Deputy State Department spokesman Marie Harf gives the catastrophic foreign policy of the Obama administration a lighter than air, Valley Girl kind of feel. She is a walking self-parody. As such, she presents a novel use of expressive form.
The attention Harf has earned this week with her explanation of the Obama administration’s approach to ISIS gives us an occasion to meditate on her deep meaning. National Review’s Kevin Williamson makes a good effort in “We are Marie Harf.” I want to plumb the depths by staying on the surface.
Coincidentally, President Obama gave the keynote speech yesterday afternoon at the inane Countering Violent Extremism conference he convened in Washington. At the White House, they call it a Summit. This is serious stuff. The White House has posted the text of Obama’s speech here; the C-SPAN video is below.
Obama’s speech provides the intellectual superstructure of Harf’s remarks this week. The speech gives us the Obama doctrine in pure form. The Obama doctrine, as it turns out, defines true Islam. His speech was accordingly full of the usual apologetics and doubletalk.
Nevertheless, an undertone of anger suffused Obama’s speech. Speaking against the backdrop of Harf’s remarks and the derision they have triggered, Obama came to restate the true doctrine. With Harf having set the stage he is unhappy about having to do so.
Obama appears as the defender of the faith and the Muslim faithful. He defends Islam against its supposed adversaries in Al Qaeda, the numerous regional affiliates of Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ansar al Islam, al Shabaab, the al Nusrah Front, Boko Haram and other such terrorist groups waging jihad against the infidels. Obama argues that conceding their claim to Islam in any sense grants them the legitimacy they crave. Speaking with the full authority of his office, Obama refuses to give them what they crave.
To you and me, these groups have a common denominator. The common denominator presents a challenge to Obama and his doctrine, but this is one challenge he refuses to shirk.
Putting these foreign terrorist organizations to one side, however, what does Obama’s doctrine say about the Islamic Republic of Iran? Iran is of course a notorious state sponsor of terrorism. Do the mullahs also misunderstand the tenets of the faith they proclaim? I wish someone would address that question to Obama.
Marie Harf gives us the Obama doctrine reduced to talking points. Harf is a dim bulb and the complete authorized version of the doctrine according to Barry shines none too brightly to begin with. Obama isn’t taking questions on the subject. Harf is not so lucky. Her job requires her to take questions.
Reduced to talking points and subject to questions, the doctrine is quickly reduced to parody. Thus Marie Harf.
Let’s take a look back at Harf in action as we have come to know her. In the video below Harf speaks up for UNRWA, the United Nations organization whose good works in Gaza include the hosting and return of Hamas missiles found in UN schools. During the latest conflict with Israel several sets of missiles had been found in UNRWA schools and returned to the authorities in Gaza (i.e., Hamas).
In the video below, Harf arrived with a prepared statement explaining the first such situation. AP diplomatic reporter Matthew Lee grilled Harf on the internal contradictions that Harf had, ah, failed to discern in her statement. This is merciless comedy exposing error and pretension.