It’s reported that when the British surrendered at Yorktown marking the end of the Revolutionary War, the British military band played in lament a famous British ballad, “The World Turned Upside Down.”
Watching Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande’s press conference yesterday, one wonders if there is a rap version in the works for Americans to play if our president continues his policy of leading from behind or more accurately—following.
My sons enjoy Marvel Comic’s Captain America where the World War II superhero spends years frozen in a block of ice only to emerge decades later to find a world he doesn’t recognize. In comics and films, Captain America’s initial confusion about the new world around him is rather humorous. Obviously, a lot has changed since 1945.
Now imagine Captain America waking yesterday, turning on a television, and seeing the world’s new emerging power, France, leading the way in a battle against a deadly enemy. The American president stands alongside and pledges his support saying, “Nous sommes tous Francais” which translates as “We are all French” after reminiscing about a photograph of him kissing his wife in the Luxembourg Gardens.
In fairness, that’s not all the American president does. He honors all the wonderful things about the French culture and then promises to fight the enemy by attending a conference in Paris to discuss climate change.
If only this scene came from a comic book. Unfortunately, it’s exactly what happened yesterday at the Obama/Hollande press conference.
Since the tragic events of November 13th, President Hollande has shown strength and leadership. Shortly after the attack on Paris he declared, “We are at war.” Afterwards, he promised, “We will lead the fight and we will be ruthless.”
One might wonder if the roles had been reversed at the outset of World War II, perhaps the United States might have avoided that war altogether (or at least the European theater) since a strong determined France would likely have thwarted or at least significantly slowed the German march across Europe.
Failing that, however, the world should be quite grateful that America was under the leadership of a president named Roosevelt and not Obama as events unfolded then.
Clearly, the world stands at a difficult crossroads today with inspired intelligent leadership desperately needed. While it’s nice to know that Francois Hollande is there when the world needs him, it would certainly help to know that a leader with moral authority and a strong military to back him up is taking the lead.
Like many Americans, I appreciate French culture. Although I’ve never had the pleasure of a romantic kiss in the Luxembourg Gardens, I certainly relish the idea of such an experience. I even studied French in college although to this day my children still tease me about the time I asked for directions to Napoleon’s Tomb in French only to have a Frenchman respond in English, “It’s around the corner.”
So yes, I appreciate Paris and the French so it is no slight to say that I like many people yearn for a United States president who exhibits true leadership at a difficult time.
Unfortunately, as it stands now it appears that our greatest hope for such a person won’t happen until January 20, 2017.