By Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT: Let me join the #hashtag chorus for a just a few minutes and let’s look back at one of the weirdest weeks in #foreignpolicy in recent memory (and that’s saying something.)
I’m #baffled, really, by this #hashtag #diplomacy. What in the heck is going on here?!
Fausta posted earlier in the week on #hashtagdiplomacy in response to Michelle Obama’s now infamous tweet in which she held up a sign saying #bringbackourgirls. It is beyond bizarre to me that the First Lady would do this. Not that she’s done anything wrong, mind you, just that it’s weird. When I first saw the photo my first response was “Is this what we’ve come to?” Really?
I wasn’t alone in that thought. Cut to Mark Steyn:
It is hard not to have total contempt for a political culture that thinks the picture at right is a useful contribution to rescuing 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by jihadist savages in Nigeria. Yet some pajama boy at the White House evidently felt getting the First Lady to pose with this week’s Hashtag of Western Impotence would reflect well upon the Administration. The horrible thing is they may be right: Michelle showed she cared – on social media! – and that’s all that matters, isn’t it?
The key word in that, at least to me, is “Western Impotence.”
What in the world is a #hashtag going to do? Doesn’t the world already feel terrible about the kidnapping of 276 Nigerian school girls who will be (have been already?) sold in to slavery? A #hashtag is going to make us more aware? #seriously?
There’s something slightly weird about taking a hashtag – which on the Internet at least has a functional purpose – and getting a big black felt marker and writing it on a piece of cardboard and holding it up, as if somehow the comforting props of social media can be extended beyond the computer and out into the real world.
It’s #pandering is what it is. MO is taking a terrible event and pandering to her social media fan base; look at the gloomy, sad face she has adopted for the photo shoot. Was she just sitting around in the White House with this poster board in her lap when the White House photographer stumbled upon her? I think not. It’s #pandering.
That being said, I now can’t help but wonder why Reagan didn’t deal with Gorbachev by just pulling out a poster and marker: #teardownthiswall.
For that matter, Patrick Henry could have used the old hashtag trick: #givemelibertyorgivemedeath. It would have saved us a lot of trouble.
The #hashtag theory of foreign policy would have served Roosevelt well: #daythatwillliveininfamy.
The point, of course, is that Michelle’s staged photo simply illustrates the feckless foreign policy of this administration.
Rush Limbaugh, Friday:
I was aghast. I mean, it’s embarrassing that a Twitter hashtag is all we’ve got. And, in fact, I was further embarrassed that a Twitter hashtag is assumed to be enough because all we have to do is show that we’re concerned. All we have to do is exhibit our proper intentions, and that covers it We don’t have to actually do anything. It’s perfect liberalism. You don’t solve anything. You don’t do anything. You just show that you care and you have good intentions.
We are impotent. We arm Mexican drug cartels, we bow to foreign leaders, we alienate our allies, we appease dictators, we leave our people behind in foreign countries after a massacre and never seek justice. #embarrassing.
What country is this?
Which leads us to Hillary Clinton who refused to use her power as Secretary of State to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organization:
What Clinton didn’t mention was that her own State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, after the group bombed the U.N. headquarters in Abuja. The refusal came despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen senators and congressmen.
“The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy,” said a former senior U.S. official who was involved in the debate. “The FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department really wanted Boko Haram designated, they wanted the authorities that would provide to go after them, and they voiced that repeatedly to elected officials.”
And she’s going to be our next president? #sayitaintso.
As I said, it’s been a most bizarre week in politics, the least of which is our now most powerful weapon in foreign policy: the hashtag.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.