Skip to main content

Obama comes nowhere near emulating Mandela

Obama has always declared that Nelson Mandela is someone has sought to emulate.    In fact, Obama is presently in South Africa, although because of the failing health of Mandela Obama won't be meeting the 94 year old warrior and political giant.

In this piece on Mondoweiss Mark Ellis says, with examples, that Obama can't hold a candle to Mandela, let alone to be seen to have emulated him.

"It isn’t every day that a visit by the President of the United States to an African country is upstaged, especially America’s first African American President. In South Africa this is exactly what’s happening and for good reason.

The main reason is that the founding father of the new South Africa, Nelson Mandela, is in his last days. There’s more.

As Mandela’s life and Barack Obama’s political life comes to closure comparisons are inevitable. Obama cut his political teeth on Mandela and South Africa’s anti-Apartheid struggle. He reveres Mandela as a driving force in his life.

Reverence is one thing. Emulation is another. The sincerest way of revering another is to embody their example in your own life.

Reverence for another is acting in ways that befit the one you revere. If emulation becomes rhetorical imitation then reverence becomes trivial. Heroes become kitsch.

Obama’s reverence for Mandela has failed on every count. On the American domestic scene, Obama has accomplishments to point to but his approach has been weak, unfocused and so compromised that his legacy will be seen as the lesser of (John McCain and Mitt Romney) evils. In foreign policy, Obama has been more talk than show. Especially in military and security matters, he has carried on the policies of his (George Bush) predecessor.

Being ranked above those three is better than being ranked below them. If ‘below them’ is possible.

On apartheid, Obama’s challenge has been Israel and Palestine. Here Obama has failed miserably. He hasn’t even shown a false bravado.

In the darkest days of apartheid, Nelson Mandela never wavered. He didn’t pander or engage in couples therapy as John Kerry is doing under Obama’s direction. Nor would Mandela have spoken in Israel and Palestine the way Obama did in his last travels there.

Obama was on his knees in Israel. John Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy wants Palestinians to do the same.

Is Obama’s failure to reach Mandela’s eminence simply a difference in context and generation? No doubt this plays a part. But the deeper issue lay elsewhere. Mandela knew himself, had a purpose and struggled for it. When he suffered, he had a deep reservoir of commitment from which to draw. This combination made Mandela great. This is exactly what Obama lacks.

Will Obama find himself in his post-Presidential life when the trappings of power fall away and his African American reality – and its limitations - comes to the fore once again? Perhaps.

The sad reality is that Mandela’s last days are being played out against the backdrop of a visit by a President who, failing others, more than anything failed himself."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Wake Up"

The message is loud and clear....and as you watch this, remember that it was on Israeli TV - not some anti-semitic or anti-Israel program somewhere in the world.


Look where Steve Jobs' father came from.....

MPS isn't a great fan of Thomas Friedman, who writes for The New York Times.

His latest column "Connecting Trump’s Dots" excoriates Trump - and he makes out a strong case.   Not that that is all that hard! 

At the conclusion of his column Friedman writes....

"Trump wants to partner with Vladimir Putin to defeat ISIS in Syria — a worthy goal. But Putin hasn’t been trying to defeat ISIS. He’s been trying to defeat democracy in Syria to keep the genocidal pro-Russian dictator there in power.

Will that be our goal, too? And who are Putin’s allies in Syria? Iran, Hezbollah and Shiite mercenaries from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Will they be our allies, too? No. We will enlist Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis to help us, says Trump. Really? But he just barred them from entering the U.S. How cooperative will they be?

And whom else might this ban keep out? Remember Steve Jobs? His biological father was Abdulfattah “John” Jandali. He came to America as a student in the 1950s and studied at…

Trump gives Aussies the flick!

There is simply no stopping Trump - and to think he will be in office for another 4 years!   The latest outrage is discussed by Roger Cohen in his op-ed piece "United States to Australia: Get Lost"  in The New York Times.

"Let’s imagine for a moment Rex Tillerson, the newly installed secretary of state, awakening to this tweet from President Trump about an important American ally:

“Do you believe it? The Obama administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”

First, the “illegal immigrants” are in fact desperate people fleeing conflict whose status as refugees has in most cases been officially recognized. Second, as refugees, they have the right, under the Geneva Conventions, of which the United States is a signatory, to be treated “without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin.” Third, the “thousands” are in fact about 1,250 of the 2,500 men, women and children who, for more than three years…