Among the first fruits of an Obama presidency will be an international crisis, his
running mate said in Seattle last weekend.
"Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like
they did John Kennedy," Sen. Joe Biden said at a fund-raiser. "Watch, we're going
to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this
Sen. Obama's response to the crisis may not seem adequate, Sen. Biden said.
"We're going to need you to use your influence, your influence within the community,
to stand with him, because it's not going to be apparent initially, it's not going
to be apparent that we're right," he told the Democratic fat cats.
"You all are going to be sitting here a year from now going, 'Oh my G-d, why are
they there in the polls? Why is the polling so down? Why is this thing so tough?"
Sen. Biden said. "There are going to be a lot of you who want to go 'Whoa, wait a
minute, yo, whoa, whoa, I don't know about that decision."
This is the most astounding thing a vice presidential candidate has ever said about
the top of his ticket during a campaign. But Sen. Biden's remarks drew little
attention from many mainstream journalists who are loathe to draw attention to
information uncongenial to Sen. Obama's prospects in November.
This may in part be because Sen. Biden is given to saying remarkable things which
aren't true: That Franklin Roosevelt (who wasn't elected until 1932) went on
television (which didn't go into widespread commercial use until after World War II)
to explain the causes of the stock market crash of 1929; that Hezbollah has been
driven out of Lebanon; that J-O-B-S is a three letter word. But Sen. Biden was
picked for his alleged foreign policy expertise, and he has been receiving
classified intelligence briefings.
Jack Kennedy had two foreign policy tests early in his presidency, flunking the
first and passing the second.
At their summit meeting in Vienna in June, 1961, Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev
concluded Kennedy could be pushed around. The immediate consequence of the summit
was the building of the Berlin Wall. In response, President Kennedy made his famous
"Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a jelly doughnut) speech, but otherwise did nothing.
After Kennedy failed to come to the aid of Cuban exiles during the Bay of Pigs
invasion, Khruschev concluded he could put ballistic missiles in Cuba. The result
was the Cuban missile crisis. This time Kennedy stood firm. The missiles were
removed. But we came very close to nuclear war.
What tests might await a President Obama? "I can give you four or five scenarios
from where it might originate," Sen. Biden told the Seattle fat cats, mentioning the
Middle East and Russia in particular.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Wednesday senior Iranian officials are urging
a preemptive strike on Israel, before Israel could launch a strike on Iran's nuclear
facilities. Could this be what prompted Sen. Biden's musings?
When Russia invaded Georgia in August, Sen. Obama's initial response was to urge
Russia and its tiny victim of aggression to exercise "restraint." Might Russia
invade other neighbors? Ukraine? Azerbaijan?
The implication of Sen. Biden's remarks is that voters will be buying trouble if
they choose Sen. Obama in November, because America's enemies are unlikely to "test
the mettle" of John McCain.
Mr. Biden, according to Michael Crowley of the New Republic, once suggested to
staffers an appropriate response to the 9/11 attacks would be to send a check, "no
strings attached" for $200 million to the mullahs in Tehran. So I don't think much
of his judgment. But I do think he's right in this instance. A President Obama
will be challenged by our enemies, and he'll flinch.
But even if Sen. Biden's prediction is correct, to say such a thing three weeks
before an election shows remarkably poor judgment. Having "Slow Joe" a heartbeat
away is almost as disconcerting as an Obama presidency.