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Opinion: Columnists

Man of the world

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Photo - President Barack Obama waves as he arrives on Air Force One at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in New York.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama waves as he arrives on Air Force One at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

In 2007 and 2008, Barack Obama ran for president as a world citizen, multiracial and multicultural, created by nature and the Almighty to bring healing and peace to the world.

Muslims, Andrew Sullivan said, would see in his face a different America: "A brown-skinned man whose father was an African ... who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama's face gets close."

Flash forward to 2012, and his brown face is being incinerated in effigy on several continents, while mobs of hysterical Muslims shout death to his African name. George W. Bush never saw such an outbreak of fury. If an Iraqi once threw a shoe at President Bush, this is an entire store full of footwear. The man of the world found the world turned against him. What in the world had gone wrong?

What could and did was foretold in his 2008 speech in Berlin, when he told the hysterical crowds in attendance that the Wall had come down when (and because) "the world stood as one." But the world was never as one, then or ever: The world was as two, and the Wall had come down because one world (that led by the United States and the Atlantic Alliance) had, through force, threats of force and several hair-raising near-clashes, forced the communist world to its knees.

It was in the failure of this man of the world to embrace his role as the leader of one part of the world against the more dangerous other that the seeds of his failure were planted. Instead of raising the West, he has tried to merge the two sides and make them seem equal, stressing the flaws of the West and its allies, not taking democracy's side.

From the start, he went out of his way to stiff the democracies, dissing the Anglo-American alliance, returning a bust of Winston S. Churchill to sender, giving a DVD of his speeches as a most thoughtful gift to the Queen. He dissed the Poles when they felt under threat from the Russians, treated the Israelis as the moral equivalents of the people who threaten them and pulled out of Iraq before the training wheels were off of the bicycle, endangering those who helped us get rid of al Qaeda and putting their lives there at risk.

Most of all, he gave the back of his hand to the Iranian dissidents in 2009 who came so close to deposing their leaders, trusting instead in his mythical powers to coax the fanatics in power to reason. Now that he's failed -- and who could have guessed it? -- his refusal to stand with Israel in the face of Iran's threats to destroy it make a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran that much more likely. And when violence broke out on Sept. 11, Obama's response was to arrest an American citizen who had made a tacky film about Muslims, not much worse than those made about Catholics by many Americans, transgressing the man's constitutional right to free speech.

Disliked and distrusted by those in his world, he isn't respected by those in the other, who express their contempt without reservation. A "Barack Obama" with his name and his skin who was in his heart more like Reagan or Kennedy might have won these worlds over.

He wasn't. He didn't. He had his chance, and he blew it. And now he should go.

Examiner Columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to TheWeekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."

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