April 29, 2010
A Stranger in Our Midst
By Robert Weissberg
As the Obama administration enters its second year, I — and undoubtedly millions of others — have struggled to develop a shorthand term that captures our emotional unease. Defining this discomfort is tricky. I reject nearly the entire Obama agenda, but the term “being opposed” lacks an emotional punch. Nor do terms like “worried” or “anxious” apply. I was more worried about America’s future during the Johnson or Carter years, so it’s not that dictionary, either. Nor, for that matter, is this about backroom odious deal-making and pork, which are endemic in American politics.
After auditioning countless political terms, I finally realized that the Obama administration and its congressional collaborators almost resemble a foreign occupying force, a coterie of politically and culturally non-indigenous leaders whose rule contravenes local values rooted in our national tradition. It is as if the United States has been occupied by a foreign power, and this transcends policy objections. It is not about Obama’s birthplace. It is not about race, either; millions of white Americans have had black mayors and black governors, and this unease about out-of-synch values never surfaced.
The term I settled on is “alien rule” — based on outsider values, regardless of policy benefits — that generates agitation. This is what bloody anti-colonial strife was all about. No doubt, millions of Indians and Africans probably grasped that expelling the British guaranteed economic ruin and even worse governance, but at least the mess would be their mess. Just travel to Afghanistan and witness American military commanders’ efforts to enlist tribal elders with promises of roads, clean water, dental clinics, and all else that America can freely provide. Many of these elders probably privately prefer abject poverty to foreign occupation since it would be their poverty, run by their people, according to their sensibilities.
This disquiet was a slow realization. Awareness began with Obama’s odd pre-presidency associations, decades of being oblivious to Rev. Wright’s anti-American ranting, his enduring friendship with the terrorist guy-in-the-neighborhood Bill Ayers, and the Saul Alinsky-flavored anti-capitalist community activism. Further add a hazy personal background — an Indonesian childhood, shifting official names, and a paperless-trail climb through elite educational institutions.