The distinguished scholar and author Fouad
Ajami has graced the pages of The Wall Street
Journal recently with a most important column
titled, "Barack Obama the Pessimist."
Mr. Ajami notes that President Obama effectively
denied American Exceptionalism from the earliest
days of his administration. He told reporters
in Strasbourg in April 2009 that "I believe
in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect
that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism
and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."
It was an interesting formulation, Mr. Ajami
notes, pointing to President Obama's "break
with the history of America's faith in liberty
in distant lands." Ajami shows how President
Obama abandoned the Iranian pro-democracy forces
when they rose up against the Mullahs who rule
the world's leading sponsor of terrorism.
Fouad Ajami contrasted Obama's pessimism with
Ronald Reagan's essentially optimistic nature.
"His faith in America [was] boundless ...
[and in Eastern Europe] the captive nations
were never in doubt; American power was on the
side of liberty."
We can find the roots of Obama's pessimism even
earlier in his administration than the Strasbourg
Denial. We can look to the third day of his
tenure, Jan. 23, 2009. That day, he issued a
lethal Executive Order rescinding the Reagan-era
Mexico City Policy. As ABC News' Jake Tapper
noted then, Obama's order was intended to "elate
pro-abortion groups." It certainly did.
The prospect of sluicing billions of U.S. tax
dollars to abortion traffickers like International
Planned Parenthood Federation surely sent a
thrill down the legs of these advocates.
What must the people in the Third World have
thought of this action? In Africa, as Kenya's
Dr. Margaret Ogola has eloquently stated, too
many villages lack clean water with which to
wash down abortifacients and pills like RU-486
that kill the child in the womb. Many of these
native peoples are not as sophisticated as their
pro-choice American "helpers" are.
They still welcome children. They still think
of human life as a blessing.
So did Ronald Reagan. His Mexico City Doctrine
was more than simply a cutoff of funds to those
who push or do abortions around the world. The
Reagan Mexico City Doctrine spoke to the dreams
of millions that children should be "welcomed
in life and protected in law." Reagan viewed
human creativity and energy as the fount of
development, liberty and hope. That's what gave
him his essentially optimistic world view.
Liberal journalists had a hard time figuring
out Reagan. They agreed with Clark Clifford's
memorable put-down. The Democratic Party's Wise
Man, Clifford met Reagan in the White House
and ran back to the Georgetown cocktail party
circuit, labeling him "an amiable dunce."
When a journalist asked Reagan why so many Americans
loved him, he answered succinctly: "They
know I love them."
When Reagan sought to protect those who live
in what John F. Kennedy memorably called "the
huts and villages of half the world," they,
too, sensed his love and his optimism. In his
Farewell Address to the American people, Reagan
pointed to an incident in the South China Sea.
There, a crowded, leaking boat filled with Vietnamese
refugees was rescued by sailors from the USS
Midway. One of the boat people called out to
the young sailors in the launch as it approached
their vessel: "Hey, American sailor. Hey,
In standing with those captive peoples across
the world who yearned to breathe free, in proclaiming
his Mexico City Doctrine that told them they
and their children were valued by America, Ronald
Reagan was an optimist. He was that Freedom
Barack Obama braved scorching liberal critics
when he called Reagan's presidency "transformational."
He said Reagan had changed America in ways that
Bill Clinton's two terms did not.
But when he won the White House, when he had
the power to transform, Barack Obama tragically
revoked Reagan's Mexico City Policy. President
Obama, on his third day in office, embraced
and imbursed the global Culture of Death. He
followed in Bill Clinton's footsteps.
We may call this portentous move President Obama's
own Gran Rifuto — his great refusal to say yes
to life, to say yes to new hope.
No wonder America is going broke. And no wonder
the hopes for change Barack Obama so admirably
evoked are broken. CV
Robert Morrison is senior fellow for policy
studies at the Family Research Council