The Tone Deaf President
I voted for him twice and must say he has terribly disappointed me. Of course, his opponents for the presidency were uninspiring and I believed Obama would do a better job. But in so many areas his indecisiveness has become painful for Americans and he certainly does not project an image of youthful vitality and strength. His ability to say the wrong thing, procrastinate, and do the wrong thing in his role as president are legion. This is not to say that he has been helped by the Republican obstructionists in the Senate and the House, but the majority of his wounds have been self-inflicted.[icopyright one button toolbar]
Many people, myself included believe he should have tackled the problems with the economy first when he came to office during the recession instead of concentrating on health care reform. This was certainly needed, but should have come after the economy stabilized. And whether or not “Obamacare” will prove to be successful is yet to be determined. Its rollout was an absolute disaster without having Obama on top of things to make sure all the technological flaws were handled before public enrollment began.
His latest gaffe in declaring that we had no strategy to deal with ISIS in Syria may have been true, but if so, it was his fault, and anyway it is not something a president should have said. He probably meant that the military and intelligence agencies were in the process of developing a more comprehensive strategy for dealing with ISIS, but that is not the way his words were interpreted. If we had negotiated leaving a residual military force in Iraq and had made the Iraqi government more inclusive, it is likely ISIS would never have achieved its control of so much territory and persecuted so many people.
Another recent example of his being tone deaf to the American public is the way he handled the riots after the police shooting of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri. After making a statement decrying the conflict, he was soon back on the golf course, sending Attorney General Holder to try and quiet things down. The contrast of the president playing golf while the riots were going on could not have been more vivid. Perhaps Obama could not have done more, but he should have looked presidential and not have been playing golf. In addition, wars were escalating in the Ukraine and Gaza during this period, so he should have been in the White House the entire time trying to craft policy on these issues. It was akin to Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Dispatching his Secretary of State to try and sort things out abroad was not the answer. As the purported leader of the free world, he should have been pushing our European allies to impose stronger sanctions against Russia that would have caused real economic pain. The most recent Russian incursions into Ukraine to counter Ukrainian military gains against the pro-Russian separatists were undoubtedly partially a result of Putin knowing that significant penalties would not follow. Though Putin may be seen as an autocrat and a bully, he is certainly getting his way in the Ukraine while Obama plays golf or sits back and ponders his next move.
Announcing to the world last year that there was a red line that Syria could not cross by using chemical weapons was another illustration of an Obama faux pas. He never should have said that in the first place if he were not going to act on his warning. When Syria went ahead and disregarded Obama’s words, he should have responded militarily with bombing or some other action that showed he meant what he said, instead of negotiating with Russia over Syria’s disposal of chemical weapons. And since Assad has apparently gotten rid of his chemical weapons, it has been reported that his military has been using chlorine gas against the rebels and the civilian population. Obviously, we are in a bind now as we do not want to weaken the Syrians to the point where they cannot fight ISIS effectively.
Not arming the moderate Syrian rebels early in the war was another error by Obama that allowed ISIS to gain the upper hand, since they had gained arms on the battlefield as well as buying them with support from Islamists in the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. We needed a strong force of moderate Syrian Sunnis on the ground to fight Assad as well as ISIS, and that has never been developed. Because of Obama’s gaffes and dithering, America’s standing in the world has suffered, with Russia and ISIS making gains in separate arenas. How much of Obama’s problems regarding foreign policy are his own and how much are the fault of his advisors will not be clear until the books are written post administration.