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A president's word

Op-ed: Obama knows if he fails to keep his promise on Iran he will be tossed into trash can of history

Barack Obama was born from words. In 2004 he was elected to the US Senate for the state of Illinois and was still unknown on the national level. John Kerry, the democratic presidential hopeful, asked him to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. The rumor about Obama's rhetorical abilities had already circulated among the party's leaders, and he was also perceived as a person who could help recruit black people in the election campaign.

 

The national channels failed to cover the address as he was still an unknown figure, and it was broadcast on local TV. That's when the major buzz began among journalists and broadcasters about a new star that had been born. The video of Obama's performance became a hit on national news programs and everyone spoke about the next big thing in politics. These rhetorical skills helped him close the gap in the polls with Hillary Clinton in Democratic Party presidential primaries and defeat experienced Republican McCain with the glorious military career.

 

A great speech requires great words. The keywords are "change," "hope," "a better future." For democratic politicians there are of course the words which represent their worldview: "Peace," "democracy," "human rights." Presidency is not a debate club in Harvard. The person holding the highest position in the American nation is also required to perform.

 

This is the booby trap Obama has fallen into more than once – the gap between words and performance. His first term as president began with a huge speech in Cairo, in which he declared the start of the era of peace in the Middle East. Since then, the sounds of fire in the region's countries have not ceased. He promised to end the American army's involvement in Iraq, which took years, and to withdraw the soldiers from Afghanistan. Their number there has only increased ever since.

 

American public still trusts him

Obama declared in his speeches that he would shut down the Guantanamo detention facility. He realized that an al-Qaeda attack on Americans may shut down his presidency. He promised to take military action against Syria if it used chemical weapons. He delivered another big speech about giving diplomacy another chance.

 

What does this say about Obama's presidency? Is he a great speaker but a small statesman whose word cannot be trusted, as Netanyahu rushed to imply? I'm not so sure. Obama is doing the things, but slower than the speed of his punch lines. The US Army is in the stages of pulling out from Iraq and Afghanistan, Secretary of State John Kerry brought about the start of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and Obama reached an agreement with Putin to strip Syria of its chemical weapons.

 

Commentators may have lost their faith in Obama, but the American public still trusts him. Despite the great economic crisis before the 2012 elections, he was re-elected as president. That wasn’t obvious. Jimmy Carter lost his presidency in 1980 following the Iranian students' takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran, and George H. W. Bush lost in 1992 because of the economic situation.

 

The politician Obama admires the most is President Abraham Lincoln, who wrote: "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me." Perhaps Obama has realized that he doesn’t control events either, however he knows that if he fails to manage those events forced on him, including his promise that Iran will not have a nuclear weapon, he will be tossed into the trash can of history.

 

 


פרסום ראשון: 09.16.13, 20:00
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