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Letter: Obama and Putin

President Barack Obama was a constitutional law professor at Harvard University and president of the Harvard Law Review. Our president is highly credentialed and a proficient orator as many would be, graduating from Harvard University.

Over a half-a-century ago, yet another ivy-leaguer said he “would sooner be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by 2,000 members of the faculty of Harvard.” What William F. Buckley Jr. was getting at, I believe, is the notion that leadership and governance requires more than academic acumen. With President Obama, it’s not a question of competency, but his absolute inflexibility about imposing a political agenda that many find incompatible with a constitutional republic such as ours.

There is something else beyond Obama’s ideology and persona that many find troubling: beyond what most understand to be the “historic nature of Obama’s election,” for instance, there are many others, notorious for deriding “organized religion,” see something spiritually transcendent in Obama’s election and presidency — and they demand from others, not cooperation and compromise, but unquestioning obedience.

Our country has survived exigent circumstances far more exacting than ours. In the waning years of Obama’s presidency, our president finds himself facing — not adoring classroom students, a supine White House Press Corps, a numbed electorate — but President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, a former KGB apparatchik, whose moves are always strategic and whose intentions make for antagonisms reminiscent of the Cold War years.

And while President Obama pontificates and mesmerizes our European partners, Putin asks only one question, a variation of a question asked by Josef Stalin to Winston Churchill about the Pope: “How many divisions does he have, or, now, how many divisions will the Americans send to East Ukraine, the Balkans, and later into Poland?”

In the meantime, Putin continues playing geopolitical chess while the Americans struggle with checkers.

FREDERICK F. BECKLO Jr.

Florence

Starting World War III over the Ukraine makes about as much sense as starting World War I over Serbia.

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