By Michael Goodwin | December 15, 2013 | 6:47am
My bookshelves sag with encyclopedic volumes arguing that America and the West are in decline. But proving that a picture is worth a thousand books, the “selfie” seen ’round the world ends the argument.
It’s official — the government of the United States of Obama consists of boobs and bores and is led by a narcissist. It is no consolation that Great Britain joins us in racing to the bottom.
President Obama’s flirting with Denmark’s prime minister would be shameful on any occasion. That it happened at the memorial for Nelson Mandela only adds to the embarrassment.
But the “selfie” episode also symbolizes the greater global calamity of Western decline. With British prime minister David Cameron playing the role of Obama’s giggling wingman, the “look at me” moment confirms we have unserious leaders in a dangerously serious time.
Iran marches toward nuclear weapons and already there is talk in military circles that a nuclear-armed Iran could mean mushroom clouds in the Mideast within five years.
China is flexing its muscles throughout Asia, its ships brazenly confronting ours on the high seas. Russia is expanding its writ in the Arab lands and in Eastern Europe while making casual threats about bombing America. Syria’s Assad uses chemical weapons and Obama and Cameron rattle little sabers before meekly agreeing to become his partner.
The sign-language interpreter wasn’t the only fake at the Mandela funeral. Obama and Cameron were posing as world leaders.
They will never be confused with FDR and Churchill. The fratboys stand in stark contrast to the days when the “special relationship” meant two great leaders uniting two great countries in the fight for freedom. Those leaders understood the consequences if evil prevailed and were committed to victory.
Churchill coined the term “special relationship” during World War II and used it again in his “Iron Curtain Speech” in 1946 that marked the unofficial start of the Cold War. Fearful the West would disarm again, as it did after World War I, he wanted to combat communism by maintaining the “special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States.”
To him it meant our “kindred systems of society” must grow ever closer to provide mutual security and a framework for global peace. That special bond later cemented the Ronald Reagan-Margaret Thatcher partnership that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Try to imagine any of those four embarrassing their nations by acting like indulgent teenagers while civilization hung in the balance. You can’t because they wouldn’t.
Hitler’s greatest mistake was being born too soon. If he were on the march now, would there be will in Washington and London to stop him? Would there be an arsenal of democracy to save mankind from darkness?
In fact, while Obama and Cameron were yukking it up in South Africa, the White House was denouncing bipartisan efforts in Congress to pass more sanctions against Iran. Doing so, it said, would scuttle the feeble interim deal Obama and Cameron accepted. Incredibly, administration arguments echoed Iran’s position.
Try to imagine FDR and Churchill siding with Hitler against their national legislatures. You can’t because they were the antitheses of the appeasers of their times.
World War II proved that the international order collapses when there is no one to support and enforce it. Obama himself has said that, but apparently believes talk is sufficient.
Cameron also talks a good game, but hollowed out the British military to where it is no longer capable of sustained missions.
Words don’t matter to tyrants and genocidal maniacs. They push until they are convinced there will be consequences if they go further.
Our weakness invites their aggression and makes war more likely, not less. That is the perilous state of the world, as the clown kings of the West party on.
Seeking fools for NYC schools
Bill de Blasio is having a hard time getting to yes. Depending on who is counting, as many as three people have turned down an offer to be the new schools chancellor.
The latest “thanks, but no thanks” came from Washington, DC, Chancellor Kaya Henderson. In a letter to her staff squashing rumors she was coming to Gotham, Henderson wrote, “I love DC and I’m not about to leave.”
The mayor-elect should take a hint. Namely, the job isn’t attractive because his agenda aims mostly to keep unions happy. In big ways, that puts de Blasio on the opposite side of the national reform movement, which supports merit pay and teacher evaluations based on student performance.
Instead, the Democrat campaigned on a platform that only opposed things Mayor Bloomberg favors. Because Bloomberg is for charters, de Blasio is against them. Bloomberg closes failing schools, so de Blasio will keep them open. He never actually says how he will improve results.
It’s no coincidence de Blasio’s positions line up with the United Federation of Teachers. None of his ideas will help kids learn, but they will keep the union off his back.
That doesn’t make the job attractive to successful educators. Nor does de Blasio’s push for universal pre-kindergarten if it means protracted political fights over a tax increase. Even if Dollar Bill gets his hike, a new chancellor will face years of classroom squeezes to make room for pre-K students.
Early on, there was talk de Blasio would offer the job to Randi Weingarten, the former head of the UFT who now leads the national union. I don’t think she wants it, but her appointment would have the advantage of honesty. It would make it crystal clear the union is the boss.
Executing the truth
George Orwell lives! Stories about North Korea’s execution of the uncle of Kim Jong-un mention various agencies whose names are the opposite of their real function. There is the ruling Workers’ Party, the Ministry of State Security and, my favorite, the Ministry of People’s Security.
But who are we to laugh? America has the Affordable Care Act.
Hue turn on liberal guilt
The confession by a former Brooklyn judge that he convicted a white man of murder in 1999 because of his own bias could help end the scourge of liberal guilt. Ex-jurist Frank Barbaro, who is also white, is trying to help free a man he says was innocent.
Hopefully, federal Judge Shira Scheindlin is watching. Her smear of Ray Kelly and the NYPD over stop-and-frisk is a classic example of liberal judges trying to remake society to fit their personal prejudices. The city awaits her apology.
Times’ ‘prize’ idiots
Safest bet of the season: The New York Times will nominate its interminable series on a dysfunctional homeless family for a Pulitzer. Nominations are due early next year for work published in calendar 2013, so the project had to run before Dec. 31 to be eligible. Actually, a Pulitzer should go to any reader who waded through the book-length pleading.