitler, and he won. One out of four is good?”. Nice response, factually correct, but having nothing to do with the point in question. Redirection and attacking a subject of debate, although effective, adds nothing to the debate, does not reinforce your point that Churchill deferred to the rise of Hitler. Nice try.

You then say,” Harry Elmer Barnes of the Institute for Historical Review writes: “He [Churchill] praised Mussolini and Hitler lavishly after their totalitarian programs had been fully established and their operations were well known. He said that if he had been an Italian he would have been a Fascist, and as late as 1938 he stated that if England were ever in the same straits that Germany had been in 1933, he hoped that England would find “her Hitler.”. Nice spin. Harry Elmer Barnes was a pioneer in revisionist history. Not suprising that this is the “source” you cite to back up your statement that,”One of his major screw ups was in deferring to the rise of Hitler in Germany in the first place.”. I suggest that you read the speech that Churchill made on November 16,1934.

“So, tell me, submarines, where are you getting your information from, an 8th grade propaganda history book written by an American born after WWII was over, which also says G. Washington couldn’t tell a lie and admitted to cutting down the cherry tree?” Sir, I am better read than that. Aside from the slight you make on my education, I ask if you can back up your point without using revisionist historians. That is the reason I asked you to cite your sources, and probably why you refused to do so.

“I would more favorably regard your comments if they questioned another’s authority on a topic, rather than errantly declaring them wrong out of ignorance on a particular topic. You asked for my sources. You have what you asked for. Not what you expected, obviously.”. Sir, I am questioning a self proclaimed “authority on a topic, rather than errantly declaring them wrong out of ignorance on a particular topic.”. Despite the attacks on my intelligence and education, you have not answered my questions and quite frankly that is what I expected.

Posted by: submarinesforever at March 12, 2009 6:39 PM
Comment #277530

I am continually surprised at the lengths some will go to defend the boorish behavior of their supposed savior PO. One can suppose that PO may be offended by other art hanging or resting in the WH which will also be unceremoniously returned. How can one with such a hard head have such thin skin?

Posted by: Jim M at March 12, 2009 6:52 PM
Comment #277531

To paraphrase Mr Churchill;

Never have so many made such a big deal about something so trivial.

I think that after so many years of gaffes, malapropisms, and outright insults, that the conservatives in this country might give a rat’s ass about what the rest of the world thinks about the disposition of a “loaned” and returned statue quite hysterical.

Lee,

Please don’t take my remarks as personal, as they are merely about the tone of this thread in general.

This was a response to a query about the bust in 2007, it will require Adobe reader to access;

http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/freedom_of_information/Response77213.pdf

“As described in Point 3, the loan agreement dictates that the bust will return to the UK in January 2009, at the end of President Bush’s term of office.”

Regardless of whether England wants the bust back or not, I think that makes this whole Obama dissing Britian issue moot.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 12, 2009 7:07 PM
Comment #277535

submarines, you asked for sources. I gave but the first on google in a lengthy list. Of course, you would reply by discrediting the sources. Completely anticipated tactic in debate. However, anyone who researches the subject will find other sources as well, and though you may attempt to discredit them all, others will realize your absence of knowledge of Churchill’s history doesn’t match that of historians whose education and expertise have reputation behind them.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 12, 2009 9:48 PM
Comment #277540

“I am continually surprised at the lengths some will go to defend the boorish behavior of their supposed savior PO.”

Jim M I too would like to say I am surprised at the extents you conservatives go to misinform the public about the actions of “their supposed savior” Obama. Unfortunately I am not surprised at all. To top it off, a statement such as “PO wouldn’t even make a decent pimple on Winston’s rear end.” is the epitome of the word boorish IMHO.

“One can suppose that PO may be offended by other art hanging or resting in the WH which will also be unceremoniously returned.”

One can suppose all they want Jim M. but the facts remain, Obama returned borrowed artwork at the appropriate time, Get over it. If he doesn’t like other artwork or whatever why would you suppose he should be cowered into leaving it in place by the likes of the talk radio conservatives?

“How can one with such a hard head have such thin skin?”

My point exactly Jim M., it seems the only thin skin however is that of the conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic who have worked themselves into a frenzy over nothing.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 12, 2009 10:33 PM
Comment #277569

j2t2 objects to my phrase by writing; “To top it off, a statement such as “PO wouldn’t even make a decent pimple on Winston’s rear end.” is the epitome of the word boorish IMHO.

Nope, not boorish but a direct intended insult to his leadership by example. Perhaps someday when PO has actually accomplished something in addition to merely spending trillions of taxpayer dollars I’ll reconsider.

That Churchill was an effective leader as PM is beyond question.

Posted by: Jim M at March 13, 2009 12:52 PM
Comment #277583

Jim M. I guess this is just one more example of redirecting the discussion away from the foolishness of the conservative uproar about the Churchill bust. However the facts still remain, the statue was on loan, and this is just one more conservative attempt at Obama bashing that has failed.

How easy it is to compare a career that spanned decades against 50 days in office and find the 50 days to be lacking. So easy to insult the man who has just started out, so easy, so conservative and so what? Why not stack Churchill up against one of his contemporaries such as FDR, Stalin, Hitler, Hirohito or Mussolini? Seems that would be more of a valid comparison and would be more logical than using the Churchill bust to criticize Obama. Seems a shame you have to go back to WWII to find a conservative leader worthy of comparing to a man in office for 50 days but hey whatever you need to do to misrepresent the issue huh?

Posted by: j2t2 at March 13, 2009 2:45 PM
Comment #277588

j2t2 fails to find meaning in my statement that concurs with his post above. Obama’s (50 days) experience is as a pimple compared to the broad experience of Churchill’s lifetime.

I find it curious that j2t2 does not consider any experience by Obama before becoming president as worthy of mention. Not that I disagree, just curious because during the campaign we were told that this experience, not worth mentioning now, was important and qualifying.

Posted by: Jim M at March 13, 2009 4:03 PM
Comment #277593

“j2t2 fails to find meaning in my statement that concurs with his post above. Obama’s (50 days) experience is as a pimple compared to the broad experience of Churchill’s lifetime.”

Perhaps JimM it is because of what you said and the context in which you said “That Remer and j2t2 prefer the simplicity and fiction of Dick and Jane books I prefer to get my history from the source, not some hack with a vengeance rewriting history. PO wouldn’t even make a decent pimple on Winston’s rear end.”

OF course you can twist the words yet somehow I don’t believe that even you believe what you are spinning.

As far as experience Jim M. what is the relevance, it is yet another redirection of the discussion from the fact that Obama made no mistake despite the false claims you made in your earlier comment.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 13, 2009 5:20 PM
Comment #277634

Rocky,

Lee
Please don’t take my remarks as personal, as they are merely about the tone of this thread in general.
I am not taking it personally. My concerns on the subject are not a result of assumptions about the disposition of the bust or the agreement for the loan thereof, but on the tenor of press coverage in Britain. Obama has promised to be more sensitive to the feelings of other countries. In dealing with democracies that does not mean he maintains a good rapport with Gordon Brown (which he appears not to have done anyway) alone, but that he is aware of the sensitivities of the voting populations in those countries.

He now personifies us to them. How will he make them feel about us?

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 14, 2009 11:38 AM
Comment #277644

Lee,

Had the “bust” been a gift to George W Bush and not a loan, then perhaps the return could be seen as a rebuff.
Given the controversy in England about the loan of the “artwork” in the first place;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2005/aug/28/usa.politicsandthearts

I wonder if the “insult” issue is more a work of the conservative pundits here in this country, and the tabloids in England, than it is among the folks of Britain.

Tony Blair, loaned a “British national treasure” to Bush because of his well known admiration of Churchill.
The “loan” was extended after Bush’s re-election 2004.
Blair’s knee-scraping fealty to Bush is partly to blame for his own declining popularity numbers (even lower than Bush’s numbers here in America), with the electorate in England, and his eventual resignation.

Bush is said to draw inspiration from Churchill.
Obama is said to draw inspiration from Lincoln.

I have googled this “bust” issue in many forms.
After reading many of the articles I now think the issue is more about that the conservative pundits are pissed that there isn’t a conservative in the White House admiring the loaned bust, than it is about the fact that Obama decided to return said bust to it’s rightful owners, the British people.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 14, 2009 1:01 PM
Comment #277657

Rocky, the failure of PO or his administration to properly explain the return is what lead to the confusion. With no official explanation there remained only speculation. Some speculation pointed to some supposed abuse by the Brits, of a PO ancestor, at a time when Churchill was PM.

We expect our presidents to explain their actions. That PO didn’t is inexcusable. If PO is too tired or too preoccupied with other matters then he should perhaps take a vacation or hire more qualified staff.

The failure to explain, or a mistaken understanding of a president’s actions can, in some cases, have dire consequences for the nation. Fortunately, this little dust-up didn’t create an international crisis. I expect more from our president.

I still don’t understand the hardly equitable gift exchange between Brown and PO. Our nation was given a gift of significance, not in monetary value, but in sentiment. We gave the Brits a thoughtless and meaningless gift.

My friends, PO has no class and appears to have no appreciation for the significance of his actions as spokesperson for all our people.

Posted by: Jim M at March 14, 2009 2:22 PM
Comment #277660

Jim M,

This is utter baloney.

The bust was a loan from someone that didn’t have true authorization to make the loan to someone that made it known that he admired Churchill.
Obviously Mr. Obama admires Lincoln more than he admires Churchill.

“We expect our presidents to explain their actions. That PO didn’t is inexcusable.”

Where were you when Mr. Bush’s only explanation for his actions was that he was “the decider”?

“Fortunately, this little dust-up didn’t create an international crisis. I expect more from our president.”

International crisis? Oh please!

This whole trivial bust issue is a canard. It is merely a means by which the right can stick their collective finger in Obama’s eye.
You guys on the right didn’t want Obama to become President. You still barely accept the fact he actually got elected, and now to take something as trivial as this non-issue and run with it is beyond the pale.

The bust was on loan, it wasn’t a gift. It was scheduled to be returned at the end of Bush’s term in office, and it has been.

Next.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 14, 2009 2:54 PM
Comment #277669

Perhaps I was a bit too harsh in my last post.

In a kinder, gentler, spirit, let me offer yet a different perspective.

In the months after the election, before Obama was sworn in, had the British diplomatic corps actually educated themselves about Obama’s family (which BTW, I believe is part of their job), this whole thing could have been handled, dare I say, diplomatically.
If Obama’s grandfather is actually the issue, the British ambassador could have taken care of this quietly, with no fanfare.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 14, 2009 3:51 PM
Comment #277670

Rocky wrote; “The bust was on loan, it wasn’t a gift. It was scheduled to be returned at the end of Bush’s term in office, and it has been.”

Great hindsight Rocky. Where were you with this simple explanation when the fuss began…when I first asked if anyone knew why the bust was returned? If PO would have simply said what you wrote, that would have been it. Because he didn’t wish to explain, or was incapable of an explanation at the time fueled speculation. Speculation led to discussion.

President’s Rocky, don’t have your luxury of Monday morning quarterbacking. To cite PB of incomplete explanations as an excuse for PO is rather lame…don’t you think? Surely you expect more from PO?

Posted by: Jim M at March 14, 2009 3:51 PM
Comment #277675

Jim M,

Perhaps you didn’t read this;

http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/freedom_of_information/Response77213.pdf

The question was asked and answered 1.5 years ago.

As to what I expect from Obama, I expect him to do his job to the best of his ability.
What I don’t expect is for him to needlessly answer inane questions about trivialities.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 14, 2009 4:27 PM
Comment #277676

Jim M,

“To cite PB of incomplete explanations as an excuse for PO is rather lame…don’t you think?”

Gee, I don’t know.
Did you consider it lame when PB cited Clintons incomplete explanations as an excuse for his policies?

Just a thought.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at March 14, 2009 4:36 PM
Comment #277687

David:
You siad, “submarines, you asked for sources. I gave but the first on google in a lengthy list. Of course, you would reply by discrediting the sources. Completely anticipated tactic in debate. However, anyone who researches the subject will find other sources as well, and though you may attempt to discredit them all, others will realize your absence of knowledge of Churchill’s history doesn’t match that of historians whose education and expertise have reputation behind them.”.

Let us review and examine what has transpired. This started when I responded to you writing “One of his major screw ups was in deferring to the rise of Hitler in Germany in the first place. Churchill actually thought Hitler was a great leader before changing his mind some years later.”, to which you responded with quotes by William F. Buckley, Jr. and Harry Elmer Barnes of the Institute for Historical Review. A couple of points here:

1. I actually said about the quote from Mr. Buckley, ” Nice response, factually correct, but having nothing to do with the point in question. Redirection and attacking a subject of debate, although effective, adds nothing to the debate, does not reinforce your point that Churchill deferred to the rise of Hitler. Nice try.”. I actually agreed with your source, what an attack. Your source here is still not relevent to your claim.

2. As for Harry Elmer Barnes:

A. You said, “Harry Elmer Barnes of the Institute for Historical Review”. The Institute of Historical Review was founded in 1978. This in and of itself would not be remarkable except for the fact that “Harry Elmer Barnes of the Institute for Historical Review” died in 1968. I am sure that my extended answer to your question, “So, tell me, submarines, where are you getting your information from, an 8th grade propaganda history book written by an American born after WWII was over, which also says G. Washington couldn’t tell a lie and admitted to cutting down the cherry tree?” would be, “Yes, but my eighth grade propoganda history book said that time travel had not yet been achieved. Now were I to revise history, I could claim that he was a member of the Institute”.

B. Speaking of the Institute, their biography of “Harry Elmer Barnes of the Institute for Historical Review” states, ” Harry Elmer Barnes (1889-1968) is generally regarded as the founding father of historical revisionism. The first-ever Revisionist Convention in 1979 was dedicated to his memory.”. Am I as you would say, “reply[ing] by discrediting the sources. Completely anticipated tactic in debate. However, anyone who researches the subject will find other sources as well, and though you may attempt to discredit them all, others will realize your absence of knowledge of Churchill’s history doesn’t match that of historians whose education and expertise have reputation behind them.”? No, I am just quoting the source you cited. I can see why it would be taken as an attempt to discredit though.

C. Addressing the quote of “Harry Elmer Barnes of the Institute for Historical Review”:

1. The quote you provided is only proven accurate in the sense that that is a quote by “Harry Elmer Barnes of the Institute for Historical Review”.

2. “Harry Elmer Barnes of the Institute for Historical Review” did not cite a source for this quote. If this is the proof your point that, “He [Churchill] praised Mussolini and Hitler lavishly after their totalitarian programs had been fully established and their operations were well known”, or that “One of his major screw ups was in deferring to the rise of Hitler in Germany in the first place” then the difference in our ” research and source test” is quite striking.

3. Even the rebuttal to “Harry Elmer Barnes of the Institute for Historical Review“‘s article on the googled website( courts .fsnet. co. uk) stated: “Two typically vague generalisations from HEB here. When were their operations “well known”, and when were their programs “well established”? And what, for that matter, does HEB mean by the terms “totalitarian programs” and “operations”? And what “lavish praise” did Churchill bestow on them? HEB needs to give examples if he is to make this kind of accusation. This is not history at all, and very poor journalism. Throwing bland accusations at people is not very difficult, and not very impressive.”, ” No-one really knew quite how bad fascism was going to turn out. Many in Britain thought that Mussolini and Hitler were just typical European autocrats, not unlike the rulers those countries had endured before. Many were far more favourably inclined to fascism than Churchill, and remained so long after his highly qualified positive observations (which basically centred on the fact that they had restored order and banished Communism) had ceased. Perhaps Churchill’s greatest political campaign was his early, sustained and vigorous opposition to fascism.” and “Re: Hitler, Churchill wrote an article in the late 1930s entitled “Hitler and his Choice” which was published in his book “Great Contemporaries”. This is often used by his detractors (HEB included??…who knows, he doesn’t say) as it contained phrases along the lines of “if Hitler draws back from the brink of war now, he will go down as one of the greatest statesmen Germany has ever produced”. The rest of the article makes clear that this is only due to his pulling Germany out of the communist-filled gutter after WW1, and effectively is a challenge to Hitler. There is a massive “IF” in there, and Churchill, from other sources, quite clearly thought that it was one that would not be answered”. I agree; however, some may agree that throwing unsubstanciated allegations while attacking education levels in lieu providing facts is the better debating tactic.

David, you said, “others will realize your absence of knowledge of Churchill’s history doesn’t match that of historians whose education and expertise have reputation behind them.”. I have read a few books on and by Sir Winston Churchill back in the day. He was many things including an alarmist, warmonger, drunk(at times), liar, self aggrandiser, revisionist, socialist and racist. Quite frankly he was a politician(One of the best articles that I have read researching my reply to you was an article “Rethinking Churchill” by Ralph Raico. I think many will find it very interesting and accurate piece.). But you have not proven the allegations that “One of his major screw ups was in deferring to the rise of Hitler in Germany in the first place.” and the supposedly supporting quote, “He [Churchill] praised Mussolini and Hitler lavishly after their totalitarian programs had been fully established and their operations were well known”. Sir, I suggest that “others will realize your absence of knowledge of Churchill’s history doesn’t match that of historians whose education and expertise have reputation behind them” also.

Posted by: submarinesforever at March 14, 2009 8:11 PM
Comment #277688

“the failure of PO or his administration to properly explain the return is what lead to the confusion.

Really Jim M. IMHO the confusion resulted from the lame conservative attempt to make something out of nothing. Instead of finding out if the accusation was true you chose to berate the president for actions attributed to him by others.

Had you taken the time to find out the bust was not given to America as a reminder…, but instead was loaned to GWB perhaps this wouldn’t have been an issue at all.

Explain to whom Jim M, the whiny conservative pundits that made such an issue over nothing to begin with? Jim M. Look at the insults and false accusations you have hurled at Obama on this issue. I mean really what kind of “official explanation” is required when returning an item on loan? Why would anyone think they need to take offense when the item is returned as agreed upon?


Posted by: j2t2 at March 14, 2009 9:29 PM
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