Piddling Away Greatness

posted at 1:34 pm on July 8, 2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh

Today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — presumably speaking for her boss — doubled down on supporting erstwhile Honduran president and would-be dictator José Manuel Zelaya Rosales (a.k.a. Mel Zelaya) instead of rule of law in Honduras:

A day after failing to land in Honduras to confront the interim government that ousted him in a coup, Zelaya boarded a plane bound for Washington, where U.S. officials said he would meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Zelaya told a news conference Monday night that he hopes to ensure U.S. support for diplomatic efforts to see him restored to power.

“Tomorrow we hope to get support for these pronouncements,” Zelaya said before heading to the airport in Managua.

Clinton and President Barack H. Obama superficially seem to be oblivious to the sequence of events that led to Zelaya’s arrest, removal from office, and voluntary exile… but are they really just misinformed? (The full timeline of events in Honduras make clear what really happened, which is the polar opposite of what our antique media tell us.)

I believe at first mere ignorance was exactly the problem: The first time the ongoing, fluid situation in Honduras was explained to Obama, I suspect that all he heard was, “Wugga-wugga liberal wigga wagga union supporter woggle boggle ousted by the military roggle doggle coup d’état.” He chose to stitch this muddle together into a narrative that reads, “The liberal, democratically elected President of Honduras was overthrown by a military junta.”

Alas, Obama is probably the most impulsive man ever to sit in the big chair in la Casa Blanca; he appears allergic to debate, discussion, deliberation, contemplation, thinking things through, weighing consequences, examining the pros and cons, hearing from all sides before making a decision — and of course retrospection.

By now, of course, he knows full well what really happened; but it seems he simply cannot bring himself to admit that he misunderstood so egregiously in the first five minutes — which, coincidentally, was when he committed himself to supporting Zelaya, come what may; see our earlier Big Lizards post “Old Shoes and Barackends.”

The military has a term they use for the decision-making process; they call it the OODA loop, for “Observe, Orient, Decide and Act.” But the Obamacle appears to have found a different route to decision making.

He Partially listens to a random aide, acts on his first Impulse, angrily and bitterly Defends whatever snap-judgment action he took, Doubles-down on that first impulse, Laughs off any subsequent, game-changing information… then furiously Echos the pronunciamentos of any allies he might have gathered on the issue, no matter who they are — or whether their own interests align with or are diametrically opposed to America’s.

We can call this the Obamic PIDDLE loop, which generally morphs quite rapidly into an infinite regress. Let’s see it play out in the Honduras case:

  1. Partially listen: Somehow, President Obama got the idea stuck in his brain that there was an actual military coup in Honduras, where the entire elected government was overthrown and some generalissimo or military junta took command.
  2. Impulsively decide: Stung by constant accusations of fence-sitting and waffling, Obama often “demonstrates his leadership” by making a snap decision based on his instincts. Alas, those “instincts” are formed on the basis of bullet (1) above: Outraged that such a fine, decent man as Mel Zelaya was ousted by a military junta (sic), Obama immediately ordered Honduras to reinstate the socialist apparatchik, and he aligned his interests (thought not the nation’s) with Zelaya cronies in Nicaragua, Chile, Venezuela, and Cuba.
  3. Defend his decision: Once he’d made the decision to strongarm Zelaya back into power, President Obama was stunned by the democratic pushback even here in the United States. Instead of rethinking his position, he backed and filled, trying retroactively to justify the unjustifiable decision he made based upon an ill-formed conclusion. (Obama always defends, never discusses.)
  4. Double-down: It frequently happens, in the course of human events, that a snap decision made on the basis of erroneous information doesn’t pan out (now there’s a revelation!) A smart feller backs off and thinks it all through a second time — for example, George W. Bush picking a new general (David Petraeus) with a new strategy (counterinsurgency) to turn around the Iraq war.Alas, Barack Obama’s response to failure is not to rethink, rework, rewrite… it’s to retrench, rinse, and repeat, ad infinitum. Thus, the doubling down we see in today’s Hillary story: The Obamacle cannot back away, because that would be to admit that he goofed it up in the first place; so he goes “all in” on a bad bluff, hoping for a miracle — or a chance to accidentally kick over the table, forcing a misdeal.
  5. Laugh off subsequent facts: As more and more facts have become available — e.g., Zelaya’s pre-arrest antics, the Honduran constitution, the participation of the Honduran Supreme Court, the fact that Zelaya’s replacement, Roberto Micheletti, is next in succession to the presidency and from Zelaya’s own Liberal party anyway — a greater number of ordinary American voters will begin to realize that the White House is on the wrong side of this crucial issue. The only two responses available to Obama are (a) to do a one-eighty and start supporting the rule of law, democracy, and the Honduran people… or (b) to mock, hoot, scoff, and laugh away the inconvenient truth, lest it take root. Pish tosh. Nonsense. Who you gonna believe, me or your own lyin’ eyes?
  6. Echo his allies du jour: In the end, like every poor debater, Barack H. Obama must turn to the only argument left to try to salvage his reputation: the appeal to authority. In this case, he can but turn to his only allies in this disgraceful betrayal of Western and American values… a murderer’s row of dictators, Communists, and fascists — and the American press, which continues to haul water for the president on this one — as if a lie becomes truth when sung in chorus.As Michael Ramirez so wonderfully lampooned (see the Power Line link up top), the President of the United States has relegated himself and his administration to “parroting” the denunciations and diktats of the vilest demagogues in the Western hemisphere: President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua — premier of the Stalinist “Sandinista National Liberation Front;” Oogo Chavez — “il Duce” of Venezuela; the Rev. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann — President of the UN General Assembly, liberation theologist, and former foreign minister to Ortega’s Sandinista government; José Miguel Insulza — the Secretary General of the Organization of American States and also a Socialist, the man who declared last year that Venezuela had “no connection” with any terrorist groups; and of course los bros Castro, Fidel and Raul.

In practice, step 6 occurs within 24 hours of the beginning of the PIDDLE loop… and it dominates the latter stages, as President Obama relies more and more on his friends and allies in whatever action he has decided to take. Eventually, he simply takes on their characteristics as protective coloration, like a chameleon takes on the colors of its surrounding environment, and for the same reason: to hide from predators.

In effect, Obama’s temporary allies become his tribe, and he turns to them over and again for advice, comfort, and friendship. As a consequence, he turns away from those critics whose unwanted facts and uncomfortable observations make him feel bad — the worst sin in the liberal pantheon.

Far from bridging the ideological gap in Washington, Obama’s de facto tribalism segregates administration officials and lawmakers more than at any time since the Second World War. And his PIDDLE loop decision making apparatus guarantees even more presidential isolation from dissenting opinion, both here and abroad.

He is not only piddling away any greatness his administration might have exhibited — having been gifted with extraordinary times — he is also piddling away America’s greatness; that should never be tolerated… not even by other liberals who are not quite so radical, if there is any such rara avis left.

Cross-posted on Big Lizards

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