Saturday, June 26, 2010

Does being calm mean Obama's unengaged

Remember how during the campaign, pundits oohed and ahed about how calm Obama was in the face of his adversaries. It was that calmness during the financial crash in the fall of 2008 that had people like Christopher Buckley and David Brooks melting in admiration.

But now the guy is president and suddenly analysts, like Richard Cohen of the Washington Post are asking themselves - what does this guy believe in? Well, Mark Steyn has the answer. Obama is unengaged unless it's about him.
But what do McChrystal’s and BP’s defenestration tell us about the president of the United States? Barack Obama is a thin-skinned man and, according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, White House aides indicated that what angered the president most about the Rolling Stone piece was “a McChrystal aide saying that McChrystal had thought that Obama was not engaged when they first met last year.” If finding Obama “not engaged” is now a firing offense, who among us is safe?

Only the other day, Sen. George Lemieux of Florida attempted to rouse the president to jump-start America’s overpaid, over-manned, and oversleeping federal bureaucracy and get it to do something on the oil debacle. There are 2,000 oil skimmers in the United States: Weeks after the spill, only 20 of them are off the coast of Florida. Seventeen friendly nations with great expertise in the field have offered their own skimmers; the Dutch volunteered their “super-skimmers”: Obama turned them all down. Raising the problem, Senator Lemieux found the president unengaged and uninformed. “He doesn’t seem to know the situation about foreign skimmers and domestic skimmers,” reported the senator.

He doesn’t seem to know, and he doesn’t seem to care that he doesn’t know, and he doesn’t seem to care that he doesn’t care. “It can seem that at the heart of Barack Obama’s foreign policy is no heart at all,” wrote Richard Cohen in the Washington Post last week. “For instance, it’s not clear that Obama is appalled by China’s appalling human rights record. He seems hardly stirred about continued repression in Russia. . . . The president seems to stand foursquare for nothing much.

“This, of course, is the Obama enigma: Who is this guy? What are his core beliefs?”

Gee, if only your newspaper had thought to ask those fascinating questions oh, say, a month before the Iowa caucuses.
So he seems disengaged on Afghanistan and the oil spill. He outsources his economic stimulus and health care policies to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. This financial plan was outsourced to that marvel of financial probity and insight - Chris Dodd.

People were so impressed with the idea of Barack Obama that they were less interested in his ideas.
To return to Cohen’s question: “Who is this guy? What are his core beliefs?” Well, he’s a guy who was wafted ever upward from the Harvard Law Review to state legislator to United States senator without ever lingering long enough to accomplish anything. “Who is this guy?” Well, when a guy becomes a credible presidential candidate by his mid-forties with no accomplishments other than a couple of memoirs, he evidently has an extraordinary talent for self-promotion, if nothing else. “What are his core beliefs?” It would seem likely that his core belief is in himself. It’s the “nothing else” that the likes of Cohen are belatedly noticing.
So Obama could make ridiculous claims about how he was going to give everyone a tax break and not change anyone's health care but still make all these monumental changes and additions to our government responsibilities all while cutting the deficit. It was foolish then and dangerous now. But the media was unengaged on those questions, too charmed by their cool, collected, yet unengaged idol.