As President of the United States, it is not overly difficult to be liked, if that is what you want. The way you do that is to tell people what they want to hear. Tell the world that the United States has been arrogant and uncaring and has made lots of mistakes and is responsible for lots of the world’s most serious problems, but that you are going to change all that. Tell the Iranians that you are repudiating the prior administration’s posture toward them, and that they are not part of the Axis of Evil, and that you are going to reach out and build a "bridge" to them, even if their leader says that America is the enemy, Israel should be destroyed, and is working on a nuclear bomb to make good on that threat; tell the Russians that you are repudiating the prior administration’s policy toward them, that you want to "reset" your relationship with them, and that you will be willing to dismantle your missile defenses even though those defenses relate to possible attacks from other sources (like Iran), and even though Russia herself has shown a historic and recent willingness to invade neighbors; tell the Muslims that the prior administration was wrong to wage a war against Islam and that you want to build a bridge instead, even though the prior administration’s war was not against Islam or Muslims but against terrorists, and that "war" has succeeded in protecting the United States from any terrorist attack since 9/11, has helped other countries foil potentially devastating attacks and has freed two countries — Iraq and Afghanistan — from brutal and bloody subjugation to dictators and murderous religious fanatics. In fact, in your effort to distance yourself from your predecessor and to curry favor with the world, you even go so far as to tell everyone that there is no "war on terror" and that there are no acts of terror, only "man made disasters," as if 9/11 was the result of some sort of weather disorder or earthquake.
And not only do you articulate a world view that says that the United States, as the root cause of so much ill in the world, will no longer seek to protect democratic and humanitarian values that are threatened by terrorists and dictators — unless or until those dictators and terrorists actually show up on our shores and we can prove that they have caused a man-made disaster on our soil by evidence adduced in a court of law — but you take concrete steps to show that you mean business in diminishing America’s influence and authority as the primary world power. You bow deeply when you meet an Arab potentate, you plead with Holocaust deniers in Iran to meet with you on your "bridge," you say that the North Koreans acted badly by testing a missile capable of delivering a nuclear bomb but you do not take an action with any teeth to sanction or punish the North Koreans for that egregious act. You even go so far as to suggest that the United States and Harry Truman were wrong for dropping the bomb on Hiroshima in a speech to Europeans, which suggests that we shouldn’t feel free to criticize any foreign efforts to develop nuclear capacity since we are the only country to ever actually use an atomic weapon on another country. And you appoint to critical positions — the UN ambassadorship and intelligence agencies — people who share your views and are prepared to compromise and bend to foreign will so as to avoid taking the difficult and costly actions necessary to ensure long term peace, stability, and democratic values. You appoint as director of Homeland Security — the person most responsible for protecting us from another terrorist attack — a woman who won’t even use the word "terror" or "terrorism" and who apparently believes the biggest threat against us is from rightwing extremists among returning Iraq and Afghanistan vets.
And you say and do all these things because you believe that they will gain for you and the United States some sort of "moral authority" that will be a superior substitute for power in dealing with terrorists and the countries that protect and finance them. You will achieve for the United States peace, freedom, and prosperity by having rational dialogue with those who would seek to do evil against the United States and other civilized countries because, through these admissions of wrongdoing and expressions of remorse, you will have cast off the trappings of the hated Bush-Cheney Administration and will have achieved a "moral authority" that the rest of world will now listen to, and that the murderers and killers will have no choice but to heed.
One more thing: you set the stage for investigations and prosecutions of the brave men and women who, in the days following 9/11, sought to procure intelligence to protect us against another attack, and you also call for investigations and possible prosecutions of the lawyers who analyzed the constitutional and other underpinnings for the interrogation methods those intelligence officers used. And at the same time you are doing that, you go to the intelligence agencies themselves and tell them that disclosing the wrong things they did is the only way to learn from them, as if they were a group of fourth graders.
This is the agenda President Obama is pursuing. These are the words he is using. These are the people he is appointing. These are the actions he is taking. The problem is that while he may be making himself popular, nowhere is that popularity greater than among the people who wish to do ill to us. Like Reverend Wright, Obama believes that the U.S. is what is wrong with the world. For this, he apologizes. Let’s see if al Qaeda and the countries that support and finance it accept that apology and work rationally with us to make a better world. History teaches, all too painfully, that that will not happen. History teaches that but for the U.S. and its singular commitment to protect democratic, civilized values, the world would long ago have been overrun by murderers and tyrants. It’s too bad Obama didn’t seek to remind the world of those lessons of history.