Need proof that Obama can’t lead? Start at the South China Sea, work your way over to Ferguson, Missouri, visit the U.S. Capitol, hover over the Middle East, and end your journey in Ukraine. Every one of these places is proof that Obama can’t lead anything. There is one simple reason why. He doesn’t know how to bring people together. His strategy is to seek consensus, but unreliable, divisive leaders have a hard time doing that.
When a Chinese fighter intercepted a U.S. Navy jet last week we were quick to remember the 2001 collision between Chinese and U.S. military planes. Instead, we should have been looking at the bigger picture that includes China hacking U.S. defense computers, Russia engaging in destructive nationalism, Iran developing long-range missiles, the complete absence of policy in the Middle East, and the world knowing Obama will talk tough and back down if other nations aren’t behind him.
Obama can’t lead, so he relies on the strength of America’s past.
When Obama drew his line in the sand over Syria’s weapons of mass destruction, did he think that anyone would listen? Despite a record of purging U.S. foreign policy of George Bush, he fell back on the strength of past presidents whose leadership meant other countries listened when America growled. No one pays serious attention now except Vladimir Putin, who heard enough from Obama to let him know he could seize the day in Syria and make our president look like a fool. One downed and now forgotten jetliner later and we look even weaker.
Obama’s strategy of relying on America’s legacy doesn’t work because he can’t back it up and Congress won’t line up behind him. That’s where the president thinks the international community comes in, but White House policymakers don’t understand that the U.S. has always led that community. Other nations aren’t going to back us when Obama can’t lead and has a reputation for criticizing actions we took when the world supported us.
Governing by crisis is another sign Obama can’t lead.
Our president doesn’t head off problems. He tackles them when it is expedient to turn them into crises we can’t ignore. This is painfully obvious as we deal with a leaky Southwest border. It is dangerously apparent on the international front.
Americans were probably stunned to hear news reports of how much ISIS has grown (see: America, ISIS is a Big Problem). Many had probably never heard of the militant group until now. A new national security crisis in a country the White House took credit for leaving is further proof that Obama can’t lead and is a worthy complement to our absolute failure of leadership in the region.
Does the White House take the Hamas threat seriously?
Mideast policy under this administration has always been conflicted, especially when it comes to our relations with Israel. The press was quick to pick apart Benjamin Netanyahu’s remark that Hamas and Isis are the same. Our Muslim-empowering president will never be able to get his mind around that one, but the Israeli leader’s remark was on point, more so than National Security Advisor Susan Rice appearing to minimize the threat of Hamas to Israel:
Today is the first day of Av, the month when Jews commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples. It’s a reminder that the Jewish people have endured much worse than rockets and survived much stronger enemies than Hamas.1
Putin doesn’t ask permission in Ukraine.
Ironically, Israel and Russia’s leaders have more in common than Netanyahu and our president. Vladimir Putin doesn’t circle the wagons every time he wants to do something the world might disapprove of. We didn’t hear Putin asking permission to begin his incursion into Ukraine or to give sanctuary to Edward Snowden. Netanyahu will do what he deems necessary to defend Israel whether we agree or not. Right or wrong, leaders don’t seek permission. They give permission.
Obama can’t lead so he needs other countries to watch his back. The circle of friends talk over Iraq has been resurrected to deal with ISIS:
Friends and allies around the world, we share a common security and a common set of values that are rooted in the opposite of what we saw yesterday.2
We will fork out most of the cost and resources for dealing with this threat. Should condemnation of whatever we do in Iraq or Syria stop us any more than collateral damage in the Gaza strip stays Netanyahu’s hand or, for that matter, a downed jetliner halts Putin?
Manipulating doesn’t make you a leader.
Obama can’t lead, but he is very good at reciting the successes of his leadership. In an August 23, 2014 address pushing the Export-Import Bank he reminded us once again how the economy was rescued, first by his efforts and second by the American people:
Thanks to the decisions we made to rescue and rebuild our economy, and your hard work and resilience, America is leading again. Areas like manufacturing, energy, technology, and autos are all booming.3
The crush of the recession over, the White House seems eager to hunker down and have some fun. The Michael Brown circus will go on until the November election, but for the time being the White House is sending not one, but three representatives to the funeral. Holder’s visit last week won’t do much to quell the racial divide that will play into Democratic hands this fall, but this is a community organizer at play, not a leader. Manipulating the emotions of the people after a tragedy to further your political goals is not leadership. It’s fraud.
Barack Obama’s rise to our highest office was stunning, proof good handlers and media people can put anyone in the White House. His official biography puts a good spin on his background:
President Obama’s years of public service are based around his unwavering belief in the ability to unite people around a politics of purpose.4
Believing in the ability to unite people and being able to unite people distinguishes an organizer from a leader. Obama can divide but he doesn’t know how to bring people that disagree together. That makes him a rabble-rouser and is the simple reason Obama can’t lead.