Goodbye Blackberry

By Rufus Foshee | Aug 22, 2009

It seems unlikely that President Obama had the telephone number of an unknown police sergeant in Boston programmed into his Blackberry. This means that those on his staff had to have assisted in his getting that sergeant on the telephone, a really stupid thing for any president to have done.

This is not a question of a black and a white; it is not about color. Under any circumstances such a telephone call was highly inappropriate for the president to have made. Just think how many pressing issues have been on the president's desk that he and those who propose to advise him are not taking care of very well, if at all.

When the flak was about last winter, as to whether the president should have a cell phone, the argument against it was that it was for the president's security. What was not said was "... not having a cell phone would be security against his own poor judgment."

The day that the president made that unwise call, millions of Americans were denied their unemployment checks because of no money in state tills to pay them. That sergeant and his superiors in Boston are very capable of taking care of themselves, and certainly Henry Louis Gates Jr. is more than capable of taking care of himself. He is getting a bonus in turning this escapade into a film. Guess who the star is going to be?

The president has been in office now long enough that an astute observer begins to see a pattern of less than attractive or diplomatic behavior. Obama has a penchant for thinking that he is all things to
all people.

Less than two months in office, on March 4, Obama sent Russian President Dmitry Medvedev a secret letter asking that he help the United States persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear program. It would have been bad enough if that were all. A little blackmail was offered to Russia if they would cooperate; the United States would back off throwing up the missile shield in Eastern Europe as a return favor.

Some call this act of violent diplomacy resetting the button with Russia. According to the New York Times, March 3, the essence of the letter was, "... the proposed missile defense system would not be
necessary if Moscow could help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons and nuclear warheads."

Russia's response came the day after Obama's letter. As reported in the New York Times March 4, President Dmitry Medvedev offered a measured response, saying that "... the Kremlin was 'working very closely with our U.S. colleagues on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program,' but not in the context of the American missile defense plan."

Was this not subtle, if plain? Most might agree that any American president with any savvy on foreign policy would have known to just stop there and send another secret letter saying, "I gotcha."

But no. In Geneva on March 6, Secretary of State Clinton labored the issue more creating a situation that might have been more embarrassing than amusing in the hands of a less well seasoned trooper than Clinton. She presented Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov with a reset button with the word "peregruzka," which she thought meant reset. The minister quickly reminded her that she had it wrong, saying, "You got it wrong. It should be 'perezagryuzka.' This says, 'peregruzka,' which means 'overcharged.'" The room broke out in laughter.

It is past time for the president to get serious. Happy hour is over; it is headache time and for a very long stretch. There have been too many photo ops under the pretense of public interest that have been nothing less than distractions from serious business not going well. Does the public need to know more about the Victory Garden on the White House lawn, Michelle's clothes, or the presidential dog?

With all the branches of security that surround the president, perhaps there is just one person who will be assigned to censor all Blackberry calls before they go out. That way perhaps phones will not be ringing in strange places to shock those who never would have imagined getting a call from the president of the United States. If things are so out of hand as they now appear, let's hope there is no button on that Blackberry for the hot button.

By getting serious one means that it is time that lines be drawn as to what is presidential and what is cute or intended to get another headline. I expect I am not the only person who can construct very broad headlines that would fall into place were there to be news of more jobs and less unemployment, money for the unemployed to cash their checks, some stern handle on Israel's behavior, to mention only
a few issues that would generate at least as broad a headline as whether the president's oldest daughter wears lipstick.

One may look at Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' call on Israel's prime minister as well as its foreign minister on July 26 as serious. Indeed it is. Many insist that it is, if anything, a direct nod to Israel that it is OK to attack Iran. In addition both Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton have chimed in with remarks that it is the right of Israel to protect itself against threats. Very serious business this. It is well to remember that the last time Iran was attacked it was by Iraq with complete U.S. support.

Just what might those four top American officials, Obama, Biden, Clinton and Gates, imagine would be the result of Israel's attacking Iran? Do they believe that should so unwise a move take place that the rest of the world is going to sit by and watch it happen as Secretary Rice chose to watch Lebanon burn? Do they?

Do any of us imagine just what a third world war might look like? But might most agree that the quickest way to light that fire is for Israel to attack Iran?

Is it then unreasonable to think that the gas in the top tanks of American government is tainted in giving Israel any approval signals for attacking anyone until they have been attacked?

The thought of Israel attacking Iran can only be classified by any reasoning person to be international suicide. Who believes that China and Russia, to mention no others, are going to fold their tents after watching Israel attack Iran?

In the Israeli daily Haaretz, Yossi Melman wrote recently, "No decision to attack Iran has been made in Israel. Certainly no date has been fixed. Israel will decide, if at all, to disrupt Iran's nuclear program only as a last resort after international diplomacy fails. More importantly, such a decision will be taken only after serious consultation with the American administration. Coordinating its actions with America is the key factor in all Israeli crucial decisions. This has been the Israeli practice since 1967."

Melman's specialties are intelligence, security, terrorism and strategy. If he is correct, does this seem to square with Secretary Gates arriving in Israel on July 16?
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