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Mugged by Reality

12:43 PM, Oct 2, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Barack Obama staked his entire campaign for the presidency on the premise that the world doesn't have to be the way it is. Obama promised a new brand of "direct, presidential diplomacy" that would resolve the conflicts between the United States and its adversaries and he promised to remove the partisanship from the conflicts in Washington.

Well, it turns out George W. Bush didn't make the world the way it is. It turns out that bribes and threats and coercion just happen to be the most effective way to make those who are hostile to America's interests...less hostile. The only international organizations more corrupt than the International Olympic Committee would have to be found at the United Nations, where President Obama also seems confident that his mere presence and his constant apologies for the behavior of the United States under President Bush will suffice to make the world more cooperative to American interests.

Nine months in and Obama has nothing to show for his presidency. The IOC-despite the combined charisma of Barack and Michelle Obama and Oprah-just nixed Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics. That's what direct, presidential diplomacy will get you. But we see the same woeful failure across the world. North Korea, Iran, Israel--there has been zero progress on any of these fronts despite all the White House spin to the contrary. In Washington, cap and trade has gone nowhere, health care reform has become health insurance reform and even that looks like it's in trouble. Oh and then there's the stimulus. The one great accomplishment of the Obama presidency: So many jobs created and saved and saved again that we only lost 263,000 more this month.