It's probably abusing the privilege somewhat, but a portion of James Bowman's media column in the April New Criterion is so good that I'm going to quote it at length. It's a devastatingly sharp critique of the fatuous Mr. Obama's assertion that he is always "on the right side of history."
...Mr. Kerry, when interviewed on Face the Nation about Russia’s “incredible act of aggression,” found his credulity taxed. It was because “You just don’t in the twenty-first century behave in nineteenth-century fashion by invading another country on [a] completely trumped up pretext.” Well, you don’t. Other people, who haven’t got the memo about history’s changeover from nineteenth- to twenty-first-century international norms, might still behave differently—“incredible” as that may seem to someone grown, as so many progressives have grown these days, accustomed to regarding “history” as a compliant imaginary friend. A wiser man than Mr. Kerry might have taken the Russian démarche as a sign that “history” is not what he thought it was. He might even see one or two other signs that the twenty-first century is going to look a lot more like the nineteenth century—or even the eighteenth century—than anyone might have supposed only a few years ago. My own darkest suspicion is that it is likely to be the seventeenth century, with its religious wars, that will provide the better model for our future.
Back in the third, or Bob Schieffer, debate of the 2012 campaign—the one in which, as various commentators suddenly recalled, Mr. Obama mocked the hapless Mitt Romney for having said that Russia was our number one geopolitical foe—the President also dealt as forcefully as he knew how with those who, like Mr. Romney, would have questioned his leadership:
And they can look at my track record, whether it’s Iran sanctions, whether it’s dealing with counterterrorism, whether it’s supporting democracy, whether it’s supporting women’s rights, whether it’s supporting religious minorities, and they can say that the President of the United States and the United States of America have stood on the right side of history. And that kind of credibility is precisely why we have been able to show leadership on a wide range of issues facing the world right now.
Leadership to him means standing, rhetorically, at any rate, on the right side of history with democracy, women’s rights, and (bizarrely) religious minorities. Tell that to the Christian minorities in Iraq, Syria, and Egypt. It has little or nothing to do with forming or strengthening alliances or confronting enemies among nation states—which, in the progressive view, are pretty much obsolete in any case. It is an occasion for reaffirming rather than reexamining the progressives’ putative alliance with “history,” without which progressivism itself would be unimaginable. If history does not equal progress, then whither the progressives? Conversely, therefore, Russia is meant to be abashed by the news of history’s disfavor, which the President takes it upon himself to pronounce in no uncertain terms on history’s behalf. Here’s what he said the following Monday before a meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu: “And I think the strong condemnation that it’s received from countries around the world indicates the degree to which Russia’s on the wrong side of history on this.”
Do tell! A similar message, we may remember, was sent to the brutally oppressed Iranian protestors of the “Green Revolution” back in 2009. “After more than a week of being accused by Republicans and others of failing to live up to the American tradition of supporting pro-democracy movements,” the Guardian reported at the time,
Obama adopted much tougher language, going far beyond his previous expressions only of sympathy with the demonstrators. “The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings, and imprisonments of the last few days. I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost,” he said. He praised the women who had courageously took part in the demonstrations and “the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets.” The demonstrators would in the end be seen to be “on the right side of history.”
I guess it must be the promise of support from “history” that puts this “much tougher language” so “far beyond his previous expressions only of sympathy with the demonstrators.” At any rate, it is all the more unfortunate that, five years later, history still shows no signs of coming through for them. Like freedom-loving Ukrainians, presumably, freedom-loving Iranians will just have to be patient until the quasi-deity of “history” can get around to their problems. For now it’s busy conferring upon Americans its latest gifts, which are the Affordable Care Act and gay marriage....
The jihadists currently enjoying the revival of the custom, long abandoned in the West, of beheading their enemies, also no doubt believe that they are on the right side of history. But it's more important to them that they are on what they believe to be God's side. The vague appeal to history as "quasi-deity" is probably the residue of Christianity in the modern secular mind. Like most secular gods, it's a wispy ectoplasmic one, and the arguments for its existence are incoherent: what exactly is it in the nature of things that would cause unguided evolution-driven "history" to aim for something that progressives would consider to be utopia, which is implicitly their expectation? Or to aim at all? Nothing, as far as I can see. The shark and the cockroach, we're told, are fabulously successful, from the evolutionary point of view.