James Taranto eviscerated Thomas Friedman’s article in this column. Still, this part of Friedman’s column needs more evisceration:

These days there is a lot of “if-only-Obama-could-lead-like-Reagan” talk by conservatives. I’ll leave it to historians to figure out years from now who was the better president. But what I’d argue is this: In several critical areas, Reagan had a much easier world to lead in than Obama does now.

I don’t need years to decide who the better president was. President Obama is the worst modern president, worse than even Jimmy Carter. Friedman’s argument that “Reagan had a much easier world to lead in than Obama does now” isn’t serious stuff. Obama’s world isn’t tougher to lead. It’s that President Obama won’t lead.

It’s shameful, too, that Friedman has forgotten the catastrophe that President Reagan stepped into. During the last half of Carter’s administration, it was fashionable for pundits to talk about how the world had grown too demanding for a president to handle it himself. The fashionable talk then was the need for a co-presidency. Friedman’s column didn’t dismiss this information. Friedman ignored it entirely.

When Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire”, doves like Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Joe Biden criticized Reagan as being utterly naïve. Their opinion was that détente was the only way to manage the Soviet Union.

President Reagan emphatically disagreed. President Reagan was right.

The chief reason why Friedman can look back and say that President Reagan had it easy is tied directly to the quality of President Reagan’s decisions. In hindsight, it’s easy to see the wisdom of President Reagan’s strategy. President Reagan’s strategy was revolutionary and contrarian to everything that the establishment thought. The Soviet empire couldn’t be defeated, the realists told us. President Reagan will get us into WWIII with that Neanderthal thinking, they told us.

President Obama’s world is complicated, too, partially because his attachment to a failed ideology has informed him that being liked is more important than being feared. President Obama said that his administration’s first responsibility was to end wars, which sounds great until you think things through.

George Will recently said that the fastest way to end a war is to lose it. President Obama unilaterally repeatedly declared that war will be part of the past during his 2012 campaign. ISIL didn’t get the notice.

Shortly after 9/11, a reporter told Mayor Giuliani that, on 9/11, terrorists declared war on the United States. Giuliani’s response was that that isn’t true, that terrorists had been at war with the US for years, if not decades. It took 9/11 for us to finally confront the terrorists.

This paragraph needs dismantling:

Obama’s world is different. It is increasingly divided by regions of order and regions of disorder, where there is no one to answer the phone, and the main competition is not between two organized superpowers but between a superpower and many superempowered angry men. On 9/11, we were attacked, and badly hurt, by a person: Osama bin Laden, and his superempowered gang. When superempowered angry men have more open space within which to operate, and more powerful weapons and communication tools, just one needle in a haystack can hurt us.

That’s why President Obama’s strategy to pull our troops out of the world’s biggest hotspot was instantly viewed as foolish. That’s why President Bush’s strategy of taking the fight to the terrorists where they live was instantly seen by serious people as the right option. The Commander-in-Chief can’t afford to let “superempowered angry men” have “open space within which to operate.”

President Reagan understood the importance of confrontationalism in fighting the Soviet empire just like President Bush understood the importance of confronting terrorists in their sanctuaries.

It isn’t that Reagan had it easy. It’s that he knew what he was doing. President Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. That’s the chief difference between presidents.

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