On June 30, 1863, Brig. General John Buford and his cavalry entered the small town of Gettysburg. Buford quickly realized that a large force of Confederates were maneuvering into a tactically superior position.
Two great armies were about to clash.
The lay of the land was, for Buford, a crystal ball into the next day’s battle.
He foresaw Lee’s forces taking the high ground; the hapless Union General George Meade reacting slowly and cautiously and then, finally, ordering a brave but suicidal charge that could only end with the slaughter of the Union army and the loss of the war.
Buford acted quickly and decisively. He deployed his courageous troops in skillful defensive positions, held back the determined Confederate forces and allowed the Union troops to seize the strategic high ground and ultimately win the battle of Gettysburg thereby turning the tide of war.
A quick shout-out to actor Sam Elliott, whose portrayal of Buford in the splendid four-hour movie Gettysburg (1993) invariably brings tears to Seraphic Secret’s eyes so precise, steely and intelligent is Elliott’s skill in this difficult role.
Buford led from the front and read the battlefield with almost supernatural clarity. Coupled with the incredible bravery of the dismounted cavalry of his First Corps, Buford selected the ground and then exploited every fold and ridge—the defense of Little Round Top, the Union flank, was much like the Israeli tank defense of the Golan Heights in ’73—leading to a costly victory.
Such genius is rare, but in the life of a nation, necessary.
Heads of state must also know how to read the ground; they must understand every nuance of the international landscape and move with wisdom and bravery in the national interest.
Last week, explaining Barack Obama’s collapsing foreign policy, The New Yorker quoted a White House claim that Obama is, “Leading from behind.”
A deeply Orwellian turn of phrase.
And in truth, the writer Ryan Lizza paints a devastating portrait of a chaotic and incomptent POTUS.
This from the New Yorker, not exactly a bastion of conservative thought.
By undermining America’s allies, England, France, Israel, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, etc., and trying to get all Kumbaya with totalitarian monsters like Syria and Iran, Obama has convinced foreign powers that America is an unreliable if not treacherous ally.
One other note about the great John Buford. He was born in Kentucky but raised in Illinois. His father was a slave-owner, a prominent Democrat who was a bitter opponent of Abraham Lincoln.
Buford had every reason to join the Southern cause. But John Buford’s moral compass was exquisitely calibrated and he committed himself to the Union, thereby transcending the broken morality of his upbringing.
Barack Obama does not lead from the front.
His moral compass seems, at best, unsteady.
And instead of transcending his radical roots including 20-years as a faithful member of Jeremiah Wright’s Jew and America hating church, Obama marinates in the foul identity politics that are the bread and butter of modern progressives.
Certainly, Mr. Obama cannot read the battlefield.
I’m not even sure he’s aware of the existential war being waged against free nations by radical Islam.
At a time when America and the free world need a General John Buford, we have instead a community organizer sowing chaos from the rear.