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He’s Working on It

April 14, 2010

The French Cowboy would like to know Monsieur Obama’s definition of “democracy”:

Some observers see a conflict between Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the 56-nation OSCE, which plays an important role in monitoring elections in emerging democracies, and its own widely criticized human rights record.

But if the Obama administration saw any disconnect, it kept its criticism to itself.“In connection with the OSCE, the presidents had a very lengthy discussion of issues of democracy and human rights,” NSC senior director Mike McFaul said on a conference call with reporters Sunday. “Both presidents agreed that you don’t ever reach democracy; you always have to work at it. And in particular, President Obama reminded his Kazakh counterpart that we, too, are working to improve our democracy.” [Emphasis added.]

The Wall Street Journal‘s Jonathan Weisman asked McFaul to clarify.

“You seemed to be suggesting there was some equivalence between their issues of democracy and the United States’ issues, when you said that President Obama assured him that we, too, are working on our democracy,” Weisman said. “Is there equivalence between the problems that President Nazarbayev is confronting and the state of democracy in the United States?”

“Absolutely not … There was no equivalence meant whatsoever,” McFaul said. “[Obama’s]   taken, I think, rather historic steps to improve our own democracy since coming to office here in the United States.” [Emphasis added.]

Well, it’s really good to know that, even compared to Kazakhstan, the US is now really doing well in terms of democracy – not at all perfect, mind you, but really not that bad either – thanks to historic President Obama’s historic steps to historically improve America’s democracy. And consider what a great boost of self-esteem this historic comment must give to the Kazakhs:

[M]y wife and I have lived and worked in Almaty, Kazakhstan, since August 2008—this country has no idea what democracy is, and Nazerbayev prefers to keep it that way. He is the quintessential post-modern dictator. My wife and I teach at a school where the majority of our students’ parents are either in government or organized crime (it’s often a very fine line, and sometimes it doesn’t exist at all). I teach the comparative governments class, and it’s painful to watch my Kazakh students learn what terms like “liberal democracy” and “illiberal democracy” mean, then try to make the Kazakh square peg fit the liberal democracy round hole. When I raise even the mildest of criticisms in class, I can see the Kazakhs looking around the room to see who is present, so as to know what will be acceptable to say. It’s unbelievable how often I will hear a Kazakh student identify government propaganda for exactly what it is—propaganda—then follow up their analysis by immediately stating something to the effect of “but it’s also the truth.” No opposition parties are allowed; no negative press coverage is permitted; five-year plans are still being written with all of the passion and fanfare (and possibilities of success) of the Soviet era. And the U.S. president just told this Russian lap dog that the U.S. is still working on democracy, too. I can’t stress this enough: THE KAZAKHS WILL TAKE THAT STATEMENT AT FACE VALUE!!! “Hey, I guess that we’re not doing so bad, huh?”

It takes a genius president like Obama to realise that the relative long downhill slide to mediocrity of America – induced by spend-like-there’s-no-tomorrow economic policies, “opposite-day” foreign policy, and socialist domestic policies – can be even accelerated by talking up pseudo-democracies and act as if they were on par with actually free nations.

Don’t stop there, President Obama! Keep up that pace and by the end of your term the US will be comparable to Burma’s democracy!

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