June 21, 2006, - 6:43 am

Speak Loudly and Carry a Toothpick: Rodney Dangerfield America

By Debbie Schlussel
Rodney Dangerfield is back from the grave.
In the late ’70s, America was the globe’s Dangerfield. Like the late comedian, we got no respect.
Well, Rodney Dangerfield America is back. From a hemorrhaging alien problem to bizarre foreign leader loons with nukes, the world is laughing at our impotence, once again.
In the days of Jimmy Carter–whether it was the United Nations, the Middle East, or any other forum–the United States’ most prominent, constant fashion accessory was the “Kick Me” sign on its back. And like most bad fashion trends, that one is making a rude comeback.

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No Respect: Is America “Rodney Dangerfield Nation”?

In the 1980s, the Reagan Revolution put an end to the world’s snickering. But for a few missteps–like Ronald Reagan pulling out of Beirut shortly after the Hezbollah massacre of hundreds of U.S. Marines and allowing Lebanon to become a Hezbollah stronghold to this day–America regained the respect that Jimmy Carter threw away.
Unfortunately, President Bush is taking far too many cues from the Peanut Farmer President. And precious few from the Great Communicator.
In the ’70s, Carter helped usher out America’s most important ally in the Middle East, the Shah of Iran. The Shah was a tyrannical dictator who denied the human rights of his opponents, was the conventional wisdom of State Department types. But the Shah was a benevolent, pro-U.S. dictator in a strategically important nation.
And in the Shah’s vacuum, “democracy” broke out and Iran got a great democratic humanitarian? Nope. The country got a series of Islamofascist dictators each outdoing the other in crushing human rights and dissent with beatings and torture.
The Khomeini government that followed the Shah was met with a series of tough talk from Jimmy Carter. But tough talk didn’t change the Khomeini government. It didn’t get American hostages released during 444 days in captivity.
And tough talk won’t get Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program, today. The world is laughing at us. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice convinced President Bush to engage in a policy that’s hardly threatening: Oh, yeah. Well, if you don’t give up your nuclear weapons voluntarily, we’re gonna, we’re gonna, we’re gonna . . . offer you nuclear technology?!
No wonder Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is shown laughing and smiling in recent photos. Talk like this didn’t stop Hitler and it won’t stop his modern day version. Action will. Action is what Iran–what the Islamic world that hates us–understands and respects.
But we don’t have the will.
Then, there is North Korea. Competing with Ahmadinejad in the over-Viagra-ed department, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is test-launching long-range Taepodong-2 missiles capable of reaching the U.S.
So what do we do in response? Secretary Rice warns that the testing of such missiles would be a “provocative act.” Wrong. A Paris Hilton video is a “provocative act.” This is frightening–an act of war, infinitely more serious. Calling it a “provocative act” is not exactly boot-quake inspiring verbiage. It won’t do a thing. It certainly won’t stop North Korea from pursuing its missile practice.
We must shoot their missiles down to show them we mean business. There is no other way.
Ronald Reagan had it right. Peace through strength. Not through pillow talk. The world respected his tough behavior. The world laughs at our current wimpishness.
It’s not just the President and his minions. It’s local leaders, too, who properly elicit plenty of disdain from the world.
Take Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak. The R. T. must stand for “Real Traitor.” You’ve heard of Hanoi Jane. These days, she’s got strong competition from Minneapolis Rybak.
While tens of local leaders around the country are enforcing immigration laws that the Bush Administration won’t, Rybak is on the side of alien invaders.
He’s ordered Minneapolis police NOT to get involved in cracking down on people in the country illegally.
“Vulnerable people have always needed to see the police as being there to protect and serve, and that can’t happen when the first words out of a cop’s mouth are ‘I need to see your papers,’” Rybak told USA Today.
Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, headed by Special Agent Robert Hines, have trained local police from around the country in how to identify, process and detain illegal aliens. But Rybak not only won’t help ICE or allow his police to participate, last month he demanded that Minneapolis-based ICE agents stop identifying themselves as “police” and asked them to stop wearing vests and jackets with the word.
Unfortunately, Rybak has a lot of company. USA Today reports that Chicago prohibits its police and city workers from asking immigrants their legal status and New York City’s public hospitals promised to keep secret an immigrant’s legal status. Blame Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who–like Rybak–is an opponent of enforcing immigration laws, for that.
While 57 big-city police chiefs in the Major Cities Chiefs Association came out against enforcing immigration laws, our troops in Iraq have a large contingent in Al-Qaim at the Syrian border. They know that insurgents, alien invaders from other countries will slip through, if they’re not there–and throughout Iraq–demanding to see papers. It’s what police all over America should be doing, but won’t.
The world laughs. Thousands of miles away from American terra firma, our troops are tough and brave.
But over here, our politicians and policy makers from top to bottom, national to local, aren’t any of these things.
They speak loudly and carry a toothpick.

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6 Responses

Absolutely brilliant. Just pure common sense and plain talk.
Excellent article, Ms. Schlussel.

Jeff_W on June 21, 2006 at 9:01 am

Yeah,but Rodney also had a serious side;I saw him
shut up a heckler at Detroit’s Ford Auditorium with,”I remember when I had my first beer.”

jaywilton on June 21, 2006 at 1:03 pm

Bunch of nonsense. It’s great to talk about how “we” should kick someone’s ass, when “we” will be sitting in an airconditioned office pretending we’re Michelle Malkin. If we’re the laughingstock of the world, it’s because bloggers like this one actually think we can accomplish stomping on every enemy in Rambo fashion.

cdunlea on June 21, 2006 at 7:51 pm

Ahh, the days of the “Triple Llindy.” The days of T-Shirts of Mickey Mouse giving Iran the middle finger… CIA/DIA bureaucrats ignoring imminent threat assessments by end users… The U.S. State Department honoring the request of the Lebanese which only allowed a certain number of “boots” on the ground…even during the MEDEVAC/CASEVAC of servicemembers post incident in Beirut…
Whew! Glad to see some things never change.

SickBoy on June 22, 2006 at 11:26 am

cdunlea,
Ever get picked upon by a schoolyard bully? Obviously not. You think that by kicking tail, we will become the laughingstock of the world. Well, Debbie is right. We just have to look at the Lybian dictator. Reagan bombed him when he was threatening…our airplanes, I think. Doesn’t matter. He learned his lesson. He stopped his little act. When we went into Iraq, he stopped his nuclear bit and surrendered his missle program.
Don’t tell me that a little “Rambo” tactics don’t work. It just takes one to learn that we mean business and others may fall into line.
As for the bloggers, they have a right to free speech. That is one of the things that our soldiers fight for. If you are so jealous of them, get your own blog.

Loser on June 24, 2006 at 1:34 am

Thanks for another great column, Debbie. Somehow we must find another Ronald Reagan! Could he ever get his message across – better than anyone since! And no one doubted his word, either!! If he said it, he meant it and you’d better sit up and take notice! Of course, it helped tremendously that he was smart enough to surround himself with trusted intelligent advisors.

JASCC on June 24, 2006 at 4:33 pm

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