Waiting for Barack Obama

When I voted for Barack Hussein Obama in 2008, I believed he was ideally situated to speak truth to the Muslim world regarding its intolerance of infidels, apostates, and unbelievers. I still think so. There is an urgent worldwide imperative for reformation of Islamist ideology, or we are all in big trouble.

Last Thursday at the State Department, at a time when Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood swarm all around Israel, President Obama saw fit to demand that the Jewish State let her enemies move closer.

In fairness, the president did also finally and blessedly mention freedom of religion as part of his universal rights agenda. It may be a start. That reference however was dwarfed by President Obama's unexpected announcement that Israel's 1967 border lines "with swaps" is now the United States position and expectation.

Barack Obama has kept me waiting and wanting more than a few times now. First time we met, the new senator was book-touring The Audacity of Hope at the LoDo Tattered Cover. On October 24, 2006, there was a huge line of 500 ticketed patrons, but my press credentials allowed me to avoid the queue and get a front row chance to report on the future president.

When Senator Obama's public remarks were done that day in Denver, I grabbed one of his books and filled a nearby empty chair. The thin man from Illinois took off his suit jacket and proceeded to charm hundreds of people who waited in line. I witnessed many book buyers project their hopes and dreams on the author.

I may have too. When the line emptied, Obama was finished, or so he thought. I had the audacity to bug him for one more autograph on his book that I had perused and purchased. Senator Obama was ready to leave. He had been there longer than expected but he gave me a handshake, an autograph and a brief greeting.

My radio partner, Dan Caplis, and I shared the privilege of broadcasting live Obama's historic 2008 Denver DNC acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium. There was a huge security perimeter for maximum security, but it was well worth the walk and wait for that exciting historic event. Lofty and winning words were delivered at altitude.

Now, in 2011, I was waiting for President Obama again. This time, I had to fly to Washington D.C. to hear how the president would handle his potential Jewish problem at AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). The 1967 lines between Israel and Palestine are indefensible, and most AIPAC attendees know it. Like me, most AIPAC members also voted for Barack Obama.

I arrived late on Saturday night. My hotel was a stone's throw from the White House. It was nearly midnight when I went out for my slow jog. Initially, I ran a couple blocks north instead of south, and found myself in an area with modern corporate office buildings shielding row upon row of homeless people laid out on the sidewalks below. I wondered if these people too were left waiting and wanting by Barack Obama.

Turning back downhill, I hustled toward the Mall and the hard to miss Washington Monument. Then I had a choice. I could go east toward the Capitol (Reid, Pelosi, Boehner, McConnell) or go west to see my old friend Abe. Is there any more inspirational artistic display than the Lincoln Memorial?

Our 16th president was waiting there at midnight to inspire me. Right above him, the inscription reads, "In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever."

Whose side would this tall thin man from Illinois be on in the modern Middle East? The Western Wall of the destroyed Second Temple was not regained by the Jewish State till 1967. I re-read the Gettysburg Address on the southern monumental wall and Lincoln's Second Inaugural on the northern side. I thought about Egypt and its enslavement of the Jews. I thought about the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates.

Abraham Lincoln was looking this night toward a waning ¾ moon hovering slightly to the south over Virginia. The Washington Monument obscured the view of the Capitol. But there beneath the moon, was the beckoning Thomas Jefferson Memorial. On the way, I ran into Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his little Scottish terrier, Fala.

What gems of American history! These presidents had monumental moments. Honest Abe fought a civil war made necessary by ideological bigotry that elevated one skin color of humans over another. FDR had to take on bigoted intolerant ideologies across the oceans. Thomas Jefferson anticipated almost everything. Freedom and liberty is what Jefferson's America was always supposed to be about.

Jihad and sharia law are antithetical to freedom and liberty. Why can't President Obama say that? Instead, our American leader unexpectedly pronounced last week that the tiny democratic ally, Israel, needs to get smaller and move closer to its Islamist antagonists.

By the crack of Sunday's dawn, I was up for the opening session of the AIPAC conference to witness the speech by Barack Obama. There was significant security, but after getting through and obtaining my press credentials, I settled with my laptop in the front media row and waited hours more for President Obama.

Obama's AIPAC speech can be reviewed here. President Obama clarified his State Department pronouncements and spoke about the ironclad commitments between America and Israel. But there was disappointment amongst many in the room that this president had even uttered words that needed clarification. AIPAC policy conferences in the past had been a love fest for the 44th president. This is where candidate Obama declared in 2008, "I'll do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything!"

In any special friendship, it is wise to avoid words that wound. If criticisms need to be made, there is a delicacy and diplomacy that goes with the task. When bombshell pronouncements come publicly and unexpectedly, there is shock and dismay. Is Barack Obama more interested in other relationships?

Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader and a proud Virginia Jew, wowed the crowd on Sunday night when he spoke about the anti-Semitic intolerance of the Islamists bordering Israel. How is the Jewish State supposed to make peace with Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood? What can Israel do to truly appease Iran? Could the Jews in the 1930s make peace with the Nazis by living in smaller ghettos?

Eric Cantor closed by referencing founding father James Madison, the Virginian whose congressional seat Cantor now holds. Founder Father James Madison, America's fourth President, studied Hebrew for a post-graduate year at Princeton. Our American founders were Zionists, the majority leader told the AIPAC crowd.

I thought again of my midnight mission to study the monuments along the Potomac. Great American presidents are celebrated for their courage to tell the truth and take action against poisonously bigoted enemies. The best presidents all had the courage to stand bravely and unequivocally for freedom. Let's hope and pray that Barack Obama becomes a great president. We are waiting.