Thursday, March 17, 2011


"What's stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics - the ease with which we're distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions."
-President Obama announcing his presidential candidacy

Present Obama
Not long after the terrorist attack on America on 9/11, Hillary Clinton expressed annoyance that her husband never got a chance like that while president to really shine. What she meant is that, given a really major crisis, President Clinton would have stepped up and been a great leader, someone who history would look back on as a giant among men. Whether that's true or not is unclear, although several crises did occur during the Clinton presidency and he's best remembered for shenanigans involving a cigar and an intern.

Yet during the 2008 presidential battle for the Democratic nomination, the Clinton camp came out with an ad questioning whether a President Obama would be able to handle that 3 AM phone call, the crisis that comes unexpectedly. We all got a preview during the campaign later when Russia invaded Georgia and seized part of its territory. Then-Senator Obama offered a vague statement wishing all sides would just get along; Senator McCain stood tall and specifically condemned Russia's aggression and gained in the polls as a result.

Now that we've had President Obama for over a year, we've seen what his mettle is under pressure. When faced with crisis after tragedy, President Obama has been ready to go on vacation, go golfing, and issue UN-style basic statements of vague disagreement. In short, he's proved the fears that so many had about him before his election: he's just not up to the job.

Obama's lack of leadership has been displayed in every single major event and crisis over the last fifteen months. When the gulf was filled with a layer of leaking petroleum, the Obama administration was slow to act, quick to downplay the event, and almost had to be forced to take basic steps to contain the oil. When unemployment continued to rise far past the point President Obama promised the "stimulus" package would prevent, he focused on health insurance legislation and overweight children.

As foreclosures continue to rise, as unemployment continues to hover close to double digits, as the dollar's value drops, President Obama has offered speeches and statements but no action. Even during the fight to pass government health insurance legislation, despite it being a key policy issue for President Obama, he stood by and had then-House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) lead. His main speech to encourage the passage was about how he'd look if it failed.

As the middle east erupts in rebellion and revolt, President Obama releases scattered, delayed and tepid statements of support, even as he cuts back spending on the initiatives President Bush set in place to bring democracy to the region.

Now, facing a crisis of budgetary disaster at home, President Obama continues to show no leadership. In speeches, President Obama calls for fiscal responsibility, he mentions unsustainable debts, and he demands congress find places to trim. Yet when it comes to the budget, even Politico notes that he "stays in the background."

As Japan deals with the aftermath of a massive natural disaster, President Obama holds special meetings on bullying and goes golfing, again. Then he has a special TV event showing how he fills out his NCAA college basketball tournament picks.

The left endlessly mocked President Bush for finishing up the reading of a book called The Pet Goat to children while terrorists attacked, but when it comes to a president who really does not and apparently cannot stand tall during a crisis, they tend to be more subdued or even silent. The United States has a peculiar and special kind of government, one which requires leadership from the executive department, and the American people look in vain for that leadership from President Obama.

Unable, or at least unwilling, to take a stand or make a strong decision on anything outside his preferred agenda, President Obama gives the impression of a man who has a list of tasks he plans to get done and treats world crises and events as interruptions to what is more important to him. Each time a new event arises and President Obama fails to take charge, he displays exactly the lack of executive experience and personal ability for the office he was voted into that even his fellow Democrats feared.

We were told that President Obama would learn in office, that he was uniquely ready to be president because he'd run a campaign. We were told that he was so gifted, so intelligent, and so special that he didn't need experience or temprement for the job. All of those absurd, plainly false predictions have been proven utterly wrong. Will he be given another chance to fail in 2012? We'll see.

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