Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"The Campaign's Over, Obama; It's Time To Lead"

Thus writes John Kass in the excellent article by the same name, The campaign's over, Obama; it's time to lead (Major h/t to my friend, SusanUnPC for the heads up on this article). No freakin' kidding - Obama needs to stop with all of the damn press conferences (can you believe he is getting ready to have ANOTHER one? What is this, Number 349 post-Jan. 20??), and get to work already!! But even disregarding that, Kass writes:
In Europe, he chastised America for what he called our "arrogance." In the Caribbean, he gave the dictator of Venezuela a warm smile and a handshake, and called him "amigo." Before the Saudi king, he bowed low and long.

And just the other day, in a cynical nod to Turkish generals, the American president who campaigned for human rights quietly avoided the word "genocide" in a resolution marking the anniversary of the 1915 Ottoman Turkish slaughter of more than a million Armenian Orthodox Christians.

A few years after that slaughter, as he prepared to engage in his own genocide of the Jews, Adolf Hitler was credited with saying: "Who remembers the Armenians?" The United States may remember, but our president can't call it genocide.

Ah, yes, his trip to Turkey. Our guide in Turkey mentioned Obama's two days spent there in Iatanbul. He lifted up his hands, and his eyes to the heavens, and said, "yes, people here think he is the new savior." There was a tinge of irony in his voice, thankfully. I was glad he appeared not to have been sucked in by Obama's rhetoric. And all I could think was, "He has benefited from a GREAT marketing campaign, that man." I might add, there were VERY few responses to the guide's having said this, but in particular, there were no enthusiastic affirmations. Perhaps after Obama's unwillingness to call genocide what is is, there may be fewer Turks who see him as The Messiah.

Kass continues:
Still, President Barack Obama offers himself up to an adoring world -- and the enraptured, Hopium-smoking American media that helped elect him -- as a leader more flexible than his hopelessly rigid predecessor, George W. Bush.

And he's proved it, charming nations and their leaders, remaining in campaign mode, where he's most comfortable.

While in Egypt, at the Citadel and its two mosques, we were all on the bus getting ready to leave. One of the constant souvenir hawks kept talking to people on the bus, and said, "I love Barack Obama! He will change the world! I hate George Bush and Tony Blair!" Well, I couldn't disagree with his last assessment, but one of the other women on the bus, when he said Obama would "change the world, " muttered, "We'll see." Again, not an enthusiastic response from the people on the bus (different group, for the most part, too, by the way). But it is clear that the MSM, Plouffe, and Axelrod meme that Obama really is a change agent, in contradiction to his entire political history thus far, and his underhanded way of even getting into politics in the first place (getting everyone thrown off the ballot), has taken root abroad. People believe what they want to believe, facts notwithstanding. It's one thing for people in other countries to buy this stuff - they can't vote here. Quite another that people here bought it. But I digress.

Back to the USA and John Kass:
But last week, he bowed to his base in the hard political left by reversing himself, opening the door for the prosecution of Bush Justice Department officials who helped develop harsh interrogation policies for suspected terrorists.

Some call it torture and legitimately oppose it. Others say harsh interrogation -- such as waterboarding -- was necessary after the Sept. 11 attacks.

But what Obama accomplished by opening the possibility of political witch hunts was to offer up one of his own eyes to his political supporters. He needs both eyes to see a dangerous world.

The week began when Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, appeared on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos to reiterate Obama's pledge not to prosecute.

"He believes that people in good faith were operating with the guidance they were provided," said Emanuel, no fool. "They shouldn't be prosecuted. ... It's time for reflection. It's not a time to use our energy in looking back in any sense of anger and retribution."

Two days later, Obama abruptly changed course to please his anti-war base that demands a few severed political heads.

"With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say, that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general," he said. "I think there are a host of very complicated issues involved there."

His critics used phrases such as "chilling effect" on intelligence gathering, but I call it the pucker factor. In all bureaucracies, it rolls down hill.

Of course, Obama caved. Anyone who thought he would do otherwise was sadly mistaken.

As for his releasing of the Torture memos, a number of my fellow writers at No Quarter have taken this on, including none other than Larry Johnson, American Girl In Italy, and SusanUnPC, to name a few. No need for me to get into that with such stellar writers already dealing with it, except to say - once again, Obama did not consider the implications and/or ramifications of doing so, including, as SusanUnPC pointed out, the impact on some of his more sychophantic supporters like Nancy Pelosi. (If you haven't had a chance to read those, and others, I highly recommend that you do.)

Kass continues on the torture theme:
Reporters are kind of like intelligence gatherers. We don't waterboard politicians, but we're under pressure to get good information. So, let me tell you a story.

In 1985, I was a kid in the news business, and our gossip columnist, Mike Sneed -- now at the Sun-Times -- got the story of the year: "Reform" Mayor Harold Washington had been secretly taped pressuring a fellow to get out of the 3rd Ward aldermanic race. It sounded like raw politics. It didn't sound anything like reform. And Washington was enraged.

Jim Squires, then our editor, decided to publish transcripts but tell readers the tapes were leaked by Washington's white ethnic political opponents who wanted to embarrass him. Fair enough.

Then he ordered me and another young reporter to find Sneed's source and walk back the cat. I didn't want to do it, but he was the boss and Sneed understood, and after a few days, he dropped his harebrained scheme.

Yet for a long time afterward, sources worried they might be outed. Reporters were concerned their bosses might investigate their sources. And in the gathering of political intelligence, when sources start puckering up, they're not going to kiss you. You get scooped.

And some editors shriek, "How did you get scooped?!" even when they knew that the boss made a decision that sent spasms through everything. More spasms ensue. The pucker factor multiplies exponentially.

Now THAT is a quote for the ages, isn't it? "The pucker factor multiplies exponentially."

Kass makes his point:
Obama isn't an editor. He's the president of a nation targeted by terrorists and constantly probed for weakness, even by our allies.

His intelligence gatherers -- and others who give them the tools and the go-ahead -- can't spend their time wondering if he has their backs.

His statements surely sent spasms through bureaucracies that are vital to his own success and America's safety. All because he wanted to campaign, rather than lead.

Our president has a fine ear for language and nuance. Yet sometimes he shapes his principles to fit the moment, something anyone who watches Chicago politics understood years ago(Emphasis mine.). The Democratic machine candidates he eagerly endorsed for re-election -- from Boss Daley II to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger to disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- are testament to Obama's flexibility.

But he must stop campaigning someday, and start thinking like a chief executive. And he'll need both eyes to see where he's got to go. (

I could not have said it better myself. Except to say that it isn't just the intelligence gatherers who have to wonder if he has their backs, but ALL Americans. When the President of the United States goes abroad and insults the very people he was elected to serve, it does raise the question if he indeed does. Personally, I never suffered the illusion that he gave a damn about the American people - he seems to care about one person and person only: himself. Still, his position alone as POTUS would certainly IMPLY he has a duty to not trash us in other countries while apparently campaigning for Master of the Universe. Just sayin'.

And, while I know others are writing about this, a president who cares, really cares about the people whom he was elected to serve does NOT, DOES NOT, have a PHOTO OP of a 747 being chased by an F-16 Fighter Jet flying over lower Manhattan and New Jersey. The bubble surrounding this man and his inner circle is mighty thick, and mighty clueless. (If you have not yet heard about this incredibly insensitive, assholic move by the White House, click HERE and HERE for just two articles on this.)

If Obama is truly capable of leading, rather than just campaigning, and having his ego stroked, it is time, PAST time, for him to hop to it. And enough with the press conferences already, too. And the vacations (I've lost count, but it has been at least three in the first One Hundred Days. Feel free to enumerate them if you know of more!). And playing games while real issues are arising (golf, basketball, whatever). That is all to say, President Obama, get to work already.


Mary Ellen said...

I just LOVED the column that Kass wrote about Obama needing to get off the campaign trail. It was great. In fact, if not for John Kass I wouldn't even bother with the Chicago Tribune.

(Kass wrote a column about my granddaughter once...long story, I'll show it to you sometime, it will make you cry.)

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, ME!!

I really like his work, too. He seems like one of the VERY few journalists who are willing to tell it like it is...

Oh, I would LOVE to see the story abt your granddaughter, Mary Ellen! Please do send it when you get a chance!