Opinion: Obama off to Prague to not talk U.S. jobs once more
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Things are so bad for President Obama these days that he’s packing his bags after work today and taking off for Prague.
Not exactly a typical spring break getaway. But after a hot shower aboard Air Force One and a good sleep in the suite with the electric window-shades so no presidential wrist need be turned, there’s a private meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. And this new arms reduction treaty the Democrat so desperately wants to sign with him.
Over dinner then, Obama hopes to reassure Eastern European countries that the U.S. is really truly still on their side of freedom and defense, even though it’s signing what is actually a pretty modest agreement with the core of the old Soviet empire without a word about human rights.
Ah-hah, you say, but what does this have to do with the domestic U.S. economy and....
...creating new jobs that were supposed to start coming online last year with the $787 billion stimulus bill that Obama took on that same Air Force One all the way to Denver to sign?
Answer: Absolutely nothing. Just like the healthcare debate. Obama did a jobs town hall only the other day. What else do you want?
The new arms treaty replaces the expired START I treaty of 1991, reinstates bilateral inspection and verification and reduces the countries’ nuclear arsenal to 1,550 deployed warheads. In other words, instead of enough nuclear weapons to obliterate this delicate blue planet a gazillion times, in theory we’ll be able to erase the place only a bajillion times.
This all makes eminent sense within the arcane, convoluted logic of diplomacy, prompting nodded heads, much self-congratulation and champagne-sipping from ridiculously thin glasses. Swell images of proclaimed progress to send home in advance of the 47-nation nuclear summit in D.C. next week.
Does this treaty do anything at all about, say, Iran’s nuclear program or the weapons plan developing under the loopy guidance of that tiny North Korean fellow with the Carol Channing glasses?
Well, no, not actually.
Now, remember last fall when Obama unilaterally altered the Bush-planned anti-missile defense systems for Eastern Europe in hopes of encouraging the Russians to pressure Iran? Didn’t work.
Not yet anyway.
So we gave that up and got little in return, except growing regional unease among Europeans with memories of iron Soviet rule that run back before the birth of the more trusting Obama.
These Europeans see preoccupied Americans resetting their relationship with Russia with little concern for the folks who agreed to the missile sites we wanted before but now find expendable given grumbles from Russia next door.
Obama gets a glitzy arms agreement that the folks back home didn’t know they wanted. And the Russians, who invaded Georgia with impunity during Obama’s 2008 Hawaii vacation, don’t have to find the money they didn’t have to support the larger arsenal they don’t need and would likely have to scrap anyway. And Russia remains free to pursue the big arms deals with India and Venezuela.
Iran and North Korea can keep on keeping on. And the official American unemployment rate remains at 9.7% nationally, closer to 20% counting those who’ve given up job hunts.
One other thing. No, two, actually. Another American president named Woodrow Wilson -- coincidentally also a Democrat and also a former college prof -- went off to Europe about 90 years ago to sign an historic treaty ending World War I and establishing the League of Nations.
Wilson was excited about the international deal and, of course, knew going in that all new treaties take a two-thirds-plus-one ratification by the U.S. Senate. He didn’t get it, primarily due to varying visions of this country’s future by Republicans, who controlled the Senate then. Obama’s party controls the Senate for now, but six seats shy of the treaty-affirming 66.
The second thing is: While the president is off in that old Prague castle not addressing domestic jobs, a new CNN/Opinion Research Poll finds disquiet back home among 953 registered voters. They were asked: ‘How well are things going in the country today?’
Not quite one-in-three said Fairly or Very Well. The other 67% said Very or Pretty Badly.
The chance for them to vote on so much more than the treaty comes Nov. 2.
-- Andrew Malcolm