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Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 in 2012 Elections, 2016 Elections, Breaking News, Featured, Government, Health, International, Politics, Russia, USA Presidential Election 2012 | 16 comments

The Tone Deaf President

President_Official_Portrait_HiResI 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.

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  • jdledell

    So Obama is not perfect. The issues you pointed out are obviously true and Obama did not get the correct responses out there at the right time. I certainly do not expect the President to be omniscient. In effect he is CEO of the largest most complex organization mankind has ever seen. Every President has tackled the job as best they can, some better than others but all had about the same ratio of successes and failures. Obama is not only herding cats in Congress but all across the world, friend and foe alike.

    I also voted for Obama twice and I’m satisfied with my choice, especially considering the alternatives. Too many people, myself included, considered his campaign magic which led to an aura of almost the coming of the Messiah. Alas, it was not to be – Obama is human. I’m sure he, and historians will have a field day in the coming years to ponder the could of’s and should of’s in his 8 years in office.

  • sheknows

    Agree completely with Jd. Heaven knows, we’ve had much worse. BUt each president is the product of the times he serves in, and Obama has had some difficult times, to say the least.
    He inherited a destroyed economy and a vicious congress just to start. His accomplishments have pretty much gone unpraised, but the never ending Republican media machine has painted an image of him as a failure or a dolt.
    It’s too bad so many are still buying into it.
    If you are looking for perfection in an over-idealized president with your enormous expectations and a blind eye to actual achievements under the worst conditions possible, than your are sure to be disappointed.

  • dduck

    Well, I voted zero times for Obama, but I am not as disappointed as you 2Xers are. Sorry, having high expectations can cause low crashes. I am not gloating, however, we are in the same boat and I wish things were better. Yes, he was dealt a poor hand and maybe no one could have done the crack up job that we would have liked. I just hope, he can focus on the problems at hand and not have his attention diverted. We need him to perhaps try harder.

  • JSpencer

    I suppose the truth is somewhere between. While I appreciate the tremendous challenges the president has faced, including the utter uselessness of the political right, I also have the sense that we are, with each new president, adjusting our standards downward. This country is now more than ever run by and for the few percent in the highest income ranges. When is some brave leader going to tackle that?

  • I think it is a false narrative spread about Obama that he neglected the economy to tackle health care, as if he could do one and not the other. Obama was acting on the economy, even before he took office because both and McCain had no idea how to respond. Check out The Promise by Jonathan Adler for a good description of how Obama took charge even before taking office.

    Among other accomplishments, Obama got through the stimulus (which was highly successful even if a larger one would have done more) and saved GM.

    Obama handled Syria properly. He was preparing to attack for their use of chemical weapons, but was right in taking the opportunity for a peaceful settlement when Syria agreed to disarm.

    The latest gaffe re ISIS was no gaffe as I discussed here:

    Obama is doing the right thing by developing a coherent strategy, including building an international coalition, as opposed to going into Iraq with no strategy as Bush did. It was Bush’s failure to have a strategy, including plans for after Saddam fell, which led to the current crisis.

  • Marsman

    I also agree that there are things that should have been done differently. I do think that having the President go play golf is not so bad; he is not a host on a cable news show for whom everything that happens is the biggest, worst, most dangerous thing ever. I fondly remember Ike.
    My other hobbyhorse is the situation in Syria. Are there “moderate” rebels? Who are they, and what is their organization? When Sen. McCain went to Syria, I do not think he was looking for crazy radicals, but in his famous photop he is pictured with al-Qaeda and Jaghat al-Nusra guys who are reported kidnappers of Christians and one who reportedly ate human flesh ( this seems like an extreme report to me ). My counsel on Iraq/Syria is to be very cautious about getting involved. Go play a round of golf and think about …think a long time.

  • slamfu


    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.

    Lol, yea you could say that wasn’t the way they were interpreted and you’d be right. In the context of the rest of the speech he gave, he not only meant, but actually said that they were in the process of coming up with a more comprehensive strategy including the other interested parties in the region. Read the whole thing and it should clear up this gross misinterpretation of what Obama said.

    Not unlike the “you didn’t build that” meme, this “no strategy” meme is one based on being quoted out of context and is really frustrating. Sound to me like the President is pursuing exactly the correct strategy to deal with this ISIS issue.

    And the golf course thing is another overplayed intentional piece of media circus. They did the same thing with Bush, and I’m sure with Clinton too although I don’t recall it off hand. But Presidents are people, they take time off. And being the President, and more then ever held accountable for practically anything that goes wrong anywhere in the world, at any given time something awful is happening. So no matter when a President takes a break, you can show him doing so followed by video and editorializing on whatever crisis is going on at the time. And its not like Presidents really take days off. I’m certain that same day he played 18 holes, he had numerous briefings on Ukraine, ISIS, and whatever else was going on that we don’t even know about, and was in touch with those he needed to be in touch with.

    Frankly, I think things are complicated, and the tiny peek behind the scenes we get through the news media needs to constantly be put in context with the larger picture. Long story short, I think Obama is doing a pretty good job, especially on foreign policy. And certainly is doing a better job than the cowboys the GOP wanted to give the job to.

  • Shannon Lee

    think it is a false narrative spread about Obama that he neglected the economy to tackle health care

    I completely agree. The reason HCR was so messed up is because Obama was working on the economy while congress completely screwed the entire thing up.

    The whole golf thing is just silly. People cannot work non-stop for months at a time… or even weeks.. especially at a Presidents stress levels.

    The ISIS thing, out of context.

    Russia… not much we can do but press Europe to increase sanctions.

    I am sure he has made a lot of mistakes… a lot of stuff that we will never hear about. Nevertheless, I will take this inexperienced Senator over his former competition any day of the week.

  • rudi

    The riots in Ferguson were more civil disobedience and petty crime than real riots. Only a few were wounded and all petty crime happened along one street, the “riot” never spread.

    The violence started Sunday evening in response to the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. By the time it ended early Monday, more than two dozen businesses in Ferguson and neighboring Dellwood were damaged or looted.

    In the early morning hours of April 7, 2001, Cincinnati police in Over-the-Rhine attempted to execute an arrest warrant against 19-year-old Timothy Thomas, an African American male. Thomas was wanted on 14 nonviolent misdemeanor counts, including 12 traffic citations.[12][13] Thomas was pursued for 10 minutes by nine officers, who were later joined by Patrolman Stephen Roach.[2] The pursuit culminated at 2:20 a.m. when Thomas rounded a corner in a dark alley and surprised Roach, who shot him in the chest at close range.[12] Roach stated he believed Thomas was reaching for a gun in his waistband, but investigation later determined Thomas was trying to pull up his “baggy pants.” Roach also stated he was not aware of the nonviolent nature of Thomas’ charges and that Thomas ignored an order to stop.[8] Thomas was rushed to a hospital, but died of his injuries.[2]

    The total damage sustained from the riots amounted to $3.6 million.

    Widespread looting, assault, arson and murder occurred during the riots, and estimates of property damages topped one billion dollars. The rioting ended after soldiers from the California Army National Guard, the 7th Infantry Division, and marines from 1st Marine Division were called in to stop the rioting after the local police could not handle the situation. In total, 53 people were killed during the riots and over 2,000 people were injured.[3][4]


    Over the period of five days, 43 people died, of whom 33 were black and 10 white. The other damages were calculated as follows:

    473 injured: 182 civilians, 167 Detroit police officers, 83 Detroit firefighters, 17 National Guard troops, 16 State Police officers, 5 Wayne County Sheriff deputies, 3 U.S. Army soldiers.

    7,231 arrested: 6,528 adults, 703 juveniles; the youngest, 4, the oldest, 82. Half of those arrested had no criminal record. 251 Whites and 678 black Of those arrested, 64% were accused of looting and 14% were charged with curfew violations.[29]
    Economic damage

    2,509 stores looted or burned, 388 families rendered homeless or displaced and 412 buildings burned or damaged enough to be demolished. Dollar losses from arson and looting ranged from $40 million to $80 million.[30]

  • rudi

    Sports riots are more deadly and damaging, but white sports fans don’t riot, just celebrate.

    The city of Vancouver put its worst foot forward on Wednesday, rioting into the night after the Canucks’ loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

    Nearly 100 people were arrested and almost 150 injured in a widespread disturbance that included the burning of 15 cars and vandalism of approximately 50 businesses. Total damages are expected to run well into the millions of dollars.

    In addition to widespread vandalism and massive fires, the Associated Press reported that “rivers of poured-out alcohol, broken glass and trash made navigating the streets treacherous” in Vancouver.

    Seems Ferguson was safer than Vancouver.
    It’s not even safe in Canada.

    Canadian fans, often known for their manners, know how to effin’ riot. Sure, they’ll get fired up about the occasional Guns n’ Roses concert, but nothing brings out their dark side like the Stanley Cup, for obvious reasons. And 1993 showed that fans can be just as dangerous in victory as in defeat. After the Canadiens won the Cup, fans started looting and assaulting on St. Catherine Street, destroying not one, not two, but 47 police cars (!). 168 people were injured and damage was in the millions. Just imagine if they had won.

  • SteveK

    Mr. Levine had an August 19th thread that seems to be his lead in for this manifesto

    Funny… All the comments in that thread seem to have disappeared. I disagreed with him at length then but as comments have a way of disappearing in his threads I won’t waste my time here. I’ll simply say that I disagree with this entire rant.

  • rudi

    Funny… All the comments in that thread seem to have disappeared. I disagreed with him at length then but as comments have a way of disappearing in his threads
    It happens to all post that are archived. Need to notify tech support at TMV.

  • SteveK

    Hey rudi, I didn’t realize that they are archiving two week old threads. My mistake.

  • The problem with Obama is not what he does or doesn’t do but that he is tone deaf and has difficulty connecting with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and the American people. He doesn’t reach out to others in power to try and get things done. His inner circle just reinforces his words and actions. He needs to show some emotion at times and that he really cares about things.

  • slamfu

    I always thought that Obama’s problem is that he is effective but subtle and plays a long game. Which doesn’t work well with the infotainment diet that the American public demands. They want to see bombs dropped the second someone gets in our way. Take FOX News, basically swooning over how “manly” Putin is being. Obama hasn’t made big mistakes, not when you look at the whole picture. People who think Obama has been screwing up are the type of people who thing the USA controls everything that goes on anywhere. Egypt has a revolution, that’s on us. Boko Haram kidnaps girls, where was the USA? Egypt has a counter-revolution of sorts, again, our bad. They think the situation in Libya is the same as the situation in Syria when it is definitely not.

    Obama doesn’t connect with Republicans because they hate anyone in his job that isn’t one of them. They have made it clear they have no wish to connect no matter what Obama has on the table. They try to sue him even when he enacts things that they asked him to so something about. You can’t deal with loons like that.

    He doesn’t connect with Democrats because 90% of them are spineless twits who are essentially no more assertive than a political windsock, swinging this way and that based on what the latest poll says they should say. Case in point, the bulk of the Democratic party was silent when the ACA was rolled out, waiting to see how it went down and not throwing support behind the law. Only now are they getting behind it once the PR heavy lifting has been done and the first reports are in and they are way better than they could have hoped for. Either you thought it was a good law or you didn’t, a step in the right direction or a step backwards. Unless you are a democrat, then you have to wait and see if a poll says people like it then you can support it publicly.

    I think Obama shows he cares for things based on having handled them with some foresight and statesmanship rather than a dog and pony show, even when what people want is a dog and pony show. The only areas I think Obama has really screwed up in are the ones where there wasn’t anyone else who would have done anything different, Republican or Democrat. Campaign finance reform and spying on Americans. Sadly, despite their importance, the American people are going to have to wait a long time before they have a choice for someone serious who plans do anything about either of those two issues.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    I guess I deeply hold that most heads of state keep their cards close to their chests. Dorian and I were just talking the other day because we’re old enough to remember “loose lips sink ships.” Meaning to say aloud what youre going to do in killing war, before you do it, is foolishly putting all elements known via any effective strategy including those listed by von Clauschwitz sp. to foolish squander.
    Not everyone believes what ‘our govm’t’ says from the dais re war rumblings. I personally give most heads of state, including our Prez, the benefit on public persona, private disclosure. I dont think any head of state owes the citizenry a peek into actual planned strategies — and therefor ‘loose lips’ rampant.

    I guess given study of the Argonne, invasion of Poland, Hungary, Sudetenland sp. Czechoslovakia, now Crimea, then the Tet, the African campaign in the deserts WWII– I find most sane head of state and military operations to, you know, have security clearances only for those who actually are part of the planning, far far in advance of the action most of the time.

    When I look around the world at world leaders, I can think of two dozen minimum who would make Barack Obama look like a bold action figure. I can also think of two dozen world leaders who were they the head of state here, would shut down and imprison and kill many many.

    I’ve liked most presidents. Doesnt matter to me what party. But also, if youve ever raised children, even one… you know just one soul being guided through the wars of everyday life, is impossible to do perfectly in terms of helping in every way, even though you try hard daily, let alone attempting to listen to, guide, help, boundary 280M, plus territories.

    I’ve often thought what would I do when after meeting smiley geo bush outgoing on the tarmack, having geo slap me on the back all ha ha, and NEVER mention that not only the US, but the ENTIRE WORLD had just tipped into the worst massive embezzlement in investments ever in the history of history… and that geo presided over the luge that took everyone down, people losing their homes in the MILLIONS, people losing their jobs AND their homes… and fat cats expecting obama to act like geo, showing up to ‘talk’ alighting from their private jets. I dont know what I’d do, but for certain, there’d be grand juries and quite a few put at risk to be turning in their Hathaways for puke green.

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