Hot-mic incident raises serious questions about Obama’s character

Ken Blackwell Former Ohio Secretary of State
Font Size:

Wouldn’t you like to have been in the White House Situation Room when the president decided to take out Osama bin Laden? Thrilling, right? You’d have been part of history and have stories to tell your grandchildren. Well, you can’t. Not even if you donate a million dollars to the Obama re-election campaign. Sorry, Bill Maher, you’ll have to wait for the movie. It’s top secret.

Nor can you listen in when the president is at one of his G-8 summits (or is it the G-20 by now?). It would doubtless be interesting to learn what the big wigs are deciding about international trade and technology issues. It would be valuable, too, especially when you are filling out your own stock portfolio. Sorry, no entry allowed. Authorized personnel only. And you are not authorized.

So, it’s rare and exciting when we actually get to eavesdrop on conversations at a summit where high matters of state are being resolved between President Barack Obama and outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. We have to thank Jake Tapper of ABC News. He played this one straight.

No tingling went up and down Tapper’s leg as he reported on one of the most shocking conversations ever held by an American president. Instead, the hair should go up on every American’s neck when we overhear something as chilling as this conversation.

A press microphone, described by one journalist as a highly sensitive “shotgun mic,” picked up President Obama and Medvedev in an appalling exchange during a recent summit in Seoul, South Korea.

President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.

President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you. …

President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

Here, President Obama is confiding information to Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB agent, that he would not confide in us. He is telling Putin to cool it until November 6. After that, Mr. Obama will have more “flexibility.”

Flexibility for what? For making even more concessions than he made in the weak and unenforceable START treaty? (That treaty was the one so unwisely ratified in late 2010 by a “lame duck” Senate.)

The summit that Mr. Obama was attending with Medvedev in Seoul was just a few miles from one of the most dangerous flashpoints on earth, the De-Militarized Zone between North and South Korea. Has Russia been helpful in restraining North Korea’s nuclear program? Not at all.

Are the Russians helpful in Syria? They are backing dictator Bashar al-Assad to the hilt.

Are they helpful with Iran? They actually designed and built portions of Iran’s nuclear reactors.

Russia has sent spies to the United States. When the FBI nabbed 10 of them, just weeks before the president’s 2010 “Hamburger Summit” with Medvedev in Northern Virginia, the spies were allowed to go home. They weren’t extensively interrogated to learn who their contacts were in this country. They weren’t even required to go through a TSA pat-down. Small wonder that Medvedev munched on Mr. Obama’s fries at Ray’s Hell Burger. The Russian just ate his lunch.

What we see in this “secret” exchange between Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev confirms the worst fears of Americans about our national leadership. Iran is supplying weapons that have killed American soldiers — in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And Russia has been aiding Iran.

The Russians are not our friends. No one wants a new Cold War to break out. And we certainly don’t want a hot war. But, again, at least since Vladimir Putin’s rise to power on New Year’s Eve, 1999, Russia has not been our friend.

President Obama’s willingness to conspire — that is literally what the word means — with Dmitry Medvedev at a secret meeting raises the most serious questions about his character and his policy. This should not be a one-day story. This should be an issue of the highest concern to all Americans, regardless of party or politics.

Famed ex-communist Whittaker Chambers was deeply depressed when Harry Truman was re-elected in 1948. He thought he had become a “witness” against Alger Hiss, a top appointee of Franklin Roosevelt, and had provided stunning testimony of disloyalty at the highest levels of our government — all for naught. Chambers feared that a re-elected Truman would soften his stance against Russian subversion. But a Baltimore lawyer, a top Democrat named Richard Cleveland, came to Chambers and told him to take heart. He was telling the truth and the country would listen. That Democrat was the son of President Grover Cleveland. In those days, we could rely on both parties being loyal. We need that reliance again.

Ken Blackwell, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, is the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission.