The President Is Not Mad

I thank my friend Rabbi Menken for a vivid demonstration of American democracy at its best. He took Natan Sharansky’s Town Square Test and emerged with his head still perched atop his shoulder blades. We are very fortunate to live in a country that tolerates dissent, even in the extreme.

Dissent happens even in the pages of Cross-Currents. I dissent. In the extreme.

The President is not mad. He is not an imbecile. He is not evil.

I have no doubt that he has the interests of America foremost in mind, as do many others who worked on the accord, and those who continue to defend it.

I do believe, as a layperson with no great insight or insider information, that the Iran deal is a poor one. I will work, along with other Americans, to persuade our legislators to push back against it. I believe that the short-term threat is not to Israel, but to the United States. The Iranians may actually slow progress towards the bomb for a few years to achieve relief from the crippling sanctions the West imposed. The greatest immediate threat is to countries other than Israel, which will feel the effect of discretionary capital in the pockets of the world’s greatest exporter of terror. I fear that we will see, as a consequence of the agreement, many more Chattanoogas.

We approach Tisha B’Av with a heightened sense of the exile of the Divine Presence, not only from Jewish life, but in the conduct of human affairs in general. On Sunday, we will stand better prepared to pour our hearts out to G-d to ask Him to protect both this country and the State of Israel, to impart wisdom to their leaders, and to banish evil forever by establishing His Kingship among us, quickly in our day.

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11 Responses

  1. Lisa Liel says:

    Unfortunately, the ongoing debate between you and Rabbi Menken over whether the president is crazy or evil or anti-American really misses the point. He is probably none of those things (at least no crazier than any politician), but by his actions, he might as well be. And it behooves us to understand why rather than blindly trust or mistrust him.

    Barack Obama was raised to believe that imperialist powers, America among them, are oppressive of third world countries and of people of color. He makes this clear in his Memories of My Father book. His parents believed this, and he was raised with it deeply ingrained. This is aside from his emotional connection to Islam. While he may not be a Muslim himself, neither is Jon Voight a Jew, but in the same way that Voight is a tremendous Ohev Yisrael, Obama is a tremendous Ohev Yishmael. And again, his actions have shown this over and over again.

    As a young man, he was a community organizer in Chicago. Here, too, he saw people of color being trodden on by “The Man”, who was predominantly white.

    He has spent much of his presidency trying to topple the US from its position as a world leader, not out of anti-American hatred, but out of a sincere conviction that the US as an imperialist power is bad for everyone. America as well as the rest of the world.

    In the case of Iran, this entire deal was for a single purpose. Rescue. Sanctions have worked on many countries in the past, and they were working on Iran. It’s why Iran was willing to come to the negotiating table in the first place. Obama could not accept that the dominant middle eastern nation would be humbled by the west. To him, it is a matter of justice that Iran should have hegemony in the middle east at least to the same degree that the US has it in the west.

    As for Israel, he clearly feels that Israel is an imperialist foreign entity in the middle east. Not that he wants to wipe us out, but if that’s what happens, he would see it as the tragic result of Israel’s own actions.

    He doesn’t do what he does because he hates Israel. He doesn’t do what he does because he hates America. He does what he does because in his worldview, it’s just. Of course, that’s cold comfort to those who are put in peril by his actions, but we need to remember that “no one is the bad guy in their own story”. He wants to do the right thing. It’s just that what he sees as the right thing is hopelessly out of sync with us.

  2. mycroft says:

    ” will work, along with other Americans, to persuade our legislators to push back against it. I believe that the short-term threat is not to Israel, but to the United States. ”

    Since the US essentially took the threat of military action against Iran off the table during the Bush Administration there has been no credible threat to force Iran to accept a deal that all friends of Israel would desire. Once the other major powers have removed sanctions unilateral sanctions by the US would not be effective, Sad but true. Perhaps if Bush had responded to Israel’s request for bunker busters during the latter part of his administration a military option would have been possible by Israel-but sadly those days are long gone.

  3. Rafael Araujoberg says:


    You are bang on. Obama was raised by Marxist-Leninists. He first speech was delivered…in Cairo, for goodness sakes. He likely was raised on Edward Said’s doctrine of Orientalism. He sees Israel as a symbol of Western imperialsima and meddling in the Middle East. As he stated in his infamous Cairo speech, Israel was born out of Western guilt for the Holocaust. He doesn’t really believe that Jews have a religious or historical claim to Israel.

  4. Y.Ben-David says:

    To claim that Obama is insane is to assume that really he shares the same values as most Americans have had since the founding of the country until about 20 years ago but something went haywire in his mind. This is most definitely NOT the case. He knows exactly what he is doing and things are going the way he wants. The bloody chaos in the Middle East corresponds to his world view. His goal is to knock down the US as a world power because he perceives it as an imperialist, colonialist bully and Israel is an anachronistic colonialist vestige. He is a revolutionary (and this includes most if not all the people in his entourage). Revolutions are messy things and sometimes you have to sacrifice a lot of people in order to bring about the utopia you have in mind.
    I read an article that said the activities of ISIS benefit the Iranians, allowing them to openly spread their control over the Shi’ite areas of Iraq. Assad also has some sort of quiet agreement with ISIS in that they don’t fight one another (Tadmor/Palymyra does seem to be an exception but it is unclear what really happened there). Iran, Assad and the Shi’ites want to see the Sunnis slaughter one another and they think this will give the ability to eventually dominate the Middle East. There is no doubt Obama is sympathetic to this and he definitely wants an alliance with Iran.
    Now, someone will throw up the claim that “security cooperation between Israel and Obama’s administration are closer than ever”. Even Michael Oren has stated that. However, it is important to remember Obama inherited a government that has had long-term close cooperation in the security and intelligence reals with Israel and he can’t just sever the whole thing overnight. However, it also ties Israel’s hands to a large extent. For instance after the bloody Dolphinarium suicide bomber attack in 2001 (IIRC) in which 20+ Israelis were butchered, Sharon responded “restraint is strength”(?!) and he stated that “the Americans won’t let us respond”, so the close connections with the Americans served as a convenient excuse for him to do nothing, and the Americans can use it to threaten us when we don’t behave as they want.

    The bottom line is that the American that Israelis identified with since the Six-Day War no longer exists. The majority of Americans, while still expressing general support for Israel, also support the new liberal, “progressive” Obama view of America and, in addition, most American Jews, including many Orthodox are not that interested in Israel and are not particularly concerned about Israel’s security situation. Thus, we Israelis are going to have to face the fact that Uncle Sam in going to increasingly distance itself from us and we will have to defend ourselves and not rely on outsiders to look out for our interests.

  5. Reb Yid says:

    YA said:

    “I fear that we will see, as a consequence of the agreement, many more Chattanoogas.”

    Huh? This was a lone wolf shooting.

    On the other hand, if our country actually got around to serious gun control, we’d see a significant decrease in gun violence. Far easier to drive a car than to purchase a gun. Heck, far easier to purchase a gun than to vote (at least in some states). Thank the good ‘ol NRA, aided and abetted by the GOP.

    [YA = He may have been a lone wolf, but one in whose lair lots of live bait was thrown by jihadists who do a far better job using social media than the rest of us. And any of us using them with any efficiency at all are spending many man-hours, all of which translate into money. The more money available to the Iranians, the better job they will do in recruiting people to their own lairs of barbarism, including the unstable candidates like Mohammad Abdulazeez. Yes, there are certainly grounds for fear that this accord will give us many more Chatanoogas. Since we refuse to do profiling like the Israelis, we will have to live – and die – with the consequences.]

  6. Bob Miller says:

    In any case, he acts as if he’s mad at us.

  7. Raymond says:

    I will acknowledge that Barack Obama is certainly not a stupid man, nor is he incompetent. On the contrary, he knows exactly what he is doing. As for the question as to his motivation for doing what he does, I am reminded of when, some years ago, I asked the politically conservative thinker, David Horowitz, whether he thought that Barack Obama is really a moslem. David Horowitz smiled at my question, and then said, “That is the $64,000 question, isn’t it? And yet the truth is, that it does not matter, because based on his actions, he may as well be one.” And that is how I feel about Baraq Obama in a more general sense. While I happen to think that he is deliberately doing all he can to destroy this country and abandon Israel, even if it is not deliberate but merely incompetence, the results are exactly the same. It should be noted that Barack Obama himself said, just days before he was about to take over the White House, that he would be fundamentally transforming America. And that is exactly what he has done. Another politically conservative thinker, Ben Shapiro, said that in that sense, Barack Obama is the most successful President that this country ever had, in that he has achieved all of his goals, managing to turn the purpose and spirit of America completely upside down. To paraphrase still another conservative thinker, namely Dennis Prager, no single individual American has done more harm to this country than has Baraq Obama. And thanks to him, unless either Congress or G-d or both intervene, Barack Obama will also succeed in using Iran to achieve his dream of destroying our Jewish State of Israel.

  8. Robert Lebovits says:

    I completely agree, Barack Obama is certainly focused on “the interests of America”. What is terrifying is that the America he is intent on seeing come into existence is no longer the bulwark from the evils in this world it has sought to be prior to his leadership.

    The Iran deal is only the last effort to minimize the standing of this country in world events. Likewise this administration has sought to see its will done and similarly change what America is about domestically, on so many levels, that religious freedom and open expression as we have known them to be are no longer presumptive.

    Perhaps we have been too smug in our reliance on the safety and security we have experienced here since the Holocaust. In the Kinos we read today we learn that the great community in Worms at the start of the Crusades refused an appeal from the community in Yerushalyim to help them rebuild and repopulate the city. While Christians were prepared to give up all that had to “save” the Holyland, the Jews of Worms were comfortable remaining in their “little Yerushalyim” and depend on the good graces of the people of the land to maintain themselves. Tragically, that came to a very bad end.

    Today of all days let’s recognize no government or leader ought to be the repository of our trust and there is no benevolence or wisdom we should be seeking from those in power. What HKB”H directs us to do is all that matters. Everything else is illusory.

  9. Crazy Kanoiy says:

    The real question should be is Benjamin Netanyahu insane? What does he hope to achieve with his constant public fights with the US administration? The Iran deal is done. There Will never be a veto proof majority in Congress willing to overturn the deal. What is Netanyahu’s end game? Why does he insist on going on US television whenever he can and make the President out to be a naieve fool? He is endangering Israel and world Jewry by making a public fight between Jews and the rest of the world. The danger that Netanyahu is placing Israel in, for no good reason at all, only adds to the danger of a resurgent Iran.

  10. davidf says:

    I have no idea whether President Obama is or isn’t mad. Nor does it concern me in the least if he is. I’m primarily concerned with how Hakadosh Baruch Hu feels, and I have a strong suspicion that He indeed, is mad [at us.]

  11. Fay says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Adlerstein, for this message and all of your fine columns.

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