Saturday, January 16, 2010

Obama and Reality

Miguel A. Guanipa
The rather peculiar manner in which our current president reacts to what at face value is perceived as an imminent crisis versus the contrived serenity (some would call it aloofness) with which he confronts what by all accounts can be classified as bona fide disasters raises some important questions about the true character of the man we still know so little about. This is even truer when when in hindsight, many of these so-called crises can be fairly characterized as no more than the overstated prognosis of hurdles that never materialized, while the alluded-to disasters are real, irrevocable tragedies that could have been prevented in the first place.

Consider, for example, the severity of President Obama's rebuke to his detractors at the genesis of his administration, when he cautioned that the world's financial markets would collapse unless everyone indiscriminately supported his drastic measures to address the looming economic downturn. He wielded a similar iron fist in Copenhagen, in tandem with other anxious world leaders, and berated a complacent world for not sharing his sense of urgency to avert the coming global climate Armageddon. Both deliveries were served promptly, vigorously, and with a potent supply of moral exigency. Yet it is fair to say that as far as real scientific consensus is concerned, one of these dire predictions is simply not in the cards for at least another couple of centuries (if at all), while the other is a posthumous economic catastrophe that we were presumably spared from in lieu of virulent remedies which are now posing a greater hardship than the anticipated woes.

Now examine by contrast the president's initial reaction to the news of a dedicated Nigerian terrorist boarding an airliner with a homemade bomb snugly tucked in his underwear. Airport security scanners have yet to encounter a more impenetrable fortress -- but I digress. Shortly after a somewhat disjointed, impromptu spiel (presumably intended to reassure the country that he had been duly made aware of the potentially catastrophic incident), the president was all too eager to resume his snorkeling sessions -- evidently the next vacation activity scheduled after the few rounds of golf that preceded the rather inopportune press conference. He was on vacation, after all.

The president made an even less valiant effort to veil his appalling indifference on the heels of a tragedy that has too quickly faded from the popular consciousness. The latter transpired in Fort Hood, Texas, when a disgruntled jihadist executed fourteen innocent people in cold blood (the unborn baby of a pregnant victim included). In what called for a more solemn disposition in deference to the relatives of the victims of this atrocious attack, the first few minutes of the president's expiatory (but no less phlegmatic) address included some precursory remarks about a Native American relations event he had just attended and a jovial "shout-out" to one of his acquaintances present in the audience. If Obama wanted to convey that terrorism is the least of his concerns in his agenda, he did a superb job at that particular conference.

But from a more charitable point of view, one may surmise that our young president is striving to remain cool, calm, and collected in the wake of what he recognizes are panic-engendering tragedies. At the same time, he wants to appear genuinely concerned about the unavailability of reliable health care and the negative repercussions of a protracted economic slump for millions of the already less fortunate. But this does not satisfactorily explain his initially tepid response to concerns that rank very high on the scale of fears that most Americans live with -- and the ferocious urgency with which he undertakes his own pet issues, one of which is steadily losing support from even some in his own camp.

A more sober assessment would accurately characterize Obama's first response as the intuitive reaction of a reckless, aloof, and shockingly indifferent commander in chief -- one who is disproportionately concerned about things unlikely to happen and supremely disinterested in tragic events that are bound to be repeated if we do not take the necessary precautions. This posture has been labeled as a pre-9/11 mindset.

What is at play here is that Obama is a man for whom all other issues are marginal when compared to his own agenda. Thus he has not yet learned how to respond to crises other than the ones theatrically crafted by him and his minions as vehicles to accomplish this agenda. When it comes to a real crisis like a domestic terror attack, Obama is a man in a perennial holding pattern, waiting for his media-savvy advisers to prod him to address things inimical to the progressive milieu he inhabits. Such crises are to him as background noise, but they unexpectedly register as grave concerns to the populace. And so he displays a curious detachment from reality. He stumbles, as many people feared long ago, upon that which he is ill-prepared to address with the gravitas befitting a president. Yet as unconventional as his responses are, it is a safe bet that President Obama has finally gone past the point of being immune to the stagnating element of predictability.

The great leader has emerged, and he has been found wanting. Except perhaps for the barely-sentient Obama groupie, sooner or later everyone will come to realize that it takes more than just proper diction to be an effective leader. Sure, eloquence may fool some at first. But eventually, the real man behind the words must surface, and what a colossal disappointment -- especially for those who had vested such vain hopes in him -- has Mr. Obama turned out to be in so many respects. How paltry and useless his renowned oratory skills have proven in sparing him from this cruel destiny. The premier lament is, of course, that this decisive epiphany did not dawn upon the faithful prior to his coronation.

Page Printed from: at January 16, 2010 - 04:27:34 PM CST