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America in Retweet?
Eliot A. Cohen on Our Twittering Politicos in the WSJ

Eliot A. Cohen, a board member here at The American Interest, condemns the “teenage temperament” of the current Administration in the Wall Street Journal:

If the United States today looks weak, hesitant and in retreat, it is in part because its leaders and their staff do not carry themselves like adults. They may be charming, bright and attractive; they may have the best of intentions; but they do not look serious. They act as though Twitter and clenched teeth or a pout could stop invasions or rescue kidnapped children in Nigeria. They do not sound as if, when saying that some outrage is “unacceptable” or that a dictator “must go,” that they represent a government capable of doing something substantial—and, if necessary, violent—if its expectations are not met. And when reality, as it so often does, gets in the way—when, for example, the Syrian regime begins dousing its opponents with chlorine gas, as it has in recent weeks, despite solemn deals and red lines—the administration ignores it, hoping, as teenagers often do, that if they do not acknowledge a screw-up no one else will notice.

The Obama administration is not alone. The teenage temperament infects our politics on both sides of the aisle, not to mention our great universities and leading corporations. The old, adult virtues—gravitas, sobriety, perseverance and constancy—are the virtues that enabled America to stabilize a shattered world in the 1940s, preserve a perilous order despite the Cold War and navigate the conclusion of that conflict. These and other stoic qualities are worth rediscovering, because their dearth among our leaders is leading them, and us and large parts of the globe, into real danger.

Read the whole thing. Mr. Cohen also contributed to our recent symposium, “America Self-Contained?”, where he discussed the Obama Administration’s “parade of errors” in foreign policy. For the whole article, go here.

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  • Breif2

    “The Obama crowd too often responds to critics and to world affairs like self-absorbed adolescents”

    Well of course. “We’re the ones we’ve been waiting for,” after all. We have not the time for anything else.

    • Andrew Allison

      Regrettably, given that it’s the first let by a so-called ” Black” President*, this administration will go down in history as not just the most divisive, or the most regardless of the Constitution, but for the complete and utter ineptitude of its foreign policy.
      * the Black population of the USA came from West Africa a couple centuries ago, and identifying the child of an American and a native East African as Black in the sense that it is understood in the USA is a stretch based purely on pigmentation.

      • rheddles

        The second reconstruction will be seen as even less effective than the first. Some should consider what followed the first as they plan for the future.

      • Corlyss

        Yeah, well, the name they want to call themselves has gone thru an “evolution” in an etymological sense. They didn’t like “Negro” or “colored” I guess because they didn’t think it up. In the 60s they came up with “black” in order to remind light-skinned Negroes, who fared better in society than darker-skinned Negroes did, that they still had enough Negro blood to make them just as disadvantaged as the blackest of them. Then they decided they didn’t like “black” so they adopted African American, which is an aggrandizement of the former and an insult to the latter in addition to being patently inapt for people whose ancestors came here 300 years ago – if they ain’t American, period, by now, they ain’t nothin’. ‘Tis a pity that hyphenated origin tags are still in use but politicos love to slice and dice the voters based on some ethnic allegiance that may or may not exist. As for blacks, I do not capitalize it and, like GHW Bush, I changed my mind once when they selected “black” and I refuse to change my mind again. I will follow Whoopi Goldberg’s decision when she announced that she’d been to Africa and she was an American, i.e., she weren’t no African-American.

  • Anthony

    Gravitas, sobriety, perseverance, and constancy (words once to live by) where have thou gone – and can thou regain prominence in world of twitter, facebook, instagram, social media, etc. “Everything good in man leans on what is higher.” (Emerson)

    • Andrew Allison

      Assuming, for the sake of argument, that anybody with “Gravitas, sobriety, perseverance, and constancy” would stoop twittering on social media, wouldn’t their output reflect that?

  • qet

    A nation gets the leaders it deserves. The current leadership is simply a reflection of the prevailing adolescent political ethos in this country. Remember that even among Democrats and the Left, the adolescent Obama wing first had to overthrow the “adult” Clinton wing during the primaries. Funny how the media Olympians of the Left (Dowd, Krugman, Friedman, Dionne, Cohen, Milbank, Klein, Yglesias, Maddow, Walsh, &c) always pretend that dogfight never happened. You think President Hillary would have been so foolish as to cram down the gullet of America an ill-conceived and even more ill-executed health care fiasco, or appoint the likes of Susan Rice and Samantha “Name Them and Shame Them” Power to important posts? I have heard it said that if 4 million more GOP voters who turned out in 2008 had turned out in 2012, had simply troubled themselves to go to the polls that day, Romney would have won. If people can’t be bothered to vote once in every 4 years then they, and we, deserve our present Administration.

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