Obama’s belief in the power of his own rhetoric

Ronald Reagan, speaking to Evangelicals about the Soviet Union, in 1983:

Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness — pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world…. I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written. I believe this because the source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual. And because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man.

(See also Reagan on the crackdowns in Poland.)

Natan Sharansky, regarding the power Reagan’s words gave dissidents in their daily fight against the cognitive dissonance created by living under a Soviet regime that routinely perverted simple truths:

It was the great brilliant moment when we learned that Ronald Reagan had proclaimed the Soviet Union an Evil Empire before the entire world. This was the moment. It was the brightest, most glorious day. Finally a spade had been called a spade. Finally, Orwell’s Newspeak was dead. President Reagan had from that moment made it impossible for anyone in the West to continue closing their eyes to the real nature of the Soviet Union. It was one of the most important, freedom-affirming declarations, and we all instantly knew it. For us, that was the moment that really marked the end for them, and the beginning for us. The lie had been exposed and could never, ever be untold now. This was the end of Lenin’s “Great October Bolshevik Revolution” and the beginning of a new revolution, a freedom revolution — Reagan’s Revolution.

Barack Obama regarding citizen protests in Iran against a manifestly rigged election:

“It’s not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling … in Iranian elections,” Obama said. “What I will repeat, and what I said yesterday, is when I see violence directed at peaceful protesters, when I see peaceful dissent being suppressed, … it is of concern to me and it is of concern to the American people. That is not how governments should interact with their people, and it is my hope the Iranian people will make the right steps in order for them to be able to express their voices.”

to meddle (verb):

to involve oneself in a matter without right or invitation; interfere officiously and unwantedly: Stop meddling in my personal life!


Iranian citizens went into their election knowing it was rigged.  How could it not have been when the only candidates were four men hand-picked by the mullahs.  Nevertheless, Iranians had at least the illusion of democracy, because they could vote and, presumably, their votes would count as to those four party men.  The disillusion arose because the mullah’s expressed their disdain for even this pale simulation of Democracy.  Rather than allowing the Iranian’s meaningless votes to appear to matter, they thumbed their noses at the whole process and appointed their guy instead.  It’s one thing to suspect that you’re being played for a fool, but still to be able to assume some semblance of dignity.  It’s another thing to be exposed as a fool, and to have the small dram of dignity stripped away entirely.  Shame is a powerful motivator, and the Iranians have been shamed by their own government.

With shame at their back, Iranians have taken to the streets in numbers unseen since the revolution in 1979.  The lines are clear:  on one side are unarmed citizens demanding that their rulers reconcile their pseudo-democratic rhetoric with actual democratic acts; on the other side are guns.  Faced with this situation in the past, Ronald Reagan unashamedly stood up in support of the citizens.  As leader of the free world, Reagan understood that, if he did not speak out for freedom, he would essentially be disarming those brave citizens armed only with their belief in the American concept of liberal and the rights of individuals.

Our current President’s approach is strikingly different.  Obama has declined to make any statement whatsoever, because he is afraid to meddle.  The past meddling to which he refers, of course, is to the CIA’s active participation in overthrowing Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq back in 1953, and putting in his place the Shah of Iran. Now that was some serious meddling.

Here, Obama is not being asked to do anything, he is just being asked to say something.  As we’ve noted before, though, Obama believes his words are the equivalent of acts.  God-like, he believes that, if he were to say “let there be . . . something (such as light),” that means that there will be this . . . something (such as light).  For this reason, he believes that his taking a Reaganesque posture and speaking out openly against evil, corruption, and antidemocratic impulses is identical to the physical act of placing a bomb under the Mullahs and lighting the fuse.  In his own mind, his powers of speech are so tremendous that thought and deed are inseparable.

Taking away Obama’s belief in his own mystical powers, Reagan has proven that speech can change people’s behaviors.  There is tremendous power in making a moral speech at a pivotal time.  That was what Sharansky was saying about Reagan’s mere words:  when you live in a corrupt society that forces people to accept as true things their own senses tell them are false, having someone “call a spade a spade” is, in fact, the equivalent of letting there be light.  Speaking truth to evil shines a light on that evil and lets oppressed people believe in themselves and their cause.

The importance of speaking truth to evil is incalculable.  For people who have no tangible weapons, their only weapon is their belief in the truth.  Without that, they are simply so many targets for well-armed totalitarian regime.

What this means is that Obama, though his silence is in fact meddling, because he’s taking sides.  Without creating a light of freedom to shine the way for Iran’s oppressed masses, he is casting his (and America’s) whole weight on the side with the guns.  There is no middle ground here.  You’re either for freedom or you’re against it, and if you refuse to raise your voice for freedom, you’ve loaded another bullet in the oppressor’s gun.

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  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    The lines are clear: on one side are unarmed citizens demanding that their rulers reconcile their pseudo-democratic rhetoric with actual democratic acts; on the other side are guns.

    And the guns win, unless the people wielding them lack the will to use them.

    Btw, you forgot Jimmy Carter’s support of Khomeini in ousting the last Shah of Iran, a Western reformer who had priorities in security against Soviet invasion. That was certainly meddling, because Carter had no right to make Iran into a theocracy. But Carter thinks he does. That’s the problem. Carter thinks a lot shat load of things about what he has the right and power to do. And the Presidency, at least, gave him that power.

    The Shah of Iran could have executed Khomeini, his supporters, and locked his nation down. But he wanted freedom and democracy. And that destroyed everything, because there is no democracy without security guarantees. There is no First Amendment without the Second Amendment’s pile of bodies going up to the moon, Book. There is no life, without death. No joy without suffering.

    The Shah of Iran was not willing to execute people in the streets for protesting. Khomeini and the Ayatollahs were. Guess who won in the end. And guess who had the bigger firepower in the contest between the Shah and Khomeini? The Shah had armies at his back, security apparatuses, secret police even, but he wasn’t willing to use em. Scratch that for “firepower is the only thing that matters”, heh.

  • Charles Martel

    How long, Lord, how long before there are enough six year olds yelling from the crowd, “He has no clothes! The emperor has no clothes!”

  • Zhombre

    Reagan was leader of the free world. Obama is a politician who got elected President.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    “He has no clothes! The emperor has no clothes!”

    That’s not it though. It is not that he has no clothes, it is that we can see his suicide vest without his clothes.

    That’s the thing, Charles. And we’re going to be the ones that get perforated by metal balls and shrapnel, cause we’re all in this one big moofing crowd that Obama is in the center of.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Well, Zhombre, that about sums it up in two sentences.

  • Zhombre

    Terse is good. Terse works. Always.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    WELL DONE, Zhombre!!

    That says it all for me — I was just writing to my brother about how much I miss the Gipper. We need a real man and a real leader – and we have neither.

    You summed it up SO well.


    Charles…look quickly, he dropped the shoe or was it the heel of his boot on the head of one of his ‘loyals’.

    By Bill Dedman
    Investigative reporter
    updated 4:54 p.m. ET, Tues., June 16, 2009

    Msnbc.com investigative reporter Bill Dedman
    Bill Dedman
    Investigative reporter

    The Obama administration is fighting to block access to names of visitors to the White House, taking up the Bush administration argument that a president doesn’t have to reveal who comes calling to influence policy decisions.

    Despite President Barack Obama’s pledge to introduce a new era of transparency to Washington, and despite two rulings by a federal judge that the records are public, the Secret Service has denied msnbc.com’s request for the names of all White House visitors from Jan. 20 to the present. It also denied a narrower request by the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which sought logs of visits by executives of coal companies.

  • Charles Martel

    I get sudden seizures of hope when I think that Obama is betraying or alienating one fan club of his after another. Surely, I think to myself, he will eventually run out of people to disappoint or lie to?

    Then I remember how women who are beaten by their husbands or boyfriends typically think. “He’s so handsome, and very loving when he’s not distracted—that’s why I fell for him. Sure, sometimes he hits me, but he has so many burdens to carry that I think I sometimes goad him into doing it with my neediness. When we have make-up sex, it’s the best ever. He whispers into my ear only the way he can, and suddenly I’m a schoolgirl again, ready to be swept off my feet.”

    If you start substituting the term “abused woman” for any of the leftist groups that Obama is throwing under the bus, it will keep you from becoming overly optimistic about the chances that any of those people are going to wise up/ball up anytime soon and stop with the Kool-Aid.

  • Danny Lemieux

    While I anticipate with dread the unfolding of one more grand betrayal of another people somewhere in the world by a Democrat President (and the second time around for the Iranians), I confess to a certain ambivalence about this.

    Many of these same people around the globe that are outraged today about what is happening in Iran absolutely vilified George W. Bush and the Pax Americana for which he stood when Bush actually acted against outrages. He, of course, did stand up for the oppressed and he was despised for it…by Iranians, too. But, GW Bush is gone now and we are rapidly sliding into a post-America era, wherein our country pretty seems pretty well focused on destroying its economy and way of life, reading Miranda Rights to battlefield combatants, and coddling up to the most vicious of dictators like a battered woman to her abuser, sending terrorists on taxpayer-funded jaunts to tropical paradises about which most Americans can only dream, and hoping that he can get them all to act nice in kind and work collectively toward a new Obamatopian vision of how the world should be.

    I don’t understand the fuss about Obama’s lack of action on Iran – he made it very clear where he stood early in his campaign. He is acting true to form, voting “present” at every moral crossroad. This is the new America, disengaged from the world and any semblance of a higher moral order. But, this is what many in our country and most people around the world wanted. They should have been careful of what they wished for.

    I really, really feel sorry for the Iranians rioting in the streets and looking to us for a word of encouragement. I really fear that we won’t be there for them. Our government, you see, really doesn’t care…any more than Bill Clinton cared when Rwandans were put to the machete. This is the new vision of post-modern American. Ain’t it grand. I feel ashamed of what we are becoming and can only add my voice to all of us here who shout “stop” against the wind. I know this sounds cynical, but we need to let this play out under the new rules. In the meantime, we like-minded people on this blog need to resist, voice our outrage and believe that some time some day in the future, we can fix this…one person at a time. Perhaps someday someone somewhere will remember that we did speak out when nobody else did. I can live with that.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Funny, I noticed that Charles posted at the same time as me and we both referenced the “Battered Woman Syndrome”. We must be onto something.


    Sitting here wondering if the Iranians are (30 years later) suffering from ‘buyers remorse’ and if they are blaming their elders/parents/others for throwing out the baby with the bath water in 1979. As the adage goes, ‘be careful what you wish for, you might get it’.

    What is just as interesting is that I have yet to hear a single word, phrase, comment from the Arab world.

    Hmmm…something in common with our leader?

  • Mike Devx

    Book said:
    >> Here, Obama is not being asked to do anything, he is just being asked to say something. As we’ve noted before, though, Obama believes his words are the equivalent of acts. […] In his own mind, his powers of speech are so tremendous that thought and deed are inseparable.

    Don’t mean to beat my own horn, but I had exactly the same impression when I compared what Reagan said to what Obama said. Obama is so desperately frightened that he will say the wrong thing, that he says nothing at all. He goes utterly milquetoast and totally worthless when placed under the slightest pressure.

    This is because he believes his own words are of near-inexpressible holiness and power. His egocentrism knows no bounds. A Glorious Being Of Such Importance must never utter incorrect words, because the Whole World is hanging upon his every syllable, and the repercussions of the mistake happen within hours.

    Look, Reagan gave those immortal words in 1983, and for all of Sharansky’s memories, it wasn’t until 1989 that the truly significant reverberations had their effect. Reagan knew the importance of speech and words, but he did not make Obama’s mistake. He knew that he could speak significantly in defense of freedom, love, and liberty, and the world would not end.

    Obama The Pipsqueak Who Thinks He Casts A Mountain Of A Shadow needs to learn a lesson or two.

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    It seems like a logical place to share Caroline Glick’s take on the Cairo speech, N. Korea, Iran and oh yeah, Obama.


  • suek

    “To be moved by rational argument, a person has to be open to rational discourse”

    Very wise statement.

    Very good article. She’s right about pretty much everything she says.

    I thought this statement was particularly observant:

    “…his[Obama’s] nonreaction to the fraudulent Iranian election shows that he will not allow facts to interfere with his slavish devotion to his ideological canon that claims that no enemy is unappeasable and no ally deserves automatic support.”

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