Joe Biden, prophet

Charles Krauhammer made the point most clearly, in his column for today:

The Biden prophecy has come to pass. Our wacky veep, momentarily inspired, had predicted last October that “it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama.'' Biden probably had in mind an eve-of-the-apocalypse drama like the Cuban Missile Crisis. Instead, Obama's challenges have come in smaller bites. Some are deliberate threats to U.S. interests, others mere probes to ascertain whether the new president has any spine.
   Preliminary X-rays are not very encouraging.
   Consider the long list of brazen Russian provocations:
   (a) Pressuring Kyrgyzstan to shut down the U.S. air base in Manas, an absolutely cru-cial NATO conduit into Afghanistan.
   (b) Announcing the formation of a “rapid reaction force'' with six former Soviet re-publics, a regional Russian-led strike force meant to reassert Russian hegemony in the Muslim belt north of Afghanistan.
   (c) Planning to establish a Black Sea naval base in Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia, conquered by Moscow last summer.
   (d) Declaring Russia's intention to deploy offensive Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad if Poland and the Czech Republic go ahead with plans to station an American (anti-Iranian) missile defense system.

But you know what? I didn't use the Krauthammer piece on today's page. After all, you sort of expect Charles Krauthammer to say stuff like that. Folks like bud are more likely to be persuaded by Joel Brinkley, who is the kind of guy who writes stuff like this:

    Even with all the anti-American sentiment everywhere these days, most people worldwide know America to be a decent, honest state. For all the justified criticism over the invasion of Iraq, the United States is now beginning to pull its troops out. For all the international anger and hatred of George Bush, the American people elected a man who is his antithesis.

Set aside the silliness of saying Obama is Bush's "antithesis" — I point you to all the evidence of "continuity we can believe in," such as here and here — and consider my point, which is that Joel Brinkley is decidedly not Charles Krauthammer. Anyway, here's some of what Mr. Brinkley said, in the column that appears on today's page, about how Obama is being tested, although he managed to say it without being snarky about Joe Biden:

    America’s competitors and adversaries are certainly not greeting President Obama with open arms. During his first month in office, many have given him the stiff arm.
    Pakistan made a deal with the Taliban to give it a huge swath of territory in the middle of the country for a new safe haven.
    North Korea is threatening war with the South.
    Many in the Arab world who had welcomed Obama are now attacking him because he did not denounce Israel’s invasion of Gaza.
    Iran launched a satellite into space, demonstrating that it has the ability to construct an inter-continental ballistic missile to match up with the nuclear weapons it is apparently trying to build.
    There’s more, but none of it can match the sheer gall behind Russia’s open challenge to Washington.

Just to give you yet another perspective that I did NOT use on today's page, here's what Philly's Trudy Rubin had to say about that deal that Pakistan cut with the Taliban:

       The deal was cut with an older insurgent leader, Sufi Mohammed. Supposedly, he will persuade tougher Taliban, such as his estranged son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, to lay down arms. Pakistani defense analyst Ikram Sehgal told me by phone from Karachi, "They are trying to isolate the hard-core terrorists from the moderate militants. I think it is a time of trial, to see if this works."
       Critics say the deal is a desperation move, made by a weak civilian government and an army that doesn't know how to fight the insurgents. "The Pakistani army has been remarkably ineffective," said Dan Markey, a South Asia expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. He said the army, which is trained to fight land wars against India, lacks the counterinsurgency skills to "hit bad guys and not good guys."
       As a result, many innocent civilians are killed, leading locals to accept the Taliban as the lesser of two evils. (That may account for the warm welcome Sufi Mohammed re-ceived in Swat after the deal; poor people are desperate for the violence to stop, whatever it takes.)

So wherever you are on the political spectrum, if you follow and understand foreign affairs, you know that Obama is indeed being tested. Big-time. And it remains to be seen whether he passes the tests. I certainly hope he does.

25 thoughts on “Joe Biden, prophet

  1. blue bunny

    The O Man has been too busy talking down the economy and pushing the payback porkulus bill; but not to worry, the marginalized secretary of state is on her ‘listening’ tour, gathering an international list of grievences americans must atone for.
    i see the ‘change’ but little hope.

  2. john

    It seems that Israel is the biggest threat,and this is why countries are going out of their ways to advance their military.If Israel was not a threat,none of this would be necessary.

  3. Phillip

    I couldn’t understand why people made such a big deal of the Biden comment at the time…I mean, duh…the world is a challenging, dangerous place so it seemed a rather obvious comment to me. McCain would have been tested, too. That’s what it means to be the dominant superpower in the world, you’re gonna get tested.
    Again re the antithesis business, Bush’s shortcomings were not just the sum total of the policies he pursued, misguided as many of them were. It was his worldview and way of approaching problems. In this regard, Obama is already proving to be as close to the antithesis of Bush as you can get. Think about things like the economy, the environment, and what’s about to come down the pike on health care. That all seems pretty antithetical to the W doctrine to me.
    Re Russia: Medvedev and Putin are freaking about domestic unrest over their crappy economy…presto, a little foreign policy bravado and bluster for diversion, mostly for domestic political consumption. No-Drama Obama is on it.

  4. bud

    Most of this stuff is leftover carnage from the Bush years. Folks like Krauthammer can’t wait for him to fail. He’ll be up to the task though. You can count on it. A couple of years from now it will be easy for all to see how much safer we are.

  5. Elizabeth Miller

    Here we go again…yet another blogger joining the voluminous ranks of the media/blogoshpere/punditocracy who fail to understand a word Joe Biden says…y’all still don’t grasp what the point of that Biden address was all about.
    And, I’ll tell you why – individually and collectively, you’re simple not smart enough.
    I have a remedy, though…pay very close attention to everything that Biden says and whatever you do, DO NOT rely on second hand accounts from the US media, mainstream or otherwise – due to rampant incompetence and ineptitude, you understand. If you do this, then you will become instantly better informed…I sheeeeit you not!

  6. Brad Warthen

    Phillip, I sort of thought the same thing at the time — of COURSE he’ll be tested. But the Biden statement played to two shorthand narratives of the campaign: Joe Biden saying what he thinks without thinking a little harder first (and we know Joe does that, bless his loquacious heart), and Obama being so young and inexperienced.
    It played also into the Camelot narrative — just as young JFK was tested by Khrushchev, so will Obama be, etc.
    Sort of like whenever Sarah Palin uttered another malaprop, everybody was all over it. Part of the shorthand narrative of the campaign. These things tend to reinforce themselves. It doesn’t mean they’re not true. It’s just that in the spin cycle, it’s easy to get in a rut and see the same things hammered on over and over.
    Of course Obama would be tested. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be president, or that he won’t pass the test. But right now, he’s having a lot of final exams all at once. And I hope he’s not so busy cramming for the economics exam that he doesn’t keep up his daily work in foreign affairs. Some of those profs are really tough graders.

  7. Ekizabeth Miller

    Thanks for the links! I’ve done some reading and it seems that I owe you a HUGE apology.
    I apologize for assuming the worst, writing in anger (this ALWAYS ends very badly for me – yes, I’m an idiot), and, especially, for including you among the ranks of the incompetent and inept media/blogosphere/punditocracy who will never understand who Joe Biden is or what he is all about.
    I came to your site tonight by way of the ‘esteemed’ Huffington Post and their Joe Biden Big News Page where you can count on finding a plethora of commentary perpetuating a storyline on Biden that has been nothing short of idiotic. I don’t know why I keep going to that page – except, of course, that I’m an idiot!
    While this does not in any way excuse my behavior – especially for a newcomer who doesn’t know squat – but I hope that it will at least go a ways to explain it.
    A fellow Biden fan!

  8. Weldon VII

    “He’ll be up to the task though. You can count on it. A couple of years from now it will be easy for all to see how much safer we are.”
    Bud, please tell me what on God’s green earth you base that statement on, restricting you answer to Obama and not throwing bricks at the defunct Bush administration the way you always do.
    What’s going on now is simple. A good poker player pounces when he senses weakness. Obama, a community organizer with no more experience in military and foreign policy strategy than Dom DeLuise, is being pounced upon from several different directions. What, specifically, makes you think he won’t fold?

  9. Elizabeth Milller

    Well, I would have to agree with you, Weldon that Obama has little experience in military or foreign policy strategy and implementation…kind of like the last president, no?
    But, I can tell you why I know he won’t fold in two words…Joe Biden.
    And, if the last president had listened to what Biden was advocating for Iraq, he may actually have a legacy he could look forward to.

  10. Lee Muller

    Except that President G.W. Bush grew up in the White House, and watched his father as Congressman and Director of the CIA. Obama didn’t have a father.
    G.W. Bush risked a $250,000 inheritance on a business and lost part of it, then worked, earned more, risked his money again on a failing baseball team, and built it into a pennant winner.
    Obama has never had a real job in his life. Obama didn’t file a tax return for 12 years, have lease or any utility bills.

  11. Elizabeth Miller

    Lee, perhaps you could explain something to me, speaking of GWB and his father.
    The first President Bush had this war with Iraq…something to do with kicking Saddam out of Kuwait. Now, fast-forward a decade or so and GWB is faced with an Iraq invasion of another sort.
    I suppose that any reasonable and thinking person would suspect that the two Bush men may have had a conversation or two about the experience and lessons learned during Desert Storm and how that may or may not be applied to Iraq circa 2003.
    Of course, we all know that conversation didn’t occur, despite the foreign policy shortcomings of the junior Bush. We all know that GWB consulted a higher power/father.
    Frankly, I find that whole situation absolutely incredible and it speaks volumes about GWB and his foreign policy team, in general, and about their Iraq policy, in particular…and none of it is good.
    Care to explain…anyone!?

  12. Ish Beverly

    I’m not convinced that the invasion of Iraq was a bad thing. Just because the NYT says it’s bad, does not make it so. I can think of several good possible outcomes had Bush received the proper support. After the ’04 election, the liberal news media, determined to win at all costs to the country, turned the world against Bush and any plan that he had. Bush needed world support and the news media did not help him get it. Just look at how Obama is being carried by the media. Obama can do no wrong.

  13. Elizabeth Miller

    lsh Beverly,
    Bush didn’t need the world in ’04…he needed more troops in Iraq – a lot more – and, he needed sage advice from his so-called advisors.
    He got neither.
    Obama is far from perfect. But, he does have Joe Biden. Bush did, too. Though, he chose not to listen.

  14. Noralee

    Elizabeth, your perspective on VP Biden is refreshing. Your last post…I don’t believe Cheney would have supported Bush consulting with Biden, as Cheney and Biden have seriously differing philosophies on foreign policy. I respect Biden’s.
    Mr. Warthen, your blog is exceptional and arguments intelligently presented. I’m sincerely humbled, but I would like to return if only to read your blog, link to good information, and read your commenters. Kudos for a blog with panache. (bye Liz)

  15. bud

    After the ’04 election, the liberal news media, determined to win at all costs to the country, turned the world against Bush and any plan that he had.
    This whole “liberal media” blather is one of the many talking points played up by the monopoly of talk radio. How ironic. One major component of the media, radio, is utterly monopolized by right wing zealots yet the “liberal media” myth persists.
    Fact is Bush’s popularity declined largely because of his utterly incompetent handling of the Hurricane Katrina relief. No amount of media spin could put a positive face on that failure.

  16. Brad Warthen

    Elizabeth, you are entirely forgiven, and I deeply appreciate your gracious apology. I hope you come back to the blog often.
    You too, Noralee. Glad to have you, and thanks for the kind words.
    bud raises an interesting point, which surprises me a little — that he would point to Katrina as being so key when I thought he placed more emphasis on Iraq.
    Katrina did expose a huge vulnerability for Bush and for the Republicans, and we haven’t seen the last of that. It’s interesting to me that one of the most eloquent condemnations of the nation’s handling of Katrina came from Mike Huckabee. It’s also interesting that Huckabee is the one guy who sought the GOP nomination who is maintaining momentum for the next election — hardly a day goes by that I don’t get a release from him still. He’s the sort of guy who could carve out a new identity for the GOP, one that is NOT hostile to the role of government in society (which is one reason why our own governor’s pals in the Club for Growth dislike him so). But I digress…

  17. Birch Barlow

    It’s also interesting that Huckabee is the one guy who sought the GOP nomination who is maintaining momentum for the next election — hardly a day goes by that I don’t get a release from him still. He’s the sort of guy who could carve out a new identity for the GOP, one that is NOT hostile to the role of government in society (which is one reason why our own governor’s pals in the Club for Growth dislike him so).
    Mike Huckabee was one of the few Republicans, if not the only, running for president with the courage to speak out against the prevailing idea party that all tax increases are bad, all tax cuts are good, and you can’t be a conservative (or what Brad calls “libertarian”) unless you 100% support every possible and potential tax cut. And for that I respect him.
    Of course, his views on foriegn policy and the role of religion in government made him totally unpalatable as a presidential candidate. So if Huckabee represents the new identity of the Republican Party, I doubt it will be a significant enough change to reverse the direction they are headed. More likely, the GOP will just have to wait for the pendulum to swing back in their favor.

  18. Ish Beverly

    Katrina was just another situation whereas the liberal news media had open season on Bush. He was blamed for everthing, even the storm damage. Disasters like Katrina are a state problem. Governors and Mayors respond first, then request Federal assistance if needed. The ignorant and incompetent Democrats in La. lost it. The liberal news media excused them. I’ve noticed that bud only post two types of views on this blog. One, anything that is derogatory to Bush and two, anything that excuses incompetent and criminal behavior in the Democratic Party.

  19. Greg Flowers

    Putin is a strong focused leader (no, he is no longer TECHNICALLY the leader) with great ambitions for his nation. We need to look Russia square in the eye and say “no more.” Of course our European allies need a little more backbone as well. Voting to keep Georgia out of NATO about a year ago was a big mistake. We need to get out of Iran forthwith so that we will have the means to back up what we say around the world.

  20. Herb Brasher

    This article shows the reality on the groundin Iran, and demonstrates why it is important not to jump to conclusions about countries and cultures, or to be too hasty to condemn their actions, or even to take their chants too seriously. We tend to take things literally that should be understood more cautiously in their context.

  21. Archie

    My friend was right! This blog has a very useful information. Just like KimClement. Please visit because there’s a lot information about prophecy, prophet, and etc.


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