But just hours ahead of his major speech to the Muslim world (that will no doubt bash Bush and Cheney) he has suddenly found his past:
During a conference call in preparation for President Obama's trip to Cairo, Egypt, where he will address the Muslim world, deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Denis McDonough said "the President himself experienced Islam on three continents before he was able to -- or before he's been able to visit, really, the heart of the Islamic world -- you know, growing up in Indonesia, having a Muslim father -- obviously Muslim Americans (are) a key part of Illinois and Chicago."Zawahiri is unimpressed, but he's a terrorist. The battle here is for the street, and we'll see whether they buy the "polished words" or not. Maybe it would be good for the country if they fall for it but using partisan apologias to pit the world against US conservatives seems a damn funny way to fight a war. After all, Zawahiri is in hiding, not running Egypt as he desires, and this didn't happen by Bush apologizing to the terrorists after 9/11.
The Middle East is a male-dominated region where respect holds a lot more sway than in America, where we tend to elevate performers and winners. Here's Dick Cheney (and daugher) explaining his view.
Obama told a French journo that America could be thought of as "one of the largest Muslim Countries in the world". That's nice, we have a lot of Muslims in America. But we have astronomically more Christians. Didn't he say that America "is not a Christian Nation"? Some may have trouble with that nuance.
Obama's Rove says of the speech:
"There's been a breach, an undeniable breach, between America and the Islamic world," senior adviser David Axelrod said.First, perhaps they need to define "the Islamic world". As Obama just indicated yesterday, many Muslims live here in America. Is he speaking to them? What is he offering them, a new car?
"That breach has been years in the making. It's not going to be reversed with one speech—it's not going to be reversed, perhaps, in one administration. But the president is a strong believer in open, honest dialogue."
Second, what "breach" is he referring to, exactly? Is it Iraq, which the Democrats have set up as a golden political calf? Or is he talking about the CIA's action in Iran during the 50s or perhaps the formation of Israel in the 40s? And does self-reflection now partially justify all the past terror? Guess we'll soon find out.
There are some slight hypocritical issues with this premise, but overall it's really all we've got at the moment. Many thought Obama would be able to leverage his Muslim background to make an impression on the youth of Arabia and perhaps drain a little water from the swamp. The goal of isolating Zawahiri and bin Laden is a good one--surely that's why they've suddenly hit the airwaves in a desperate bid to remain viable--the question is, will it work? Will the old line Arabs see his speech as a scolding and if so, can the younger generation do anything about it (assuming they want hope and change)?