Ethics Quote Of The Month: Barack Obama

deal-or-no-deal

“You have to understand that if you seek that office, then you have to be prepared to give your life to it. Essentially, the bargain that I think every President strikes with the American people is, ‘you give me this office, then in turn my fears, doubts, insecurities, foibles, need for sleep, family life, vacations, leisure, is gone. I am giving myself to you.”

—-Barack Obama, running for President of the United States in 2008.

Of course, he was correct. That is, or should be, the deal and the commitment. (He also should have included fundraising.)

Even if he had not made this sweeping declaration that he had no intention of  fulfilling, winging off to Martha’s Vineyard while crises are intensifying at home and abroad is irresponsible. It also sends a message of detachment and lack of seriousness to observers abroad, many of whom are happy to exploit the weakness and indifference of American leadership. From Walter Russell Mead:

“The fact that President Obama thought that the day of an Iraqi coup was a good time to hang on the Vineyard and get on the links is bad news. Either the President blew off warnings from his advisors, or the intel community got blindsided again. Both possibilities reflect badly on the management of the nation’s affairs.”

Of course. And Obama, as he said in 2008, knows it. Now he just doesn’t care.

___________________

Pointer: Instapundit

Source: IJR

78 thoughts on “Ethics Quote Of The Month: Barack Obama

  1. While reading the quote a small glimmer of hope lit inside me… maybe he *will* get it for his final year of office, maybe… then I saw the date and threw up in my mouth a little.

  2. Presidents are always on-call. Even when they are nominally on vacation, their duties come with them. A mobile office is as good as an Oval Office.

    This seems a tad petty. Ike played golf, and according to the Washington Post, Bush #43 took 879 vacation days–more than two years out of eight– and he was running two wars. When you take your work with you (been there), you’re not really on vacation.

    • 1. Reconcile the quote with the practice, Steve. You’re spinning.
      2. Obama leads all Presidents in luxury vacations. Camp David, Ike’s farm and Bush’s Texas ranch have much different optics.
      3. Bush was savaged by critics for his golfing. Remember “Fahrenheit 911”?
      4. Requiring leaders to act like they give a damn is not petty. Mead is dead on.

      • Some quick research reveals that as of August 15, 2013, Obama had taken only 96 days or partial days’ vacation. That’s about three weeks every year, and it’s not like he’s not working on his days off. You keep saying that ethics have to take reality into account when it comes to the Palestinians’ property rights, but seem to carve out an exception here.

        Second, Obama did not come into office as an independently wealthy plutocrat. Some of us have to stay in hotels. Most Americans get that.

        Third, the primary cost in moving a President is in security and logistics. Even if you set him up in the penthouse at the Waldorf Astoria, the cost of the room would qualify as a rounding error. Your staff has to go with you, and they can’t all stay at the ranch.

        Fourth, it would cost money to cancel the vacation. What could he do in the White House that he couldn’t do on Martha’s Vineyard and if so, is it really worth spending the extra money? Or do you want to spend my tax money just for the optics? If we needed our President to cry, perhaps we could draft John Boehner. 😉

        Fifth, I remember F-911. It was not that Bush took vacations, so much as that he took so many of them (over 100 days a year!), and that he was so flippant in the clip you speak of. It was, as you suggest, about optics. Give a good comic material, and he will run with it.

        Sixth, by any objective measure, Obama has not spent nearly as much of our taxpayer dollars on his leisure time as his predecessor. Bill Clinton had vacays of similar duration on Martha’s Vineyard. Your claim is hyperbolic, and therefore, suggestive of personal bias.

        I will be the first to agree that we need to hold our public officials to the highest ethical standards, as they have been entrusted with power and owe us a fiduciary duty. I have a ethics problem with judges writing law under the guise of interpreting it, and issuing opinions they have never even bothered to read. But this one is a bridge too far for me. President Obama has never had a day off and for that matter, neither did Presidents Bush and Clinton. They can do their job on AF1, they can do it on their ranches, and they can do it on Marths’s Vineyard. A four-hour golf break was fine when Ike did it, and it is fine today.

            • And I must say, a cheap shot. I have no desire to see any U.S. President’s performance stink on ice, but I refuse to cover for him. The accumulation of data really has no other fair interpretation.

              • It isn’t a cheap shot. What Steve wrote above is accurate, but you appear to have blinders on when it comes to Obama. You actively are seeing behavior that he is engaging in as “worse” than previous presidents who did the exact same thing.

                I’m not a fan of Obama either Jack, but I don’t think your analysis has been fair lately.

                • Cheap shot, again. Steve didn’t even address the issues at hand. Deal with the quote. Go ahead. Deal with the quote. I can’t wait. Was he wrong? Was he lying? Did he change his mind? I’m agreeing with Obama’s assessment of how a leader should appear to lead, and holding him to his own standards. How is that unfair.

            • It does seem, on the face of it, that you judge more harshly when it comes to Barack Obama. Most of us are not going to take that statement literally, as we all know that you can’t go without sleep for any length of time and be effective. Ditto, leisure. What most of us will get out of Obama’s statement is that the job comes first. But you read it literally when it doesn’t make any sense to and apparently, because that odd interpretation appears to serve your personal purposes.

              What I find disingenuous is the claim that “Obama leads all Presidents in luxury vacations.” Bill Clinton used to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard every year, and the Bush estate in Kennebunkport makes the Ritz Carlton look like a hovel. On its face, that statement reveals an animus toward Obama. I can find lots of reasons to criticize Obama, but taking a scheduled vacay is not among them. And when you compare his four months to George W. Bush’s 2.5 years, your indignation jumps Fonzie while jumping the shark.

              I won’t make Beth’s blanket statement because I haven’t been around all that long, but this incident supports her thesis. The optics are not good.

              It appears to people like Beth and myself that you do harbor your share of double-standards. And that cuts to the essence of this blog: whether ethics are absolute or situational. If all ethics are “situational,” then there are no ethics.

              • In a word, Steve, baloney. In several: you don’t know what you’re talking about, as usual.

                I am not counting a President’s visits to a second home as true vacations, and I don’t think they are. The public optics, for one thing, are different. By this count, out today, my assessment is supportable and fair. But fine—that was an offhand remark in the comments; you can count differently if you choose. Again, that wasn’t what the post was about, and I shouldn’t have indulged your strategy of moving the goalposts to make your rebuttal easier.

                Your rationalization of Obama’s 2008 pledge is, in a word, laughable. He mentioned a string of specifics, but only meant them figuratively. Ah. In a campaign setting from a President who has pledged transparency, this is deceit, then. He’s supposed to be a wizard at words, and yet he says something that doesn’t “literally” mean what he says. I can almost see your desperate excuse as plausible in his repeated “I will not rest” mantra, which is obviously not literal. Still, going on vacations and fundraiser junkets during periods where you have sworn “not to rest” just demonstrates insincerity. Obama has also made more fundraising appearances—over 400 at last count—than any previous President in a similar period—go ahead, spin that.

                How many other Presidents went on extended and repeated vacations after lecturing the public about cutting back on their vacations? How many did so while adding 7 trillion to the national debt? How many did it with a inexcusably,historically long and weak economic recovery and an ongoing employment crisis?

                There’s no double standard on Obama. None at all. I have no reason to apply one, nor is it necessary to apply one to rate him at the bottom of the barrel. I am well-equipped by study, scholarship and training to compare the leadership skills and styles of the Presidents, and it doesn’t consist of, or depend on, counting vacation hours. Take a weekend and read all the posts here on the topic…there must be a hundred…and tell me it’s unfair. The importance of the quote was that he hasn’t even met his own standards, much less mine.

                Meanwhile, as I noted, even the mainstream media defenders of the President are getting disillusioned at his latest show of detachment in times of crisis. Here’s Obama-enabler Dana Milbank, for example.

                I feel for Beth; I feel for anyone who had high hopes for the this President. Well, I had hopes, but not much faith. He’s been an utter failure in every respect, and the falling trust of the public in government, in institutions, and damn near everything is a direct result. I have written that it has to be horrible for those Obama conned to expect so much and see this ugly belly flop, and denial is natural. But the problem is not me. I don’t go on vacations while my business needs me and I haven’t achieved my goals—and I can and do work on vacations too. I hold myself top the same standard as I hold Obama: I earn my vacations with success. If the world was at relative peace, if there weren’t crises and threats proliferating by the day, many of them, like the child invasion, Isis, and Putin, due to Obama’s inattention, nobody would be talking about Obama’s vacations, and neither would I.

                When Bush stayed at his ranch as Katrina approached, I was on record as writing that this was a leadership botch…that he should have returned to DC, even though there was little he could do about a hurricane, to make sure he was symbolically on the job as a crisis was underway. That’s EXACTLY the same standard I’m holding Obama to now. Find another commentator who can say that.

                It is, of course, because I base my standards on ethics, not politics. As someone who doesn’t understand ethics and seems immune from enlightenment on the topic, you wouldn’t understand that.

                • Now, you are becoming verbally abusive. So much for the “high road” of polite and respectful intellectual discourse.

                  Verbal abuse is almost always a projection of the abuser’s insecurities. A need to control is usually an attempt to avoid a feeling of powerlessness.

                  What you seem to be saying is that if Obama was Romney-class wealthy, and bought a palatial mansion in Martha’s Vineyard, you would give him a pass, but hoi polloi who were born on the other side of the tracks and have to rent (far more modest) hotel rooms are out of luck. Come again? Here, we are going to have to disagree. Can’t we do it without name-calling and insults?

                  Kennedy WENT to Hyannis ON VACATION during the Berlin airlift. And back in the day when you couldn’t take the red phone with you, that was objectively more reckless. AF1 is at Otis AFB, ready to go at a moment’s notice. The Red Phone has gone cellular. The “football” is on the mantle. The Oval Office is in the suite. And I would rather have a President who was cool, calm, and collected than a John McCain who runs around like a chicken with his head cut off. Cerebral, Jim Leyland-style leadership.

                  We hired him, in part, because he was “No Drama Obama.” The Ukraine situation isn’t going away. Neither is Gaza, nor ISIS, nor the tidal wave of children on the southern border. He doesn’t need to be in DC to do his job, and going about business as usual is a declaration that everything is under control. It is the guy we hired, in lieu of John “The Sky Is Falling” McCain. You get what you pay for. Yogi Berra never panicked, but Earl Weaver….

                  Has Obama been a failure? Depends on your criteria. I don’t think anyone could heal the rift between our own Sunni and Shi’a, so asking him to bring us together was unrealistic. He didn’t use his bully pulpit as effectively as he could have, and he didn’t stand up to Republican blackmail. We’re still in Gitmo, and the NSA is still reading our e-mails. No one of substance in Wall Street lost their shirt or did the perpwalk. No one was prosecuted for war crimes. He has been a disappointment, but I doubt that the other guy would have done appreciably better.

                  As for the statement in question, I didn’t take it literally, and don’t think that anyone else should, either. But when you suffer from Clinton Derangement Syndrome a/k/a Bush Derangement Syndrome a/k/a Obama Derangement Syndrome, you will always hear what you want to hear. I am so tired of the hyper-partisanship that I want to retch. But can’t we disagree without being disagreeable?

                  I can’t help but think that this one is more about your politics than ethics — and perhaps, your own feelings of insecurity. It is tragic, really. I had such high hopes for this blog.

                  • Fine, Steve. I don’t really care what you say. You are in FantasyLand, intellectually dishonest,and I am beginning to think you are merely a high-grade troll, which admittedly is better than a low grade troll. Simply making assertions repeatedly--Obama didn’t mean his words literally…Putin is a fair comparison for a U.S. President…”McCain would have been lousy too” excuses Obama’s performance…there nothing wrong with a leader flying off to “relax” in the middle of a crisis… all ethics is situational, etc., etc, etc…in defiance of experience, fact and logic is disagreeable, because it’s like arguing with an articulate six year old. Go ahead and write what you want; I won’t be reading. I’ll check in from time to time just to make sure you’re not posting “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” or dirty limericks, but you are not worth the trouble to rebut. I’m sure others will periodically explain why you are spouting nonsense, but I’m not going to engage to be called biased when there is no reason for me to be biased in Obama’s case and when I go to great lengths to avoid bias. One of us is making excuses for an epic incompetent, and claiming to be objective while calling the party who is making obvious conclusions based on dispassionate analysis biased. The other is leaving the room to organize his sock drawer—it’s more productive.

                    • Have you noticed his quiet little snarky and gratuitous jabs to push the envelope of “Banning” offenses… as he even directly questioned below…

                      At least it parallels his glorious savior’s quiet and subtle “Gonna impeach me now? NO??? What do I have to do???” routine…

                    • Yeah…as I said, high grade troll. I’m not going to give him the satisfaction of martyrdom by throwing him out, but my search for rational, fair, uncorrupted commenters from the left side of the political spectrum (we have a handful, which isn’t enough) continues.

                      Obama is unimpeachable and knows it, while there are no such constraints on me….that’s the problem with the analogy.

                    • I am sorry that you feel that way. I take offense at your assertion that I am in any way “intellectually dishonest,” just because I find your claim that the trips to Hyannis, Kennebunkport, the Western White House, et al., are not vacations because they are owned by the President in question ludicrous on its face. I have pointed out an array of logical fallacies in your positions, and have done so respectfully.

                      I am only defending Obama from the unfair criticism you have hurled in this thread. “Essentially, the bargain” contains a dump truck-load of vague. No President has ever even tried to live up to the absurd standard you want to hold Obama to, and one you would never hold other Presidents to. Even Presidents need sleep.

                      Since you started hurling personal insults at me, I’ve taken the time to look at your body of work. That you consistently hold the Left to a much higher standard than their counterparts on the Right is evident. I have reviewed your “Rule Book,” and find numerous violations in your commentaries. The pass you gave Romney for the “47%” remark was genuinely breathtaking. “Salesmanship”?!? SRSLY??? Given the no quarters approach you have applied to Obama, that phantasmic excuse is beyond the pale.

                    • Jack — do you really think yourself free from bias? That’s an insane statement. We all have biases — even if we can’t recognize them.

                    • Not what I said. I scrupulously adjust for my biases all the time…it’s the biggest and most difficult part of my job. There is a difference, in addition, between preferences based on informed judgments and biases. I prefer strong leaders to weak ones, for example, based on my study of history and management.

                  • “Now, you are becoming verbally … feeling of powerlessness.”

                    Diversion.

                    “What you seem to be saying is that if Obama was Romney-class wealthy, and bought a palatial mansion in Martha’s Vineyard, you would give him a pass, but hoi polloi who were born on the other side of the tracks and have to rent (far more modest) hotel rooms are out of luck. Come again? Here, we are going to have to disagree. Can’t we do it without name-calling and insults?”

                    Nonsense. The Obamas are wealthy. Comparing them to someone even more wealthy does not change the fact that they are wealthy.

                    “…than a John McCain who runs around like a chicken with his head cut off. Cerebral, Jim Leyland-style leadership.

                    You continually do comparisons to other leaders and in this case a hypothetical leader. This is #22 on the list of rationalizations, with a variation of “John Mccain would have done worse”.

                    Amusingly, you switch between a John McCain hypothetical presidency and Romney as it suits your needs for comparison.

                    “We hired him, in part, because he was “No Drama Obama.””

                    You probably confuse the appearance of calm with actual calm, when in reality, based on all other evidence, the appearance of calm (which is debatable) is more due to dispassion and disinterest.

                    “The Ukraine situation isn’t going away. Neither is Gaza, nor ISIS, nor the tidal wave of children on the southern border. He doesn’t need to be in DC to do his job”

                    No, he needs to do his job. He isn’t. There is a reason all those items aren’t going away….OH ALSO—- there is a reason those items are items to begin with. Except in the case of Gaza – those items are direct consequences of Obama’s lack of vision in foreign policy and a lack of any coherence in foreign policy.

                    “…and going about business as usual is a declaration that everything is under control.”

                    Uh, nothing looks like it is under control and the problem is that there is no effort to even look like things are trying to be brought under control.

                    “It is the guy we hired, in lieu of John “The Sky Is Falling” McCain. You get what you pay for. Yogi Berra never panicked, but Earl Weaver….”

                    McCain again?

                    Has Obama been a failure? Depends on your criteria. I don’t think anyone could heal the rift between our own Sunni and Shi’a, so asking him to bring us together was unrealistic.

                    “He didn’t use his bully pulpit as effectively as he could have,”

                    Understatement of the day. He has used the bully pulpit EVERY single time he has spoken. He has verbally abused the opposition and denigrated the bases of those who disagree, he has divided and used virulent language consistently to try to bully the other side. You are right…he wasn’t effective at bringing about cooperation, but he was effective at using the bully pulpit.

                    “and he didn’t stand up to Republican blackmail.”

                    Blackmail?

                    “We’re still in Gitmo”

                    Good. A dumb promise anyway.

                    “and the NSA is still reading our e-mails.”

                    At an alarmingly increased rate… thanks to whoever is ultimately responsible for the NSA… who is that guy?

                    “As for the statement in question, I didn’t take it literally, and don’t think that anyone else should, either.”

                    Then what do you take literally? If the words people say don’t have meaning when you don’t want them to, then words don’t have meaning and language be damned. For all I know, your entire rant is just a poetic allusion to kittens and ice cream and dancing in the rain, since I don’t know if you meant your words literally or not.

                    • Tagg: “The Obamas are wealthy. Comparing them to someone even more wealthy does not change the fact that they are wealthy.”

                      I’m not saying that they aren’t. But have you ever looked at what $3M will buy in Martha’s Vineyard? A suitable property would cost you more than they are worth. The one they are renting costs $12M, according to ABC. The Bush compound in Kennebunkport is worth $8.4M. While the Obamas are wealthy by our standards, they aren’t THAT wealthy. Their financial disclosure statements for 2013 show a net worth between $2 and 7M. Not enough to get a real estate salesman there to talk with you.

                      Tagg: “This is #22 on the list of rationalizations, with a variation of “John Mccain would have done worse”.

                      I am invoking the Jack Marshall Exception to Rule 22. ‘They aren’t rules, they’re more like guidelines.” –Pirates of the Caribbean). It is, in Jack’s assessment, better to give judges unlimited power over us as litigants with no accountability, because the alternative would (in his unsubstantiated assessment) be worse. (I disagree, agreeing with Jack’s general rule that you should never put pragmatism above principle.) If he can invoke it, why not me?

                      Tagg: “You probably confuse the appearance of calm with actual calm, when in reality, based on all other evidence, the appearance of calm (which is debatable) is more due to dispassion and disinterest.”

                      I didn’t know that you had such intimate access to Obama. The spin in that statement is dizzying.

                      Tagg: “Understatement of the day. He has used the bully pulpit EVERY single time he has spoken. He has verbally abused the opposition and denigrated the bases of those who disagree, he has divided and used virulent language consistently to try to bully the other side. You are right…he wasn’t effective at bringing about cooperation, but he was effective at using the bully pulpit.”

                      Again, your hyper-partisanship is showing. He wasn’t going to bring about cooperation because Republicans planned to sabotage his presidency from the outset. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/government-elections-politics/inside-obamas-presidency/the-republicans-plan-for-the-new-president/ Of course, you will give them a clean bill of health, right?

                      Left-right politics have become so poisonous that compromise is all but impossible. “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable” is not a prescription for functional government.

                      Tagg: “Blackmail?”

                      Yes, blackmail. “The shutdown [was] political blackmail. If Democrats give in, the GOP will keep putting the US democracy and economy at risk.” http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/06/obama-shutdown-dont-cave-republicans

                      Tagg [re: Gitmo]: “Good. A dumb promise anyway.’

                      Again, your hyper-partisanship is showing.

                      Tagg: “Then what do you take literally? If the words people say don’t have meaning when you don’t want them to, then words don’t have meaning and language be damned. For all I know, your entire rant is just a poetic allusion to kittens and ice cream and dancing in the rain, since I don’t know if you meant your words literally or not.”

                      False dilemma, and you know it. Speech can be figurative and convey an idea without devolving into jabberwocky.

                    • “Tagg: “This is #22 on the list of rationalizations, with a variation of “John Mccain would have done worse”.

                      I am invoking the Jack Marshall Exception to Rule 22. ‘They aren’t rules, they’re more like guidelines.” –Pirates of the Caribbean). It is, in Jack’s assessment, better to give judges unlimited power over us as litigants with no accountability, because the alternative would (in his unsubstantiated assessment) be worse. (I disagree, agreeing with Jack’s general rule that you should never put pragmatism above principle.) If he can invoke it, why not me?”

                      Not analogous. In matters that protect rule of law and due process, we must be nearly absolute, and in instances in which we cannot be absolute, we have to pick the utilitarian option that leads to the best outcomes. The options Jack decided between on the judge situation falls in that category.

                      The option of “How Obama IS conducting himself” vs “How Steve Holland thinks McCain MIGHT have conducted himself” is not at all apples and apples. I know you can see the difference.

                      “Tagg: “You probably confuse the appearance of calm with actual calm, when in reality, based on all other evidence, the appearance of calm (which is debatable) is more due to dispassion and disinterest.”

                      I didn’t know that you had such intimate access to Obama. The spin in that statement is dizzying.”

                      I’m not sure what part of “…based on all other evidence…” you didn’t understand, but observing Obama’s conduct since 2008 requires no intimate access. Nice diversion, however it failed.

                      “Tagg: “Understatement of the day. He has used the bully pulpit EVERY single time he has spoken. He has verbally abused the opposition and denigrated the bases of those who disagree, he has divided and used virulent language consistently to try to bully the other side. You are right…he wasn’t effective at bringing about cooperation, but he was effective at using the bully pulpit.”

                      Again, your hyper-partisanship is showing. He wasn’t going to bring about cooperation because Republicans planned to sabotage his presidency from the outset. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/government-elections-politics/inside-obamas-presidency/the-republicans-plan-for-the-new-president/ Of course, you will give them a clean bill of health, right?

                      Left-right politics have become so poisonous that compromise is all but impossible. “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable” is not a prescription for functional government.”

                      Self evident nonsense. Read any of Obama’s speeches and “negotiations”… not a bit of leadership, not a bit of compromise, not a bit of reaching across the aisle, not a bit a unification, nothing, nada. Vitriol, slander, bluster, and worse. As for the tired worn out “Republicans already planned to oppose him” meme… it’s been debunked time and again. Of course Republicans planned to oppose him…he’s a Democrat. You do know the parties oppose each other right? You do know that? And LEADERSHIP demands attempting to cross the aisle and try to unify. Obama did not do this. NOT ONCE.

                      “Tagg: “Blackmail?”

                      Yes, blackmail. “The shutdown [was] political blackmail. If Democrats give in, the GOP will keep putting the US democracy and economy at risk.” http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/06/obama-shutdown-dont-cave-republicans

                      It was rhetorical. I already knew what you were referring to. This is another tired worn out meme from the Left. It’s been debunked about a dozen times last year on the discussions here. Feel free the peruse them, I’m not wasting time on it again…but I do find it laughable that someone still believes that spin.

                      “Tagg [re: Gitmo]: “Good. A dumb promise anyway.’

                      Again, your hyper-partisanship is showing.”

                      Yeah…. believing we should imprison our enemy prisoners is hyper-partisanship… you must be so far left you make Chomsky look like a conservative.

                      “Tagg: “Then what do you take literally? If the words people say don’t have meaning when you don’t want them to, then words don’t have meaning and language be damned. For all I know, your entire rant is just a poetic allusion to kittens and ice cream and dancing in the rain, since I don’t know if you meant your words literally or not.”

                      False dilemma, and you know it. Speech can be figurative and convey an idea without devolving into jabberwocky.”

                      Utter nonsense. I’ve made no false dichotomy. In the topic of laws, and campaign promises (which ideally would ultimately translate into laws) words MUST HAVE PRECISE AND UNDERSTANDABLE meanings, otherwise law and promises are nothing.

                    • Oh, phooey, I can’t resist: John McCain would indeed have been a pretty bad President, being neither intellectually nor temperamentally suited for the job. But he does have leadership experience and ability, and he undoubtedly would have projected US power abroad effectively, as well as avoided gutting national defense, which would have made the world safer than it is now.

                      Pretending that McCain was rejected for Obama is absurd historical revisionism, even considering his wretched campaign. When the economy collapses on one party’s watch, it’s going to lose the Presidency—a lawn chair would have beaten McCain, even though the causes of the mortgage meltdown stretched back to the Clinton years and were bi-partisan, and arguably mostly Democratic. McCain never had a chance, and a much better candidate would have never had a chance.

                    • Fair enough, I certainly didn’t want McCain as the party nominee. But still, Steve Holland has absolutely no clue whatsoever how McCain would be conducting himself in all of this.

                      Your point is solid on not gutting defense and not projecting weakness (which would alleviate tons of stress by simple discouragement…therefore giving even a weaker leader a ton of breathing space and time to think).

        • 1. The average person doesn’t get vacation time until after their first calendar year of employment, and then only 10 days for the first five years, Obama averaged 24 in the four full years counted. I have no idea how that’s justified. I just don’t. Comparing it to other presidencies is a fallacy. It’s either right or it’s not. “There are worse things”.

          2. http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-politicians/presidents/barack-obama-net-worth/

          The Obama Family Income History:
          ◾2000: $240,000
          ◾2001: $272,759
          ◾2002: $259,394
          ◾2003: $238,327
          ◾2004: $207,647
          ◾2005: $1,655,106
          ◾2006: $983,826
          ◾2007: $4,139,965
          ◾2008: $2,656,902
          ◾2009: $5,505,409
          ◾2010: $1,728,096
          ◾2011: $789,674
          ◾2012: $662,076
          ◾2013: $481,098

          You’re right, when he took office in 2008, he was Clintonesque penniless, and could not possibly afford an acreage.

          3. The cost is almost secondary to the responsibility. 2008 Obama seemed to understand that, but when you compare what he said to what he did…. He was dishonest. Again. But even if you want to believe that the cost is germane, it should be the responsibility of our elected officials to be cognizant of the expenses they are incurring on behalf of the taxpayer. If an Obama vacation is more expensive that a Bush vacation, there’s an argument that Obama should take fewer.

          4. More about money. Jack never mentioned money… it’s strange you can’t get over it.

          5. “There are worse things.”.

          6. More about money. “There are worse things”

        • 1. You still don’t address with the quote. I’m not surprised, because there’s no way out.
          2. Bush went to his home. That’s not a vacation, and he doesn’t have to pay rent.
          3. Obama also sends his children and Michelle on luxury vacations.
          4. You also don’t deal with the substance of the matter, which is vacationing and playing while people are dying and the President is supposed to be controlling events, or trying to. (I think the expense is a waste, but that was not the object of the post.)It projects weakness, and it’s a Leadership 101 fail.

          • What? If Obama went to a family home in Hawaii each month, it would cost us more because half of the government has to vacation with the president.

            And, yes, going home can be a vacation. Lots of my rich friends have homes that they go to. I’m starting to learn that truly rich people don’t really stay in hotels.

            As for trying to control events — what on earth should he be doing? There is civil war and genocide happening in multiple parts of the world every day.

            • 1. Obama was born in Hawaii, but he was the senator from Illinois because he lived in Chicago.

              2. and 3. We aren’t talking about the money. The money should be a consideration, but a secondary one. The president of the United States of America is the Commander in Chief of the world’s largest military. I think, and perhaps I’m wrong, when your administration is preparing to release bombs from planes flying over a sovereign nation, it might be a good idea to be in the office. Don’t you think? Just answer that: “If, as leader of a nations army, you are preparing to drop bombs on human beings, should you be at work.”?

              You are so busy trying to spin Obama into a favorable light, it isn’t even funny. I don’t care what party someone belongs to… this isn’t acceptable.

              • I’m not trying to spin Obama — I don’t like him and I think he has violated the Constitution time and time again. I keep saying that on this blog yet people keep say I am supporting him. That’s very strange. But I digress….

                The commander-in-chief isn’t picking the targets in this limited engagement. He gave the order and now the military (and the CIA) are executing it. The phones on Martha’s Vineyard work just as well as the ones in DC. I personally don’t care where he is right now.

                I do agree with Jack’s critique below of Obama’s foreign policy strategy — but if he thinks Hillary is distancing herself on substantive grounds, I have a few bridges to sell to him. Every move Hillary is making right now is a calculated one with one goal in mind.

                • Oh, Hillary doesn’t have a sincere or genuine bone in her body. That doesn’t mean her careful triangulating can’t result in a correct assessment. :not doing stupid stuff” is a second rate power’s strategy, not a superpower. But no nation with a hopeless leader like Obama can be a superpower…

                • “I’m not trying to spin Obama — I don’t like him and I think he has violated the Constitution time and time again”

                  See…. Just because you deny things, doesn’t mean they aren’t true. By your logic, if you were to put your hand in front of you, clamp your fingers together, and then swing your arm in a way that your hand connected with someone’s face, you could say “I didn’t punch that person” and it’d be all good. Whether you think the defense is legitimate or not is irrelevant, if Jack is saying “Obama is bad because _____” and you are saying, “I don’t think ____ is that bad” you are per se defending Obama.

                  If you think that after everything you’ve said, the people reading your comments will take your word at this point that you aren’t defending Obama, I have a bridge to sell you.

              • Why do you have to be in the office? These days, the office comes to you. I work out of my house because I can. There is not a lot a President can’t do on AF1, or on a scheduled vacation.

            • The President’s foreign policy, as knowledgeable critics on all sides of the issue—even Hillary Clinton—have noted, has been passive, reactive and feckless, with the current results. Let’s see…we have, hmmm, five? Gaza, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, and remember all those kids coming from South America? involving lives and geopolitical upheaval. Time is crucial, and so is appearances. I don’t go to the beach during a family crisis or when my business is in trouble, whether there’s a lot I can do or not. The President going to the beach while the world is burning is neither reassuring nor competent leadership. Do something, or look like you’re doing something, or pretend to care. Obama’s repeated mantra has been that he “will not rest” until a problem is solved, whereupon he appears to rest. Incomptentent, and insulting.

              I don’t recall President Kennedy going to Hyannis during the Berlin crisis or the show-down with the Soviets over Cuba, do you?

                • Wrong. He was IN Hyannisport when the crisis broke, made some decisions there, and returned. Hyannis is the Kennedy compound…they LIVED there. It is like Bush’s ranch and Reagan’s ranch, and Ike’s farm. In any even, he didn’t announce he was flying there for the sun while the crisis was ongoing. Tell me another.

                  • The Berlin crisis broke in early June of 1961. The tank standoff in Berlin was in October. And again, Kennedy lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s part of the job. He worked in a trip to Hyannisport, which was always billed as a vacation (see e.g., http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKPPP-19.aspx), much as Khruschev did in Sochi. But now, it is not a vacation, because you declare that it is not?

                    I’m old enough to remember the news reports of the Kennedys vacationing in Hyannis. That dog won’t hunt.

                    • They called it a vacation, and they called Bush going to the ranch a vacation, as in a vacation from Washington. And if Obama had a place of his own where he routinely went to get away from Washington, they would call that a vacation, and I guarantee you, there would be no complaints about him going there, no matter how often he did. The optics are different, and they remain different. Nobody (here) has argued that any President can’t work as well or better away from DC as in it. There were never any news reports about Kennedy starting a vacation in the middle of an international crisis, and if you are old enough to remember, you know that.

          • The quote has been addressed. It was not meant literally, and no one who does not harbor an anti-Obama agenda would have read it literally.

            As President, Bush’s home was at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And yes, it is a “vacation” when you go to your second home in the idyllic hill country of Texas for a little R&R. Iran doesn’t have centrifuges that spin that fast, Jack.

            Your substance argument is even more absurd. The scantily-clad Vladimir Putin is always off riding horses, hunting, fishing, snorkeling, skiing, flying ultralights — does that project weakness? Bush #43 ran two wars from the golf course, and Katrina from a fundraiser. The genocide in Darfur never deterred Bill Clinton from taking his scheduled vacay. The Middle East has been a bloodbath for longer than we have been living, and that conflict will go on long after we are gone. And “there’s always a crisis” seems to be a part of the job.

            Answer this question: What would Vlad Putin do?

            • Steve, you are beginning to sound like an idiot. Putin’s a dictator, acts like a dictator, and is assumed to be a dictator. He could dress as a chicken and it wouldn’t matter. Russia isn’t the U.S. If you really think that is a useful or vaguely appropriate comparison, you need help.

              • Curiously, Putin’s internal approval rating is over 80%, according to Time and Gallup(!) And it is not like there’s an electronic Iron Curtain. Russians can get all the info we can, and their debate is surprisingly lively, according to The Guardian (I obviously don’t speak Russian). But in the final analysis, Crimea is more about internal Russian politics and geopolitical imperatives than anything else.

                Russian politics is a bit of a head-scratcher. The oligarchs are the only ones who are all that upset with Putin. http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2014/07/29/Russian-Oligarchs-Are-Tired-Funding-Putin-s-Land-Grab. He may be a dictator, but Russians seem to like it that way. Go figure.

                • “Curiously, Putin’s internal approval rating is over 80%, according to Time and Gallup(!) And it is not like there’s an electronic Iron Curtain.”

                  #34 & #42. Who cares if he has approval of 80% of the Russians? Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi has 100% approval of citizens of the Caliphate… maybe you should extol his leadership while you are at it.

                  Comparing strong man cultures where worship of strong men is endemic to our decentralized culture is apples and oranges.

                  “But in the final analysis, Crimea is more about internal Russian politics and geopolitical imperatives than anything else.”

                  You’ve said something right about the motivation of Russia. Big deal. It is in Russia’s global strategy to maximize access to warm water ports. It is also in a starving person’s strategy to steal a piece of bread because he is starving. It doesn’t make the act ethical.

                  What you avoid is that Putin would never have felt he could exert power through an outright take over of Crimea if he believed America still willing to move against him. But he knew with that milquetoast president, he wouldn’t be opposed, so he moved.

                  • Tagg: “What you avoid is that Putin would never have felt he could exert power through an outright take over of Crimea if he believed America still willing to move against him.”

                    You mean, like George W. Bush (Georgia) or Ronald Reagan (Poland)? No one in his right mind was going to go to war over Crimea. Mitt Romney wouldn’t. (McCain, I’m not so sure about.) Putin knew this; he only moved against Ukraine when it suddenly lurched to the West. In the military, it is often called “a bridge too far.” He was going to protect Russia’s interests, because he knew that no one was going to glow over it.

                    Still, I like the fact that you don’t try to hide your hyper-partisanship. I like candor in a man.

                    My only point about Russian politics is that I am genuinely puzzled by it. Russians can read this blog, or anything else from the National Review to Salon. But Russians genuinely like Putin. Religious nuts are irrational, but Russians have access to the world, and no known religious axe to grind. I’m fascinated by the difference, and haven’t worked out its implications.

                    • False dichotomy. The options aren’t War or Nothing. All we needed to do was project power, even if a bluff.

                      The calculus was ridiculously different with Poland than with today, and to cite it as a rebuttal implies you don’t even believe in the Geopolitical Imperative argument you first touted. Russia’s effective border with the West was front line Germany…mere yards apart. Russia could count on the military and economic might of EASTERN Europe, Russia, the Russian hinterland, while not having to worry to much about it’s back door in Asia. It wasn’t the Russia we are dealing with today. Oh, and in case your memory is foggy, Reagan did manage to change Calculus in his 8 years, through LEADERSHIP. By the end of that 8 years the effective Russian border shifted 1000 miles east, with shaky bordering buffer states remaining.

                      Georgia is an arguable point, but that from a Geopolitical Perspective it meant much less to us in terms of containing Russia than would a stable and independent Ukraine. A stable and independent Ukraine sits right on the Russian core. They would have expend tremendous cultural energy worrying about that border. Enough to keep them from bothering with other adventures. There would have been no reason whatsoever to go to war against Ukraine. Just as soon as the ouster occurred, Obama could have projected a little confidence in the new government, made economic and subtle military overtures…enough to make Putin think twice. Putin may still have invaded anyway…so what, we still wouldn’t be committed to war…the point of the matter is Obama DID NOTHING.

                      I would argue that being a leader means that it is unethical to not lead.

                      Your “only point” about Russian popularity polls is completely undermined since it ignores the completely different culture they live in. I already explained that to you.

  3. I wonder if privately, it’s overwhelmed him. If he’s putting on a face for the media, but he’s just crippled. The man looks like he’s aged 30 years since he’s taken office, he hasn’t done anything right basically ever, and not a thing for months, aside from campaign speaking (which is definitely his comfort zone), and now, when the going gets tough, Obama takes off. It would be crippling for a president to admit he’s in therapy, and this is absolute, complete conjecture…. But I’m to the point that giving him the benefit of the doubt involves mental illness.

  4. When I was young I remember my parents talking about “The Peter Principle” a lot. Maybe that’s what happened to Mr Obama. He’s reached the level of his incompetence.
    But, that doesn’t explain why he was reelected. Unless, the people of the United States have also reached that level.

    • Why was he re-elected? It’s the old story about the man running away from the bear. His friend exclaims: “You can’t outrun a bear?” The man replies, “I know. All I have to do is outrun you.”

      The Republican Party offered some truly awful candidates. John McCain panicked during the financial crisis, and his running mate couldn’t even tell us which papers she read. The “47%” video destroyed Romney, given the dubious way in which he made his money, and Paul Ryan’s 2:50 marathon revealed a man who did not even have a casual relationship with the truth. Given the alternative, is it really that surprising?

      • No, not surprising. All people have mistakes and stupid statements in their history and no one is free of them. The difference is the degree of horror expressed by the media about the mistakes made by people on the political right.
        To me the awful statements made by the conservative candidates usually pale in comparison to the ones given a pass by liberal ones. Is saying “47%” really worse than “the police acted stupidly,” “if you like your plan you can keep your plan, “you didn’t build that?”
        I don’t think this is a “but he’s worse” rationalization. It’s a measure of the amount of BS people forgive depending on who you are. Politics of personal destruction.

        • Most people did what I did: compare the devil you know to the devil you don’t. The 47% quote was devastating because it revealed the real Mitt Romney: a man who would say or do anything to get what he wanted. A man without a conscience or a soul. It contradicted everything he tried to project on the campaign trail. Obama wasn’t the ideal President, but the alternative raised grave concerns.

          As for the “you didn’t build that” quote, it was accurate in context. Like it or not, government is a necessary evil. You need roads to get your products to your customers. A capitalist society needs adequate infrastructure; you “didn’t build” I-25 or I-80. Try driving from Sydney to Brisbane, and tell me that it isn’t valuable to have an Interstate or Autobahn.

          If Obama had wanted to be scrupulously precise, he should have said, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan, provided that it is a real plan and not illusory in nature.” Most states require auto insurance policies to meet certain minimum standards. Why not health insurance policies? You can argue that it is more efficient to nationalize health care (Mitt admitted that Israel’s system was cheaper and more efficient than ours), but when you simplify anything, you are going to miss a few exceptions. I don’t see these as inordinately problematic. Why do you?

          Obama’s “the police acted stupidly” remark is a horse of a different color. Specifically, black. If you’ve had enough bad experiences with the cops, the courts, the Church, or any other important institution, you are going to assume “there you go again.” Obama prejudged and shouldn’t have, and he ended up with egg on his face.

          Every statement needs to be evaluated on its own merit, but it is too often easier said than done. We’re all guilty of doing it, and we’ve all inserted a foot from time to time. I try to err on the side of being charitable.

          • “If Obama had wanted to be scrupulously precise, he should have said, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan, provided that it is a real plan and not illusory in nature.” ”

            Sure he could have, but he didn’t. And he didn’t because he knew it would cost him votes. “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period.” That IS what he said, and that it confuses you disappoints me.

            “Most states require auto insurance policies to meet certain minimum standards. Why not health insurance policies?”

            Because you don’t have to drive a car. You have to live. This is for all intents and purposes, a tax on life.

            ” but when you simplify anything, you are going to miss a few exceptions. I don’t see these as inordinately problematic. Why do you?”

            Did you really just call the ACA a simplification?

            • I think arguing with Steve is a lost cause, I really do. The fact that he would try to spin THAT lie shows he is either 1) without shame 2) cynical beyond functioning 3) a Democratic operative 4) clinically addled or 5) dumb as a brick.

              “real plan”—according to whom? Steve is using the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, and badly…

            • It doesn’t confuse me. It is just politician-speak. Pols have a remarkable aversion to saying anything that can’t fit on a bumper-sticker. The devil is always in the details, and if insurance companies are selling you worthless policies, you shouldn’t be allowed to keep them. If pols were required to speak “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” the campaign as we know it would cease to exist.

              I saw a great line that I am going to steal: “Cynicism has such marvelous predictive value.” And it does here, as well.

              One of the most grievous pitfalls of having a blog as extensive as this one is that you leave a paper trail. And in this case, our discussion leader has blithely passed off Mitt Romney’s “47%” gaffe as “salesmanship designed for a narrow audience.” ethicsalarms.com/2012/02/23/romneys-worst-weeks-and-the-27th-rationalization/#more-13989 No joke. Never mind that his man Mitt will say anything to anyone if it serves his purpose — Hillary, in a Saville Row suit — but Jack actually believes that Mitt ought to get a pass on that one. (If Hillary had said that one, I bet you could feel the reaction in Australia.)

              Judging from my review of stories tagged as Mitt Romney, his criticism of Mitt is remarkably muted, but he did have a problem with his remark that he “can’t have illegals” working for him because he was “running for office, for Pete’s sake,” suggesting that that is a window into Mitt’s soul, and that he prefers “pragmatism over principle.” “Ethics” is about putting principle before pragmatism, even when it is inconvenient.

              Think about it for a minute: The guy who says that we should grant judges absolute power to do whatever they want with total impunity because they can’t do their jobs without it (and who makes his living from those judges) will give judges he works for a free pass, because he prefers “pragmatism over principle” … but yet, it is a bad thing when Romney indulges?!?

              I may be a “lost cause,” Jack, but maybe some of you can see why. If this rash of double-standards constitutes “ethics” — there are plenty of others I can point to — then I don’t understand it. But what I don’t understand is the stream of verbal abuse directed at me, which has no place in a polite and respectful discussion. If we disagree, let’s not be disagreeable about it.

          • I didn’t vote for Romney, but the 47% remark had nothing to do with it. If you listen to that whole speech, he wasn’t saying anything surprising. He suffered in his delivery and I think he got a few things wrong but I still don’t understand why people were so angry with him over this.

      • I disagree and actually don’t see an issue with the practice of the “Peter Principle”.

        1) Obama hasn’t risen to his level of incompetence… he as managed to rise faster than opportunities to demonstrate his incompetence could present themselves. How long was he a Senator? What did he do before that? Yet, once in the office of president, he was stuck in a position that generates test after test after test in no time at all… before we even knew he was capable as a Senator, or whatever else he was before.

        2) “Peter Principle” – so? No one advances in life when they are prepared – they do their best to prepare, but are never truly prepared for the real thing until it happens Then prove themselves in unexpected trials or they don’t.

        3) There’s no real issue with this as long as advancement is methodical and gradual, meaning that mastery of 95% of your tasks allows you to flub 5% of them and then focus most of your energy mitigating the flubs, making correction, then learning, while other tasks can still be completed with little to no effort. It’s only an issue, like in Obama’s case, when advancement is far more rapid than one’s learning curve.

        • 1) modification: Obama hasn’t risen to his level of incompetence… he as managed to rise faster than opportunities to demonstrate his incompetence could present themselves. How long was he a Senator? What did he do before that? Yet, once in the office of president, he was stuck in a position that generates test after test after test in no time at all… before we even knew he was capable as a Senator, or whatever else he was before. And we certainly didn’t get to see any major tests of him between Senator and President… as the semi-traditional Cursus Honorum in American politics compels one to go through either in private sector, public sector or a combination of the two.

            • This qualifies as the dumbest post I’ve ever seen here. Congrats, luckyestman. Yes, anyone with American citizenship can become President, but it really behooves them to come to the table with a bit more than that. Other Presidents have had military experience, held the posts of Secretary of State or Cabinet Secretaries, 17 were Governors, they almost all have had more experience than Obama.

              Were blacks who criticized Bush racist? I don’t recall that ever being said. Is the President so weak in your eyes that you have to use the easiest knee-jerk argument to shut up opposition? The logical thing to do would be to tell us why you disagree. Yelling ‘racist’ isn’t going to either change people’s minds, nor make the elephant in the room go away.

  5. Well, get ready for Russia’s humanitarian aid package to Ukraine, to be delivered by a few tens of thousands of their regular troops and finest equipment. Let’s all hope Barack doesn’t get to read any newspapers while he vacations. We all know how we hate for him to be surprised.

  6. Last point, and I’ll leave this thread to die. Obama said this about why we are not in Iraq:

    “What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision. Under the previous administration, we had turned over the country to a sovereign, democratically elected Iraqi government. In order for us to maintain troops in Iraq, we needed the invitation of the Iraqi government and we needed assurances that our personnel would be immune from prosecution if, for example, they were protecting themselves and ended up getting in a firefight with Iraqis, that they wouldn’t be hauled before an Iraqi judicial system.

    And the Iraqi government, based on its political considerations, in part because Iraqis were tired of a U.S. occupation, declined to provide us those assurances. And on that basis, we left. We had offered to leave additional troops. So when you hear people say, do you regret, Mr. President, not leaving more troops, that presupposes that I would have overridden this sovereign government that we had turned the keys back over to and said, you know what, you’re democratic, you’re sovereign, except if I decide that it’s good for you to keep 10,000 or 15,000 or 25,000 Marines in your country, you don’t have a choice—which would have kind of run contrary to the entire argument we were making about turning over the country back to Iraqis, an argument not just made by me, but made by the previous administration.

    So let’s just be clear: The reason that we did not have a follow-on force in Iraq was because the Iraqis were—a majority of Iraqis did not want U.S. troops there, and politically they could not pass the kind of laws that would be required to protect our troops in Iraq.

    Having said all that, if in fact the Iraqi government behaved the way it did over the last five, six years, where it failed to pass legislation that would reincorporate Sunnis and give them a sense of ownership; if it had targeted certain Sunni leaders and jailed them; if it had alienated some of the Sunni tribes that we had brought back in during the so-called Awakening that helped us turn the tide in 2006—if they had done all those things and we had had troops there, the country wouldn’t be holding together either. The only difference would be we’d have a bunch of troops on the ground that would be vulnerable. And however many troops we had, we would have to now be reinforcing, I’d have to be protecting them, and we’d have a much bigger job. And probably, we would end up having to go up again in terms of the number of grounds troops to make sure that those forces were not vulnerable.

    So that entire analysis is bogus and is wrong. But it gets frequently peddled around here by folks who oftentimes are trying to defend previous policies that they themselves made.

    Going forward with respect to Afghanistan, we are leaving the follow-on force there. I think the lesson for Afghanistan is not the fact that we’ve got a follow-on force that will be capable of training and supporting Afghan security efforts. I think the real lesson in Afghanistan is that if factions in a country after a long period of civil war do not find a way to come up with a political accommodation; if they take maximalist positions and their attitude is, I want 100 percent of what I want and the other side gets nothing, then the center doesn’t hold.

    And the good news is, is that in part thanks to the excellent work of John Kerry and others, we now are seeing the two candidates in the recent presidential election start coming together and agreeing not only to move forward on the audit to be able to finally certify a winner in the election, but also the kinds of political accommodations that are going to be required to keep democracy moving.

    So that’s a real lesson I think for Afghanistan coming out of Iraq is, if you want this thing to work, then whether it’s different ethnicities, different religions, different regions, they’ve got to accommodate each other, otherwise you start tipping back into old patterns of violence. And it doesn’t matter how many U.S. troops are there—if that happens, you end up having a mess.”

    And the leadership deficit is?

    • You do realize the prosecution immunity was just an after the fact excuse right? You do recall Obama campaigning on GETTING OUT AND GETTING OUT FAST… right? You do remember that right?

      That if Obama’s true ideal was stability and success in Iraq, a real leader and negotiator would have been able to change the agreement with Maliki…

      But no, he wanted out and he wanted out now. What, did Maliki say “we want to prosecute your soldiers” and Obama gag on his water a little and say right away “peace out dude…see ya!”

    • And what does that have to do with the topic, anyway? Let’s say, for simplification’s sake, that I accept the premise of your post in it’s entirety, and Obama was hogtied by previous administrations and foreign powers. (I don’t, by the way, but let’s say)

      He’s playing golf, on vacation, while a major international crisis is breaking. He ordered military action, then left on vacation. The point is not whether we should be in Iraq or not, or if we have a place in Iraq now, it’s whether Obama should be in his office, doing his job. I don’t like comparisons, they leave room for #22 mistakes, but you want to make comparisons? Even Bush, quasi-addled idiot that he was, knew to give up golf in war time.

  7. “French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has a message about Iraq for Barack Obama: Get back to the White House and do something.
    ‘I know it is the holiday period in our Western countries,’ Fabius told a radio interviewer Tuesday in France,’ but when people are dying, you must come back from vacation.'”

    Clearly, the French President isn’t speaking literally, or he’s just biased against President Obama and isn’t properly comparing his conduct to that of say, Millard Fillmore.

    After all, the important thing isn’t whether a President’s conduct is perceived as weak and detached by foreign leaders, but whether a good rationalization, excuse, spin or precedent for the conduct can be manufactured by the President’s defenders, because “smart diplomacy” dictates that perceptions abroad don’t matter. If Ike’s vacations weren’t perceived as the mark of a weak leader, perhaps because everyone knew he was a proven leader to be reckoned with, then the fact that Obama’s vacations aren’t seen the same way just doesn’t matter, that’s all.

    Have I got it right yet?

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