Mr. Obama speaks, but struggles for answers

The tragic Earthquake in Japan has made it impossible to steer away from politics today, but Mr. Obama spoke to the nation yesterday in a press conference that was important.

Not one word was spoken by him or anybody else about Wisconsin. The protesters will fail to get the message, but perhaps the day after a natural disaster killing over 1,000 people (and climbing) is not the best day to have another leftist day of rage. While one could argue that every day is a leftist day of rage, serious issues and the precious finite resource of time shall render these miscreants even more irrelevant than usual.

The world is on fire. That matters. Mr. Obama spoke for a few minutes on Japan and was at his finest. His remarks were completely appropriate. He expressed being “heartbroken,” and he seemed sincere. He clearly discussed exactly what America was doing to help. This is proof that when he cares about something, he will take action and honestly explain his actions. He would be a better president if he did that more often. Nevertheless, he immediately offered help and the Prime Minister of Japan immediately accepted it. Hopefully this will minimize the tragedy, even if slightly.

The explosion of a nuclear reactor in Japan means that President Obama must be prepared to deal with a global crisis. If he and the Japanese PM fail, people could suffer radiation damage for years. This is not a collective bargaining fight. This is trying to prevent the next Chernobyl. World leaders must succeed in stopping this carnage from getting worse.

One Mr. Obama stopped speaking about Japan, his pres conference turned for the worst.

Initially I pointed out that it was in poor taste for President Obama to shift gears and spend twice as much time discussing gas prices as Japan.

After reflecting on this, I have altered my opinion slightly. Before the Earthquake in Japan, he was scheduled to speak about gas prices anyway. This was a pre-planned press conference. Since that was the case, his remarks were not out of line. He still stubbornly clings to a green agenda, but Japan was not given short shrift.

The real problem with this press conference is that Mr. Obama is struggling for answers. He seems overwhelmed.

Since he is a liberal, naturally Chuck Todd of MSNBC got to ask the first question. Mr. Todd wanted to know if there was anything about the situation in Libya that would get Mr. Obama to use force against Khadafi.

Mr. Obama resorted to platitudes.

We are “slowly tightening the noose.”

No, we are not.

“We have seized his financial assets.”

Not enough of them.

There have been “conversations with NATO.”

Conversations? That is not action. That is talk, which even in a pre-inflationary environment remains cheap.

We have “moved about as swiftly as an international coalition has ever moved.”

This means nothing. Results are what matter. Khadafi is still killing his own citizens.

Mr. Todd persisted, asking if a cornered Khadafi would just unleash a murder spree and eventually hold on and win. Mr. Obama was a deer in the headlights.

“I am concerned.”

He is truly concerned about Japan, so he is doing something, and quickly. With Libya he is feigning concern. Real concern leads to real action.

He is going to “send a message to Khadafi.”

Unless that message is backed up by a credible threat of force, it is meaningless.

“The world is watching.”

Yes, and doing nothing.

We are supposedly doing “a wide range of options.”

None of which have worked.

We have to “balance the costs vs the benefits.”

This is not balancing a budget, which he also has failed to do. This is life and death. Human beings are being slaughtered. The real compassion he showed about Japan seems to have been an aberration, since he is as cold and clinical about Libya as he is about most things not related to healthcare, cap and trade, and union rights. When you care, you act. Period.

A budgetary question about continuing resolutions led to more insincere platitudes.

“Everybody needs to compromise.”

“We have to get serious about the budget but we cannot stop investing in our people.”

He cannot stop spending on garbage.

Jake Tapper of ABC asked a question about whether America was rushing coolant to Japan. Mr. Obama confirmed that he was, and again came across as steady and presidential on this one issue.

When Mr. Tapper asked about reports that Wikileaks treason monster Private Bradley Manning was being mistreated in captivity, Mr. Obama had every right to be irritated with the question. It was based on unsubstantiated rumors, and Mr. Obama properly dismissed it.

Chip Reid of CBS News brought the conference back to Libya, again putting Mr. Obama in a haze. Mr. Reid wanted to know if the United States could just stand by and watch innocent Libyans get slaughtered. He wanted to know if we have a moral obligation to help them. The answer is yes, but Mr. Obama has yet to grasp this.

“The international community has an obligation to do what it can to prevent a repeat of what occurred in the Balkans, in Rwanda.”

Ok, so what is his solution?

“24 hour surveillance.”

Then what? What will that tell you?

With constant monitoring, “you can see if defenseless citizens being massacred by Khadafi’s forces.”

Ok, and if you see this, then what?

He said these are “difficult judgment calls.”

Ok, so what will he do? What has he done?

“We sent a clear warning, Khadafi will be held accountable.”

What does that mean? What if he ignores the warning? How will Khadafi be held accountable?

This is where Mr. Obama fails miserably. In most situations he is scared to use force. Yes he is using predator drones against Al Qaeda, and doing a good job with it. Yet he refuses to talk about it. It is like he wants nobody to know he is using force. He is simply dovish, and Khadafi knows this. This is why Khadafi keeps killing his people because he knows there are no consequences. Saddam Hussein tested George W. Bush, and Dubya got rid of him. Khadafi has no such fears. Until Mr. Khadafi fears Mr. Obama, Libya will continue to vex our leader.

The next question dealt with Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The reporter wanted to know exactly what trigger would have to be hit for President Obama to tap the SPR.

This is the type of question that President Obama should refuse to answer. He smartly and clearly pointed out that he would not reveal that information. To publicly announce a trigger would simply alert our enemies.

This was another example of Mr. Obama clearly, quickly, and concisely answering a question correctly when he knew the answer. On Libya he simply does not know what to do, which is why his answers are long, rambling, and meaningless.

When asked what the 2 or 3 gravest threats are to the economy, he brought up gas prices and housing concerns. This was fine until he launched into a leftist defense of Head Start and PBS. He claimed we should tackle defense spending, tax loopholes, and entitlements. The first 2 are the only things leftists ever want to cut, and the third one he will not go near, preferring to kick the can down the road like everybody before him.

He was asked a tough question about whether America was propping up Middle East leaders. This provoked a response that showed how off base he is.

“We oppose the use of violence in response to peaceful protests.”

Ok, so what will he do about it?

“It is in the interest of the entire region to reform itself.”

They are begging for our help. We are ignoring them.

“We should be on the side of those who want to seize the moment.”

That means nothing. Of course we should be. Yet he isn’t. Empty words are fine in a press conference about domestic policy, where inertia is a great American tradition. Empty words are heard crystal clear by people in the Middle East. It tells dictators to ruthlessly crack down and kill at will. Did anybody notice that the Saudi Arabia day of rage was a failure? This is because the crackdown was so swift and severe that the protesters will never be seen again, assuming they are even among the living after today.

Being on the right side means showing guts, and Mr. Obama lacks guts.

While Mr. Obama was going to end the press conference at that point, he did the right thing by allowing one more question specifically because it came from a Japanese journalist. The questioner wanted to know what assistance would be provided, but he also wanted to know about Mr. Obama’s personal feelings on the subject.

This is where Mr. Obama gets it right. He is willing to use America as a force for good provided it does not involve military force or conflict. If it is something everybody supports and carries zero risks, he is fine with it. His answer was positive.

“We will provide whatever assistance they need. We will provide lift capacity.”

Whatever they need? Whatever it takes? Yes, this is good. He needs to do the same with Libya.

“I am heartbroken by this tragedy. You think about your own family, if you lost a loved one, or if you lost your life savings.”

With Japan, Mr. Obama is at his best. With Libya, he is at his worst.

If he could take charge on Libya the way he is on Japan, he could be a good president.

He can’t, which is why he isn’t.

With Japan, he knew the answers.

With Libya, he has no answers.

He had better find them soon.

It is a life and death matter.


Update: The Arab League has called for a No Fly Zone over Libya. If this does not give Mr. Obama cover to act, nothing will. He is an internationalist. Now he has the global backing from the Arab League. As expected, Khadafi is brutally cracking down while the world focuses on Japan. The rebels are being slaughtered. Either we act now, or Khadafi wins. Mr. Obama must lead, and he must lead immediately.


3 Responses to “Mr. Obama speaks, but struggles for answers”

  1. No, Obama must not “lead immediately” on Libya. That would obvisouly be foolhardy. It is great news that the Arab League is asking for a No-Fly Zone. It may not have much effect though. Khadafi can’t do much from the air anyway. He’s one of those old fashioned generalissimos who doesn’t believe in having a strong air force for fear it would bomb him in a coup. It’s much easier to manage things if they’re on the ground. He might not even make any attempt to shoot at the air recon anyway. That would effectively keep us out of the affair even with the NFZ.

    That leaves us with a very serious question – do we become much more actively involved with the rebellion. I’ve read stories from all sorts of sources, with all sorts of different takes on the rebels themselves, let alone the rebellion. It’s a very dificult situation. Any simple knee-jerk reaction would probably be a huge mistake.


  2. Micky 2 says:

    “Any simple knee-jerk reaction would probably be a huge mistake.”

    Like that knee jerk reaction you gave us last week ?

    “they dont want our help”

    Boy, were you ever wrong

  3. Dav Lev says:

    In todays LA Times, there are several articles on the war situation in
    Libya. They reveal how Moammar’s forces are routing the rebels, out of their quickly held areas along the coast. Using old weapons, (none heavy) against the modern Libyan army is futile, as the Borgs say, “resistance is

    Yes the Arab League has sanctoned a no-fly zone, so what!
    There is something wrong here. Egypt alone has hundreds of F16s, as does Saudi Arabia. Presumably their pilots know how to fly them.
    If you add in Jordan, Iraq, Algeria, Morocco, what is the problemo?

    Oh I guess, they are meant to kill Jews but thats about all.
    Expecting them to protect their own kind is asking too much.

    And so, the cries by the insurgents of, “Where are you Obama” is
    not being heard in Washington.

    While back in Israel, 5 members of an Orthodox Jewish family
    were murdered by 2 Palestinian thugs. Even the baby had its throat slit.
    Israel is mourning…with the usual blaming going around. Its the fault of
    the army, of lax security in the settlement, Pales incitement in all its

    I blame the murderers and Obama, for creating a climate which
    encourages this form of terrorism,,killing Jewish babies and children.

    Abbas says the Israeli P.M. has used this incident to inflame his people.
    The Pales are never to blame for anything I guess.
    What more can I say?

    There is also a war going on here, beween some Americans vs
    other (union supported) Americans. This is NOT a Republican vs
    Democratic issue. This is an issue that decades of worker’s rights
    have achieved, which ultimately are good for their employers.

    We are hearing that if unemployment drops 2 points, Obama
    is a shoe-in.

    Where are our heads? What are we thinking?
    I am betting that the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt,
    as it has done in Lebanon. Christians beware.
    With Obama still around, you know their next move, sending
    tanks to the border with Israel, opening up the Strip to Iranian
    arms, and Iranian ships steaming through the Suez Canal, to
    link up with Turkish ships.

    But I still believe Israel has the ability to defeat its enemies..
    if only it goes right.

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