Monday, June 22, 2009

The Procrastinator in Chief

Is it just me, or does President Obama seem to have a problem responding to certain issues in a timely manner? Granted, the job of being President isn't a weekend project, but there are times when a quick response is necessary to set the tone of an event to curtail critics on all sides of the issue.

I noticed how slowly Obama makes some decisions during the Somali "pirate" situation. Even though we got the desired result in the end, the decision to use military force to rescue the ship captain should have been made a lot sooner than it was. As events unfolded, the Obama Administration stayed quiet for days before deciding to pull the trigger. After the fact, it came out that Obama gave the order to use force on the Friday before the captain was rescued, three days after he was kidnapped. For someone of Obama's proported intelligence, three days is an eternity for him to mull over a simple decision and organize a response.

We've seen the same thing play out with his response to the Iranian elections. It took several days for Obama to issue what was at best a tepid, two-faced response. At first, he tried to keep his distance from the protests against what appears to be extreme voter fraud. Then, he backtracked to offer support for the protestors' desire for freedom. And it only took him about a week to say something that could have been resolved within 24-48 hours. The fact that our European allies came out with stronger statements more quickly than Obama did should be a point of shame for us.

Now, this isn't to say Obama is always slow to respond. Remember how quickly the Obama Administration responded to Rush Limbaugh, Jim Cramer, and Rick Santelli? Those responses were rapid and pointed. What also unites these responses is that they were issues that didn't require a quick response, nor were they as vital to national interests as the attention paid to them suggested. Seriously, you're spending time and energy on a talk show host?

Obama supporters are quick to praise Obama's delays on responding to bigger issues, citing that he's a deliberate thinker and is weighing all options to pick the best one. Critics say he delays because he's in over his head. Where do I stand? Consider me firmly in the latter category, especially when it comes to the Iranian situation. It shouldn't take more than 7 minutes to come up with "We support the Iranian people as they attempt to resolve their election difficulties and determine a winner," but seven days? For the length of time taken to issue a statement and the wishy-washy tone of the statement, Obama bungled badly.

One has to wonder what these delays on major issues has on our world image. Contrary to popular belief, Obama isn't as popular around the world as he was on the campaign trail because he really does look ill-prepared for the job of being President. Our enemies, of course, love him because of that, but our allies have to be wondering what happened to the calm, intelligent man who won the hearts of the world. World politics isn't like student council, where you can vote for a popular kid who flounders at the responsibilities of the position and it doesn't really have an impact. The world still takes its lead from us, or at least did until we saw how Obama handled geopolitical issues. When France beats us to the punch, as they did with the Iran situation, it's not a good sign.

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