Monday, June 23, 2014

Lost In the Dark

Obama: Savior or Destroyer? Saint or Devil? 

Among the many, many frustrating aspects of politics over the last 6 years has been a tendency to cast the President in terms of absolutes, usually from the same side. Yep, the same right wingers who decry everything Barack Obama does will dig at his supporters as some kind of starry eyed cultists who believe in the sacred miracle that is the very existence of Barack Hussein Obama. "We're the ones talking truth to power," say various right wing ideologues, "while these Obama supporters don't dare see anything wrong with their precious President."  

Of course that's bullshit. Now maybe that might fly with a Republican President. At its best, the GOP machinery is particularly adept at keeping everyone on message. Democrats, by their very nature, are more fractious. There are a lot of people on the left who aren't happy with Obama; if the right thinks Obama is trying to get away with too much, the left thinks Obama has not done enough. 

The point is that truth, as it tends to be, is more in the middle. Obama's just this dude, OK? He's got the toughest job in the world and millions of people eager to make it tougher at every opportunity. I think he is a good man trying to do what he thinks is the right thing which, in the end, is all we can ask of any President.  

If there is anything that would disavow anyone of any illusions about Obama's "perfection", it's the President's glaring apparent lack of political instincts.  

The whole mess that spun out of the release of Bowe Bergdahl from captivity in Afghanistan could not have been more badly played by the Obama Administration. I'm sure some gung-ho politico saw a chance to make President Obama look with the military by bringing home a prisoner of war. Given the recent scandals surrounding poor service at VA hospitals, Obama needed all the good will he could get from America's service men and women.  

Yet Obama and his team appeared blindsided by so many elements of this story: 

  • The animosity of soldiers towards Bergdahl's behavior that led him to being taken by the Taliban in the first place. 
  • The outrage at the release of 5 Taliban fighters being held at Guantanamo Bay. 
  • The concerns over the White House's secretive plans for this exchange. 

Now this is not a defense or an indictment of how this whole Bergdahl thing was handled. My main concern here is this. All that blowback that came in response to this deal? The White House did not seem to anticipate it. 

The recent escalation of violence in Iraq instigated by the militant group ISIS is a cause for lots of concern. Yet as the violence ratcheted up against the Iraqi people, the White House seemed taken aback by the outrage that we were doing nothing to help. Granted, the GOP will tack to the opposite side of whatever position Obama is on. Still, did it not occur to anyone in the White House that maybe this country that we invaded BY CHOICE and invested a lot lives and money and did I mention lives, maybe we should do something to protect that investment of blood and treasure (if not to actually, you know, save the lives of innocent Iraqis).  

Over the last 6 years, I've watched the Obama Administration squander politically valuable opportunities that would have put the White House is a position of strength and instead wind up on the defensive. 

  • Budget battles where Obama, holding the upper hand, still capitulated to Republican party leaders. 

  • The Obamacare website fiasco that somebody should've seen coming. 

In the final analysis, I will say again that President Barack Obama is an OK dude, just trying to do the right thing is a world that has other plans and against political opponents who pounce on every real and perceived misstep. This President has put up with way more shit than any other President, it seems. 

But after 6 years, has Obama and his team learned anything about politics? The importance of recognizing and, yes, even controlling the political elements of a situation is just not good from a selfish standpoint. Americans need the President to be sure, confident, in charge. Being blindsided by political fallout does nothing to assure people. 

It's not a big national confidence booster when the President appears to be lost in the dark. 

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You


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