To start with, no less than New York Times Op-Ed columnist Maureen Dowd says this about President Obama in her piece, “Is Barry Whiffing?”: “How can we accept these reduced expectations and truculent passivity from the man who offered himself up as the moral beacon of the world, even before he was elected?” She also points out that the president’s explanation of his foreign policy “doesn’t feel like leadership. It doesn’t feel like you’re [Obama] in command of your world.”
If that doesn’t worry you, try this from Dr. Richard Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, who wrote in “A Foreign Policy Flirting with Chaos”: “We are witnessing an accelerated movement toward a post-American world where governments make decisions and take action with reduced regard for U.S. preferences.” Haass also points out that President Obama’s ineffective foreign policy has often led us to situations where this administration “must back off its declared goals, which makes America look weak and encourages widespread defiance.” Based on my own observations from traveling around the world, you might also add that world leaders are becoming increasingly ambivalent about even meeting with the president, vice president and secretary of state — because they have determined that there is little utility in doing so.
Maureen Dowd and Dr. Haass are fair-minded, artful people. Neither has a bias against President Obama, nor does either want to find problems where they don’t exist. When they both ring alarm bells, it’s time to take notice. I think a little panic is in order.
Their criticisms focus mainly on foreign policy, but there is a lot more wrong with the Obama administration’s policies. Don’t forget, we just learned that gross domestic product growth was only 0.1 percent for the first quarter of 2014, and polls show that Democrats are almost in a full-out, every-man-for-himself, abandon-ship mode.
I’ve been at the White House when it has been taking a pounding from all sides. The inner circle gets smaller, and the rest of the staff tries to either put on a brave face or acknowledge the problems and quietly point fingers. Democratic insiders tell me the Obama inner circle now only consists of the president, Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough — and not everyone agrees on McDonough. Whether or not the president takes any criticism to heart and tries to change course seems unlikely based on what we have observed so far.
Every president experiences periods when he is unpopular or facing difficult decisions. But I don’t remember another president in my lifetime who has reached such a diminished state with so much time left in his term. We have more than two and a half years left under President Obama. We have to realize we will pay a price for this president’s lack of leadership. No one knows what the headlines will be next week, next month or next year, but nothing this president does seems to be shaping the world in a way that makes America stronger.
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