If President Obama had done more, or less, or something different, we wouldn’t have to discuss Egypt. We could discuss President Obama. Waaaaah! (More)

Whine & Cheese, Part I – This Problem Shouldn’t Exist

This week Morning Feature samples our national whines. Today we sip a common variety: This Problem Shouldn’t Exist. Tomorrow we’ll taste a more full-bodied vintage: That Solution Won’t Fix Everything. Saturday we’ll ask Fred for a better whine list.

First a complaint about dictionaries, which define the whine we mean as “to complain or protest in a childish fashion.” But then you have to look up childish, which they define as “marked by or indicating a lack of maturity; puerile.” That leads us to puerile, which they define as “belonging to childhood; juvenile; immature; childish.” So off we go to juvenile, which they define as “marked by immaturity; childish.” Okay, let’s try maturity (if this says “not immature” I’ll scream): “the state or quality of being mature.” Sigh. So what is mature (and it better not mean “not childish”)? Ahh, a breakthrough: “worked out fully by the mind; considered.”

So whine means “to complain or protest” in a way that’s not “worked out fully by the mind.” If they’d just said that, I wouldn’t have had to wade through all those other definitions. Then I’d have more time to discuss whining. Instead I spent all that time doing that and now….

Oops. Um, let’s talk about something else.

“Obama should have….”

Let’s talk about Egypt instead. Well, not Egypt specifically. To do that, I’d have to read a lot about Egypt, her political history, institutions, interest groups, people, and their political, social, and economic needs. That would be hard to work out fully by the mind. But the “Jasmine Revolutions” in Tunisia, Egypt, and now perhaps Algeria are the biggest foreign policy stories of the month, so I can’t ignore them. I know … I’ll talk about what President Obama should have done about Egypt! That’s sounds Egypt-ish enough that people will think I’m foreign policy expert.

For example, President Obama should have seen this coming. After all, Egypts last elections were very flawed. If President Obama hadn’t refused to support the people in the streets of Tehran, we wouldn’t have this problem in Egypt now. I’m not saying we should have bombed bombed Iran, but the president should have at least spoken out for the people of Tehran. Like President Reagan would have.

Or I could say President Obama should have more closely followed President Bush’s support for democracy. Not that I have any argument with what we know publicly about the administration’s actions and statements to date. But if we had maintained a position and reputation of supporting democracy, our calls for restraint would have more credibility because the people of Egypt would know that our heart was with their desire for more representation. Somehow.

Or maybe I should say President Obama should have aggressively confronted the demonstrators. If he’d stood with our ally Mubarak and denounced radical Islam, this problem wouldn’t exist. In fact, his outright efforts to encourage people to destabilize the Mubarak regime broke Egypt. So now he owns it.

Ahh, that feels better.

Wow, do I sound like an expert or what? I haven’t actually said anything about Egypt, her political history, institutions, interest groups, people, and their political, social, and economic needs. I haven’t suggested what we might say to the new Egyptian military government, how we might discourage long-term military rule and encourage them toward a more democratic state.

But why should I? This problem isn’t the problem. The problem is that this problem shouldn’t exist. If this problem didn’t exist, we wouldn’t need to look for and work toward solutions. We could do something productive, like blaming the president for something else.

Show me a problem, any problem, and I can tell you why that problem wouldn’t exist if only Someone had done Something, Back Then. If only physicists had worked out time travel, I could go back and fix everything!

Sadly, they didn’t. I suppose we’ll just have to muddle through. But that solution won’t solve everything, and if we can’t solve everything why even bother?

But that’s tomorrow’s whine….

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Happy Thursday!