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Did Barack Obama channel George W. Bush in his Libya speech?

Obama equals bush

President Obama has been called a lot of things: a Muslim, a Kenyan, arrogant, etc. But one criticism that continues to sour the stomachs of liberals and Obama supporters is that he isn't much different than George W. Bush.

"Obama equals Bush" is a complaint from the left that didn't just spring up yesterday. The fact that this president still has troops in Iraq, prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, tax cuts for the rich, and now a new war brewing in the Middle East has some of his supporters echoing none other than Sarah "How's that hopey changey stuff workin out for you" Palin.

Obama's address to the nation Tuesday (conveniently timed so it wouldn't conflict with "Dancing with the Stars") seemed to echo a 2002 speech Bush delivered announcing that the nation was going to war in Iraq. Wouldn't you agree?  The video below shows some unexpected similarities. And if you do agree, what do you make of the odd similarities?


Obama hails extending Bush tax cuts as middle-class victory

Obama on Libya: Intervention prevented more bloodshed

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said prospects for closing Guantanamo Bay were "very, very low"

Note: Andrew Malcolm is on vacation.

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: A protester holds a poster melding the faces of former President George W. Bush and President Obama during a demonstration in Chile during Obama's visit last week. The banner reads: "The same old crap." Credit: Victor Ruiz Caballero / Reuters

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Obama takes whatever position it takes to get himself re-elected.

It has become comical to watch him "turned into" FDR, Lincoln, Eisenhower, JFK, etc.

Now it's Bush.

Comparisons to Carter are more accurate.

Doesn't the man have anything to make himself...himself?

What this tells us is that regardless of the personality, educational background, party affiliation, or culture, these two presidents have drawn the same conclusions about the behavior of these two tyrants. What this says is that the commonality between the two assessments is probably the truth; therefore, there is a lot of truth in what these two men have outlined.

What this tells us is that regardless of the personality, educational background, party affiliation, or culture, these two presidents have drawn the same conclusions about the behavior of these two tyrants. What this says is that the commonality between the two assessments is probably the truth; therefore, there is a lot of truth in what these two men have outlined.

After watching the two, it is easy to see how one could say that is the case. I wonder if that was part of the plan. Any possibilities that Obama was setup by his staff for this very reason?

Both had struggles with this area but I guess when you boil it down, there are not many options to present the case to the citizens.

Now we know presidents follow orders of secret masters
Bush never represented himself as the peace president
as this administration did ( we will end the wars! promote peace between israel and palestinians!!!)
The jaw dropping disappointment is paralyzing and depressing

obama is well out of his depth. a good talker but weak and insecure person.

he is no George W Bush. 50 years from now movies will be made about bush and he will be one of the more talked about presidents.

boring obama will be a jimmy carter/ Gerard ford – an afterthought who know one knows.

say what you want about Bush but he like JFK Reagan, Roosevelt he is a face of the presidency.

He may be turning into George W. Bush the 2nd but hey guess what? -- GW got re-elected!

Channel or just changed the words of George Bush up a bit? Sounds more like he just changed the wording up and gave the same speech.

During election, Obama fooled American people in believing that he is the leader who will make changes. Listen folks, I am from India and Indian political leaders (some of them) during election year promise all things that the voters want to hear. Obama did same thing. Its called populist propaganda which help promote and book their win. A good orator doesn't mean anything. Nobel committee even fooled themselves by giving guy called Obama nobel price. Do yourselves a favor, don't win this guy next time. And Yes, don't forget to forget Sarah Palin as well!

oh brother.... obama compared to mister with us or against us himself?!! why dont we try comparing many in the house majority to babies that need their specific pacifier or they cry and make it impossible to get anywhere instead? Remember the house refuses to allow fair healthcare and are trying to stop the budget. the major difference is we have nato doing the brunt of libya instead and we do not plan to "stay the course" or commit armies to the field just yet.

Umm. The banner doesn't read: "the same old crap". A better translation of "la mierda continua" would be: "the $--- continues"...

You mean W isn't still the pres? I haven't noticed any difference at all except I thought he learned to speak the language and traded in his wife for a (much) better model.

I voted for Obama , but the more I listen to him , the more I find him to be a fence sitter. He needs to grow some balls. The is no question about his intelligence or his ability to talk at all levels to all the world leaders. But dud he really does need to grow some balls and stop making promises he cannot keep.

Are You CRAzy?....Just another Obama bashing article. George Bush LIED about WMD's...and he sent in ground troops. Obama is not sending in ground troops. AND he has already turned the operation over to NATO. Anything Obama does, there will always be critics......Newt Gingrich comes to mind with his "FLIP FLOPPING" positions. If he didnt do anything to stop Gadhafi, you wouldve said he is channeling Jimmy Carter.

they even dressed alike

Now hold on. Last I checked the Obama administration hasn't been making up intel about WMDs or plans by Gaddafi to acquire nuclear material, attack Israel and fund al Qaida operations. They haven't thrown UN inspectors or peacekeepers out of Libya, and quite frankly it seemed like they got dragged into Libya reluctantly, wanting to avoid another Iraq but also wanting to avoid another Bosnia (remember how many people were murdered there waiting for Nato action?)

The similarity of the speeches is striking but it doesn't prove similarity of (ulterior) motives. It just shows that there's a canned way of springing the news of war on the American people. What was he gonna say? "Hey, we're sending in your sons and daughters but this isn't really that big a deal and they'll probably be home in two weeks"?

I too was hoping Obama would have been more relentless and successful in undoing all of Bush's foul-ups but some of this criticism is just plain querulous.

Obama and Bush were financed by the same masters, just masquerading as two faces, left and right.

Bush was selected at Bohemian Grove, Obama was selected at Bilderberg.

Follow the money and take the red pill. Watch dancing with the stars and take the blue pill.

Well-edited to show superficial similarities while the scenarios are completely different. E.g. the primary reasons for military action (false charges of WMDs in the case of Iraq, active attacks against civilians in the case of Libya) and nature of the engagement (massive pre-emptive invasion including ground troops in the case of Iraq, vs. reaction to Libya's military actions against its people, involving air attacks and no ground troops). But people see what they want to see -- if you want to ignore all the differences and believe that Obama is the same as Bush, go right ahead; the world sees them very differently, however.

I do draw some similarities however, the situations and circumstances are significantly different. Iraq was a move made at a time when the American public was looking for answers and WMDs. Retrospectively, Iraq became a bit of a quagmire, moreover it would seem that Obama is trying to define his strength and leadership credentials as commander in chief rather than pursue common sense. He said it in his speech, "there are many evil dictators and regimes, so why Gadaffi, why now?" I find myself asking that same question. Was this because France was taking the lead and to let them do so would look like we weren't in control? We can't make the world perfect place. And there is a time and a place where military intervention is necessary. But basically Obama chose sides in a civil war. What if Britain & the rest of Europe had really come in on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War? Just some food for thought.

It's not the president, it's the speech writer. Both reasons for going to war was to get rid of a tyrant in a oil producing country.
Why not get rid of the tyrant in areas that don't have resources we want, such as in areas around Dafur?
The industrial war machine needs these little skirmishes to have a positive bottom line, so they make sure the president says the right thing to get public support.

The speeches might be the similar, but that is only because the justification to militarily interfere with another country can only be said in so many words, and only so many sentiments may be used to persuade the American public that this is a worthwhile endeavor. The more important thing here is to look at the difference between Libya and Iraq and all the other differences surrounding these two situations. Iraq in 2003 is hardly comparable to what happened in Libya this year--the most glaring difference being that here there are at least some people who want liberation (something that is indeed a very important factors as we learned from the Sunni Awakening of 2007 during the Surge). The differences between these two countries are deep, and obviously not all can be listed here. Bottom line is, just because they're saying similar things does not mean they are doing it for the same reasons--or will have the same outcomes.

Yes - so curiously similiar. Obviously could not have the materials to drum-up support(some change). Thanking the Nation for surrendering their sons/daughter to the frontline in the knowledge they have no sons "allowed" to do the nation honor dying for a Presidential"s "cause".

Just wait!, next election we'll have ObamaBush on steroids! you aint seen nothin yet,
unless the masses come to their senses and Wake Up!

Pres Bush did not have the support of the Security Council. Big difference.

I agree, David. We also need to look deeper into why Obama has turned out the way he is percieved. As a junior senator, he was running for president-an office he was ill-infomed to pursue. Once elected, he had to grow up fast and face the harsh reality that a U.S. president faces. He ran on the premise that he would close Gitmo and pull our troops out of Iraq. After his election, he met with President Bush as is customary with the transfer of power. Immediately, Gitmo and Iraq went into backpeddle as that meeting obviously revealed some things that probably none of us know.
The healthcare pipedream caused him to grow more as he learns the difference between a democracy and a republic. While I do not think Obama will go down in history as one of the greats, he is doing a FAR better job than this conservative thought he would do.

Channeling GWB? I'd say more like aping W. Image makeover for the gullible going full tilt by this 18-hole poser. I don't regard W as a good potus and I didn't vote for him, but what a towering triumph relatively George W Bush was for USA now that BHO, friends and his czars are in residence.

It breaks the hearts of all of us who gave more than we could afford because we believed this man was different. He inspired the world and could have made a real difference.

Now, the biggest threat our country faces comes not from radical Islam, mercenary armies, greedy bankers, renditions, warrantless wiretaps, or even the military industry, but from ourselves.

We are losing our spirit and it will be hard to believe again. So with the spiraling character of the land, the new pall of hopelessness might usher in another type of charismatic leader--like one whose megalomania and depravity we've seen before.

"I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank. " - Barack Obama Campaign Promise - October 27, 2007

As of January 31, 2011 there were still 47,000 American troops in Iraq.

When President Obama took office there were 32,000 troops in Afghanistan. As of now there are approximately 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.

I would like to think the promises were spoken out of naiveté.

I leave you with a pertinent portion of a non-naive Eisenhower in his famous last speech to the American people as President:

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Libya is not Iraq. And this is not serious criticism. We are engaging in a new military action in which lives will be destroyed and we are discussing what color to paint the bombs. This is a classic case of Americans misguided cynical instincts to fight the last war both politically and on the battlefield. There are plenty of serious and substantive criticisms to be made of Obama and the decision to launch an air campaign in Libya. This raises none of them. This is a colossal example of a lack of imagination, curiosity, and intellect. It is sound and fury signifying nothing and worst of all it is fairly poorly done and boring. Designed only to dumb down the conversation and obfuscate the real issues and questions we need to be discussing.
Why would the creators of the video and the LA times want to do this? Simply put they cynically believe that their readers and by extension the public at large lack the intellectual prowess, curiosity, and contextual frame work to grapple with the real pertinent questions. It is exemplary of a belief that this is the extent of our ability to engage with an issue without becoming frustrated and tuning out. Judging by the responses to this piece perhaps they are right.
Perhaps the LAT should leave this sort of thing to the folks at Comedy Central and go back to doing substantive long form journalism that could address issues like... Who are the rebels? What options does the US have here? Could we get away with sitting this one out entirely or are we obligated by our allies to engage. Is the involvement of the AU genuine or a way of influencing the events from the inside? What are the potential costs for invading or for not? I am not a journalist and from viewing the comments here I wouldn't have any faith in my audience to engage in complex nuanced news coverage but please try to hold the LAT to a hirer level than this. Perhaps this is hoping for too much.

Arab masses should not think of Obama's support for their struggle against their autocrats any more. Per his doctrine. He will support only if it will be in the interest of America first and the Arab League and Israel second and the masses have to wait till there are mass murder or large scale genocide occur. In short, America has nothing to do with their thrust for freedom, democracy and inhuman condition under their autocrats or Occupiers. The another and more important policy issue was not mentioned and that is; the state must have natural resources including OIL or America will be the last to think about helping them. Look for BAHRAIN, SYRIA, YEMEN, JORDAN; we have no business there and look for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Abudhabi and Muscat; they are in our control, we have no interest to disturb them.

Actually there are some parallels between Iraq and Libya. Both are/were run by tyrants, THEIR tyrants. Hussein's only valid WMDs were CIA provided gas canisters to deter the Iranian human wave attacks and stem their little war. He used up what was left on the Kurds when they attacked with our promise of support. Gadafi was a huge pain for awhile allowing extremist training camps etc., but seemed to have chilled a bit after his own tent was bombed and he lost his favorite wife at the time and their child. I suppose intelligence failed to factor in that he preferred porcelain facilities when he had to go.

A debtor nation cannot afford to be the world's policemen and go firing off multiple cruise missles and launching planes every time there is strife in the world. The Pentagon reports they spent $550 million bombing Libya in TWO days. 72% of Iraqis feel less secure than they did prior to our invasion. The mujahideen we supported against the Soviets are now the Taliban supported by al-Qaeda. We have a $50 million dollar price tag on Osama's head and give the Pakistani's billions to allow the flyovers and incursions. Libya is indeed a parallel. Let these countries deal with their own tyrants in their own good time or even bad time if the case may be.

Who wants Bush back? Not me. Obama may not delivered on his promises, but that's the same in every country.
Just take a look at Germany. Mrs. Merkel is turning her course after what happend with Japan's atomic power plant. Maybe. Maybe not. The government is still thinking about what to do....


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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