April 11, 2016 | Commentary on President Barack Obama, American Leadership

President Obama's Bad Bromances, Breakups

He’d explained, calmly, that he was on the right side of history and they weren’t. He’d noted that the only alternative to doing what he wanted was doing the wrong thing, or nothing at all.

And he’d pointed out that, when people disagreed with him, it was because of pressure from donors, or because they couldn’t tell fantasy from reality, or were like Iranian religious fanatics, or were just ignorant knee-jerk partisans.

But not everyone could be as fair-minded as he was. He had to remember that.

And then there were his cabinet colleagues. Or rather, his former cabinet colleagues. What a letdown they’d been. Chuck Hagel, complaining he’d been “destroyed” by the White House. Bob Gates, whining he’d been “double-crossed” and that the president always believed he was the smartest guy in the room.

And of course there was Hillary Clinton. How dare she say that “Don’t do stupid stuff” isn’t a strategy? He was against stupidity, and it was all working out great. Wasn’t it?

But who cared about all these has-beens? He didn’t. What bothered him a bit more was how all his friends abroad had failed him. It wasn’t fair to say he was a Vulcan who didn’t get on with foreign leaders. Heck, in 2010, he’d taken Dmitry Medvedev of Russia out for hamburgers. Would a Vulcan do that?

But that was just a fling, not a real bromance. He’d truly bonded with Recep Erdogan, from Turkey. They used to talk all the time on the phone — real heart-to-hearts, not boring stuff that made him play with his Blackberry, like when his advisers rambled on about Syria.

Somehow, though, it had gone wrong. In 2012, he’d believed Erdogan was a dynamic democrat. But now, with Erdogan’s security clashing with protesters on the streets of D.C., it was clear that wasn’t true.

And then there was Vladimir Putin of Russia. There was that awkward business with the reset button in 2009 (he blamed Hillary), but when Mitt Romney had said Russia was a problem in 2012, he’d scoffed.

But somehow things with Russia had gone wrong, too. Just like they had with David Cameron of Britain. Such a sweet man, who’d helped him out in 2012 with his re-election by pretending to like hot dogs and basketball games.

It was too bad he’d just had to publicly stab Cameron in the back by blaming the Brit for everything that had gone wrong in Libya. But facts were facts.

The president paused. An awkward thought struck him. How could he have believed Erdogan was a democrat when U.S. diplomats had been warning since 2004 that he wasn’t? Hadn’t Putin been responsible for the invasion of Georgia long before 2012? Hadn’t Mitt been right?

And was it fair for him to blame Cameron? After all, his administration had done in Libya what George W. Bush had done in Iraq: knock off a foreign dictator without having a plan for what to do next. Maybe that was — well, kind of stupid.

No, no, the president reassured himself. Nothing was his fault. Anyone who disagreed with him was just ignorant, or malicious. He’d not been gullible, or wrong. Everyone else had let him down.

And besides, it wasn’t as if no one liked him. There was nice Raul Castro in Cuba. And the mullahs in Tehran. What a relief it was to have friends you could rely on.

After all, he reflected happily, he really knew how to pick ’em.

 - Ted R. Bromund is a senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Thatcher Center for Freedom.

 - This piece originally appeared in Newsday. 

About the Author

Peter Brookes Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy

Originally appeared in Newsday