A serious president? No, an absentee president

by George Landrith

We already knew that the economy is sluggish and in trouble. But now we learn that the economy is far weaker than previously understood. But that is not the only unflattering truth that has come to light. Our foreign policy and national security are also in far worse shape than we understood even a few weeks ago.

It isn’t just that job growth isn’t even keeping up with population growth. It isn’t just that the Federal Reserve has effectively thrown in the towel and admitted that there is no recovery.

It isn’t just that month after month, the jobless numbers are revised further downward — making what was bad news then, even worse news now. It isn’t just that the previous quarter’s economic growth was just revised downward by more than 20 percent.

It isn’t just that in recent months more Americans have given up hope and stopped looking for work than have found a job, by an almost 4 to 1 ratio.

It isn’t just that more than half of manufacturers and small business owners say that they would not have started their businesses in today’s climate. It isn’t even that well more than half of such business owners said that China, a repressive communist and totalitarian regime, is more supportive of its small businesses and manufacturers than the United States is, of its own.

It isn’t just that the Middle East is in flames and American embassies and consulates have faced violent mobs in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Yemen, Kashmir, Malaysia, and Nigeria. It isn’t just that on the anniversary of 9/11, we were inexcusably unprepared and caught flat-footed.

And it isn’t just that Obama has been deceptive about what happened in Libya, the actual cause, who did it, the timing, and what they knew and when they knew it.

It is all of these factors combined into a squalid mishmash of amateurish leadership, self-aggrandizement, childish blame-shifting, and blind adherence to failed ideologies.

But that is not all, Obama mixes into the reeking emulsion of bitter partisanship, amateurish leadership, demagoguery, and failed policies, a fundamental dishonesty. He does not actually debate those with whom he disagrees. He simply and grotesquely misrepresents their position and tortures it beyond all recognition. Once he has created a dishonest and false “straw-man,” he then battles only the straw-man he disingenuously fabricated — carefully avoiding any serious debate with serious people, and never seriously discussing ideas or solutions.

It is not clear whether it is simply a function of his penchant toward grandiosity or his lack of intellectual rigor, but this is the man who said his mere inauguration would cause hostilities in the Middle East subside. Today that statement is self-evidently absurd, but even on the day he first uttered it, it was inane.

On energy, Obama has consistently lowered the nation’s collective IQ by saying manifestly silly things. As a sitting U.S. Senator and as the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama argued against permitting any additional domestic drilling and said that instead we could save just as much oil as we could hope to obtain through drilling by simply inflating our tires and getting a tune-up. That is simply not even close to being true. Here are his own words:

“There are things you can do individually, though, to save energy,” Obama said. “Making sure your tires are properly inflated – a simple thing. But we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling – if everybody was just inflating their tires. And getting regular tune-ups. You’d actually save just as much!”

That is completely false and laughably absurd. If a high schooler made an argument like that in a civics class, they would fail the assignment. How is it that a sitting senator and a presidential nominee is so misinformed, yet speaks so confidently notwithstanding his lack of anything useful or intelligent to say on the topic?

Obama is intellectually lazy. He is, quite frankly, a lazy president. He likes being the president, but he doesn’t like doing the work of the president. He took a similar approach to being a state senator and a U.S. Senator. In Illinois, he voted “present” with shocking frequency. Once he arrived on Capitol Hill, he had little interest in doing the work of a U.S. Senator. Rather he almost immediately began running for higher office.

Once Obama became president, he left the work of actually governing to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. He never lifted a finger to pass a budget the last three years. Not a single Democrat, not even Reid or Pelosi, voted for those Obama budgets. Balancing the budget was apparently a laugh line for Obama.

The stimulus package, which clearly has not worked as promised, wasn’t even his work product — again, he left the heavy lifting to House and Senate Democrats.

Even his signature achievement, ObamaCare, was largely the work of Pelosi and Reid. Obama never rolled up his sleeves and worked to build compromise or consensus. As a result, he stood by while Pelosi and Reid rammed down America’s throat a wildly controversial and unpopular bill.

It isn’t so much that Obama is a bad leader, he simply is not a leader. When things go to his liking, he ungraciously claims the credit. When things go poorly, he blames others.

Obama meets infrequently with his jobs council, his own cabinet, or even leaders on Capitol Hill. It is shocking that as debt ceiling and budgetary issues loomed, he rarely met with congressional leaders to help forge an agreement. Obama attends less than one-half of his security briefings. He couldn’t be bothered to meet with foreign leaders in the aftermath of the recent attacks on our embassies and the death of four American diplomats.

Even the day after the death of our diplomats, Obama skipped his national security briefing to attend a fundraiser. And for good measure, while going to a political fundraiser and a political rally, he accused his opponent of “playing politics.” Yet Obama, nor the mainstream media never saw anything ironic about making such accusations while fundraising and campaigning after having skipped yet another security briefing.

Tellingly, Obama continues to claim the attack in Libya was caused by an obscure internet video — something that either his security briefing (had he bothered to attend) or even a little bit of common sense, would have told him was false. He refused to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but had time to do a fundraiser with Hollywood stars and an interview with a rap DJ known as “The Pimp with a Limp.” And rather than meeting with world leaders while they were in New York City, he was across town on the “The View” television variety show and proclaiming himself to be “eye candy.”

Interestingly, Obama left the actual work of being president to be done by Hillary Clinton. She met with leaders from the Middle East while Obama was “eye candy” on lightweight television show. And she will meet with Netanyahu soon, something Obama doesn’t have time to do. Simply stated, this is not a serious man and he has not been a serious president. He has been the absentee president — still effectively voting “present.”

And Obama gets away with it, only because the shameless and dishonest mainstream media cheer him as he tears apart the very straw-man he has so carefully crafted for precisely this phony show of intelligence and leadership.

There is almost always some rhetorical license taken by politicians when discussing the issues of the day or debating opponents. But Obama does this in the extreme and to stunning new lows. Can anyone forget Obama saying that Romney is a social Darwinist and that Romney seeks a society where if you are disabled or have downs syndrome, “you’re on your own?” And that is the norm for Obama, not the exception. He not only regularly crosses the line, he sprints enthusiastically to the side of rhetorical deception and outright dishonesty. If you examine his entire career, that is who Barack Obama is — a shady politician who speaks with the aid of a teleprompter in moving, glittering generalities.

So now after the thrill and excitement of “hope” and “change” have worn off, we must face the cold hard facts. By any objective measure Obama is a failure. He isn’t a serious president. He spends more time blaming and lecturing others, than working on solutions.

Just as Obama appears to be entirely detached from reality as he tells America and the world that some obscure YouTube video is to blame for the death of four American diplomats and the attacks on American embassies, he seems equally out of touch when he tells us that we are making economic progress and that we are on the right track and we just need to give him more time.

Time for what? More time to not meet with economic advisors or his cabinet? More time to blame others? More time to claim credit for any good news? More time for golf? More time to skip out on national security briefings? More time to be “eye candy” on the View? More time to skip out of meetings with international leaders during times of crisis. More time to stiff arm the Israeli Prime Minister so there’s more time to hang out with the “Pimp with a Limp?” Seriously? Is this really what the New York Times thinks passes for leadership?

Obama has yet to seriously explain why and how a second term will be any different or better than the first. He doesn’t seem to think that is even necessary. Which is only one more reason to question his seriousness and his leadership. A serious leader would honestly assess where we are and where we’ve been, describe where we want to go, and explain how he will chart the course to get there. But then again, that is what a serious leader and serious mind would do. And Obama is neither.

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George Landrith is the president of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government. Mr. Landrith is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was Business Editor of the Virginia Journal of Law and Politics. In 1994 and 1996, Mr. Landrith was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District. You can follow George on Twitter @GLandrith.