The UK Calls Obama On un-Presidential Memorial Day Behavior

Posted by on Jun 2nd, 2011 and filed under Defense. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry from your site

Fair or not, part of being a successful President is appearing Presidential. For people both here and abroad that means that the leader of the free world should be dignified in his mannerisms and respectful of traditions and sentiments. While we here in the US have been aware of distinctly un-Presidential behavior, the mainstream media still seems eager to cover up Obama’s gaffs and faux pauxs with almost the same level of devotion that they displayed in exposing and magnifying those of Bush.

The British press however, have had a distinct shift in attitude towards Obama. While they slobbered all over “campaign Obama,” their love affair with him and his family ended almost as soon as he took office. Between his breeches of protocol and etiquette, his administration’s icy attitude towards our historic ally, and his soft line on Muslim extremists, the Brits aren’t impressed.

So while the US media focused on Sarah Palin and her motorcycle ride, the British tabloids detailed Obama’s Memorial Day activities. After laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, Obama (for the ninth straight week) headed for the links. And the British press went crazy.

For many in America, Memorial Day is more BBQs and parades than somber deliberation. But our cousins across the pond take their Memorial events very seriously and observe nationwide silences and solemn services. So they were horrified when Obama ran off to play golf on Memorial Day, branding him in the print media and television as being disrespectful, selfish, and decidedly un-Presidential.

This brings me to the “can” vs. “should” debate. Liberals in particular seem to have difficultly understanding the difference between the two. Can you yell fire in a movie theatre? Yes you “can.” But “should” you? Not unless you want to get arrested. Can you jump off the Brooklyn Bridge? Sure you “can.” But “should” you? Not unless you can fly. The point is, as long as you are physically and/or mentally capable, you “can” do almost anything. BUT everything that we do has consequences. It’s the weight or cost of those consequences that determine whether or not we “should” do something.

As the leader of the “free world,” a President’s role is not only that of Captain of the ship, it is also that of figurehead. He (or she) must give the impression of steady, vigilant helmsmanship during times of peace. He must give the impression of surety, strength of purpose, and steely resolve during times of war. And he must exhibit respectful, quiet contemplation during those times between. The presidency is a stressful job. From the day that the President is sworn into office until the day that he leaves, he is “on.” There aren’t any days off. He can’t take a break to act in an un-Presidential fashion on the weekends or holidays. Or rather, he “can” but he has to accept the consequences.

Of course Obama (or any other politician) isn’t focused 24 hours a day on one tragedy or difficulty or issue. But even though people know that their President has a multitude of issues with which to deal, from an emotional point of view they want to believe that their pain, suffering, tragedies ARE foremost in importance. The family living on Red Cross cots after a tornado destroys their entire town doesn’t care that the President wants to play golf. They want to believe that he is working day and night to make sure that their suffering is minimized, that he is working with FEMA and the National Guard and whoever else he can to make sure that they get the help that they need as soon as is humanly possible.

The parents who are mourning their child, killed in Afghanistan, or Iran, or on the Mexican border want the President to “know” their child, understand the great loss his or her death has caused, and contemplate the importance of their sacrifice. They don’t want to know that the President pitched a wreath and than took off to play golf or basketball. Can he? Sure. Should he? Hell no! It shows disrespect. It shows a lack of courtesy. And perhaps most importantly, it shows a complete lack of understanding. How can someone who is so disconnected to the sensitivities and values of the people be an effective leader? How can someone who doesn’t exhibit sound judgment be respected enough to command respect at home and abroad?

In the end, the US media does Obama no favors by diminishing his “bad” behavior. Sometimes a dose of media tough love is all it takes to snap a politician back into the realities of his job. The fact of the matter is that when the President fails to meet basic expectations, it affects the way that he is perceived around the globe, undermining both our position and our safety. It removes our ability to negotiate effectively on the global stage.

And this is not an Obama specific issue. Despite being a bright and thoughtful man, George Bush’s perceived lack of intelligence, due largely to a thick accent and a hostile media, contributed to a worldwide attitude shift against the United States. It was as if the world in general said “hey if Americans think that he is a joke, why should we respect him or a country that would elect him?”

The same perception of leadership is at play all around the world, all the time. Nicolas Sarkozy, the diminutive French President, married three times, (twice to models) is most well known for his designer clothing, alleged philandering, and trophy wives. Despite being a vigorous force for change, his dedication to strengthening world ties, and insuring that France play a larger, more aggressive role in world affairs, because of his behavior he is seen as a playboy, aristocrat.

By the same token, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s Prime Minister has fashioned himself as a sort of Slavic John Wayne. Many in his own country and abroad are willing to overlook human rights violations and near autocracy because he has been very successful in turning around the economy in Russia. This turn around has been possible in large part to his reputation as a “take no prisoners” (literally and figuratively) sort of leader.

From a conservative’s perspective, Obama has done a pretty crappy job as President. His policies have damaged our economy, our security, and our relationship with allies and foes alike. The fact that he doesn’t seem even remotely interested in appearing Presidential is unforgiveable. Campaign trail Obama portrayed himself as a boy from humble, single parent family, beginnings who rose through good old fashioned hard work. As any PR person will tell you, the accuracy of that persona is irrelevant as long as people embrace it and believe it. President Obama quickly abandoned that character in favor of a rather elitist, thin skinned, whiner. Frankly, the plaintive cries of “I deserve to play golf cuz my job is so stressful” doesn’t sit well with Americans or anyone else for that matter.

This wasn’t a job thrust upon him; it is one that he worked very hard to convince the world would be a perfect fit. Now that he finds the “uniform” of world leader chaffing and restrictive, he seems to feel entitled to yank off the tie and run off to play whenever the mood strikes. The result is a world that sees Obama as, at best, petulant, naive, and uncouth and at worst either completely incompetent or dangerously arrogant.

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