President Obama’s Alaska Purchase Zinger: Too Soon? Really?


Two of my favorite conservative bloggers, Ed Morrissey and Moe Lane, gave me a good chuckle this morning, and man, did I need it.  The subject is President Obama’s latest “gaffe.”  I’ll let my friend, Ed, introduce it:

Yesterday found Barack Obama in fine form while meeting with an audience comprised mainly of Russian business leaders, clumsily reminding them of a transaction that still rankles the Russians to this day, as Reuters explains:

Referring to the long history of Russia-U.S. trade stretching back more than two centuries, Obama told an audience of business people in Moscow:

“Along the way, you gave us a pretty good deal on Alaska. Thank you.”

Czar Alexander II’s sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867 for $7.2 million in gold, around 1.9 cents per acre, was regarded by Russians as a national disgrace — particularly once it became clear that the province was rich in oil.

Ed was characteristically measured in his criticism, calling the quip an insult, and an indication that the President might not understand diplomacy.  On the other hand, he called it his “Obamateurism of the Day,” so I guess, when you’ve already decided you’re going to do one of these every day, you’ve got to work with what you’re given.

Moe Lane, on the other hand, ratchets up the mock outrage, comparing the Alaska Purchase, by turns, to the Boxer Rebellion and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I get that blogging is all about hyperbole, but really?  The Alaska Purchase?  After 142 years and umpteen changes in the Russian government, I’m pretty sure the sting has worn off.  When it was originally made, folks here thought we got hosed.  How could anyone have foreseen that it would produce such a cash cow of a resource?  No, not Sarah Palin, I meant the oil.

This is the very best of the American story, people having the foresight and wherewithal to make something great where others saw only far-flung territories that they were too lazy to hassle with themselves.  We didn’t exploit the Russians here.

Hell, if the Russians had taken that money and bought IBM stock with it, then we’d be the ones getting zinged.

Is it possible that some Russians took offense to this?  I doubt it, and I’m a little surprised that a movement that accuses liberals of having “bleeding hearts,” and of the crime of empathy, would ascribe such wafer-thin skin to the Russians.

This is the nature of political opposition in Obama’s America, though.  There’s this alternate universe where Mr. Spock has a beard, and the President isn’t a duly elected leader worthy of reasonable scrutiny, he’s a bumbling amateur putting the country on a rocket sled to Hades.  (All worth it, by the way, if we get to wear those cool gold sashes.)

At the root of this, I believe, is a desire to get revenge for all of the bile that was spewed at George W. Bush for 8 years.  The constant refrain is, “Well, you did it to our guy.”

This ignores the fact that their guy was, at least, given a chance.  Remember that 90% approval rating?

I’m not going to sit here and catalog all the ways that Barack Obama is not George W. Bush, or produce a pile of actual Bush gaffes, because that’s not the point.  Obviously, conservatives think Bush was treated unfairly, but even granting that, is that a justification to treat Obama unfairly?  I suppose if you’re bartering tits and tats, it is, but I’m in the habit of setting my own standards, not obeying those of my opponent.


  1. I’ll take the word or Henry Kissinger on President Obama’s performance in Russia –: Obama’s like a “great chess player.” Obama could cure cancer, put millions in everyone’s pockets, cause world peace and they’d still piss on him. That’s the truth. I’m tired of constant intellectual dishonesty from the right.. And that’s a nice way of putting it. Ed is an easy going fellow and is a kind soul. Who’s Moe Lane?

  2. I live at the edge of what was Russias colony in the New World. They gave it up because they slaughtered the seals which were their main reason for being here. Their little empire abutted the Spanish in California and the politics of that was just not worth the return for their money, so they began to contract. They sold Alaska as a way out of a venture that the stupid inbred Czarists were no longer capable of handling given their endless crises in Moscow. I’m sure the Russians are familiar with this history and took no offense.
    It is obvious that as Cube says, they will piss on anything Obama does and it is plain dishonest. This has been my complaint all along. Everything they say and do is strategic, not from the heart or speaking to the truth. Come to think of it this is the very sort of thinking that made ‘liberal’ a dirty word. We did the same thing and the world paid dearly for it.

  3. Ya know though, in defense of Bush, Angela Merkle has just been an old sourpuss since he left. I think she misses those back rubs.

  4. Speaking of Alaska purchases, it struck me as odd that Alaska paid their lawyers by the hour and not by retainer. I figured, it’s a small state population wise, maybe they do things differently. Surely Sarah wouldn’t lie about something so easy to check, would she? She would!

  5. ok, Im gonna just play it dumb on this one…

    whats the big friggin deal about it?

    it WAS a good deal for us wasn’t it?

    and if Obama would have said, “Oh Snap…sorry dawg for busting your stacks on the Alaska deal back in the day.” They would have said he was on another leg of his apology tour.

    Its all becoming all so friggin’ funny!

    All I can say to all of this is..


Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s