Obama and his rhetorical visit to the Middle East

One thing Barack Obama can do is talk, which is perfect for dealing with the Middle East where talking is the national pastime. Photo: President Obama listening to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu AP

CHARLOTTEMarch 26, 2013 — Perception is everything and words mean things. Two philosophies that have become the hallmark of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Whether perceptions match reality or the words have consequence have little significance. We live for today in a 24/7 news-cycle world. What we say and do now can easily be altered later.

As Nancy Pelosi so famously said, “We have to pass the bill to see what’s in the bill.”

Precisely. Create a monstrous bill that nobody reads, pass it into law and maintain power. Then return later to fix things nobody likes when elections are over and someone has had a chance to scrutinize the details.

It works the same way with foreign policy and the media and Israelis appear to have bought into it. President Obama went to the Middle East and returned amid rave reviews for his successful diplomacy.

But look again. What did he really do? He masterfully delivered a well-written speech to a hand-picked group of Israeli students in Jerusalem. Is that not what Obama always does? Speak.

When the teleprompter works President Obama is at the top of his game. Imagery. Rhetoric. They are the cornerstones of his administration.

What makes Mariano Rivera, the great closing pitcher for the New York Yankees, so amazing is that he has been so effective for so long by throwing only one pitch throughout his career. Barack Obama is the Mariano Rivera of politics.  He has one pitch and he delivers it with perfection. So much so that we buy it every time he throws it.

Traveling to Israel and meeting with Prime Ministr Benjamin Netanyahu looked good and sounded good. But was there any real substance? Certainly there was a lot of flowery language that amounted to pandering on both sides. There were strong warnings to Iran about their threat of achieving nuclear capabilities.

We have heard similar warnings before. Obama used tough words about the terrorist attack on Benghazi several months ago. For the most part that incident has faded from memory while the leaders of the attack are still at large. Use big words but do nothing.

The conflict between Palestine and Israel has been raging for decades. The struggle between Muslims and Jews for centuries. Do we honestly believe a few well-chosen words can become the salve that will heal such long-standing wounds?

There were the standard photo ops, for which the press with Netanyahu in Jerusalem projected a powerful image. It played well back home and in the media. The love-in created by the two leaders accomplished exactly what it was supposed to accomplish.

Words are not a bad thing. Discourse and negotiation when used properly and effectively can be a powerful tool and are much preferred to the alternative. But language must be meaningful. It cannot be the rhetorical rope-a-dope that has been such a centerpiece of President Obama’s presidency.

The words may sound good and resonate to a media savvy world, but if they are not carefully constructed within a meaningful context that literally speaks to the philosophical ideals of those with whom you negotiate, they are empty.

Barack Obama is long on words, but short on action. The question is just how long can this one-pitch president keep making those words effective.

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in CharlotteNCTaylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to SwitzerlandFrance and Italy for groups of 12 or more.

Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.

As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 71 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.


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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

 

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