Throughout our history, our nation has always faced its shares of trials, trouble and travail. Depressions…World Wars…a Cold War…a Civil War…Civil Rights…attacks on our soil at Ft. McHenry…Pearl Harbor…the World Trade Center. But throughout all those challenging times, America has had Presidents rise to the occasion, and through their vision, their foresight and their stirring words they have rallied the American people and through the sheer force of their will led us to engage and overcome the great struggles of their times. Even individuals with a mere passing knowledge could match these timeless nuggets with the President who uttered them and the crisis spurred them:
“Fourscore and seven years ago, our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
“I can hear you. The rest of the world can hear you. And the people who knocked these buildings down are going to hear all of us soon.”
The United States is facing some perilous times.Â Internationally, the Middle East is in turmoil as Egypt andÂ now Libya are wracked by violence and Islamic fundamentalism. Japan just suffered a 300-year earthquake of epic proportion and has a nuclear power plant that is, at best, in serious condition. Iran continues apace with its nuclear development and Iraq and Afghanistan continue to demonstrate instability.
Domestically, we face a financial crisis the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression. We are on a completely unsustainable trajectory with regards to spending. Total U.S. debt will soon surpass $14 trillion dollars, 31.9% of which, as of September 2010, is owed to foreign creditors.Â (for some perspective,Â 1,000,000,000,000 secondsÂ = 31,688 years. Now, multiply that by 14)Â Considering that the entire U.S. GDP is $14 trillion dollars, that means that our current debt is almost at 100% of our total economy; those are Greece-like numbers.
And it’s not getting any better. February’s deficit of $222.5 billion (remember when we were appalled at deficits of that size for an entire fiscal year?) broke last February’s deficit of $220.9 billion, and we are heading for a third straight year of trillion dollar-plus deficits. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist, nor anyone with the ability to add and subtract, to figure out that we are spending our way into oblivion.
So as the fiscal crisis mounts, and the Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate battle over budget reductions and Continuing Resolutions to keep the Leviathan funded, what bold leadership steps did President Obama take over the weekend?
Well, he went golfing for the 61st time in his Presidency, and on Sunday he taped for future viewingÂ – wait for it – his NCAA brackets. That’s right, it is apparently of national importance that President Obama weigh in on who his picks are for the Sweet 16 but not on steps he believes need to be taken to solve our fiscal crisis.
And don’t for a minute believe that this is an oversight. It is an intentional strategy by the White House.Â In an AP fluff piece…er, article in which President Obama’s strategy is loftily referred to as “an above the fray strategy”, the following quotes were issued by White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer:
Pfeiffer said Obama has enough issues on his agenda and said the White House doesn’t believe the public wants the president weighing in on an array of subjects.
“They want him leading the country; they don’t want him serving as a cable commentator for the issue of the day,” he said.
“They want him leading the country?”
Are. You. Serious?Â
By sharing with the country his Presidential vision for…the NCAA Basketball Tournament? By making comments like he did Monday?
“They need to sit down and work this thing out. I fail to understand why this should be so difficult.”
“They?”,Â Mr. President. “They?!?” The aloof detachment and hubris of that statement is just stunning. Perhaps that’s all we should have expected from a man who voted “Present” 129 times while he was a state senator, and who spent half of the time he “served” in the Senate campaigning for President. But in my lifetime, agree or diagree politically, I have never seen any President of either Party exhibit such total and complete disregard for the duties of his office, including the duty to lead.
Let me be clear, this has nothing to do with ideology. Some of the quotes above came from the lips of men with whom I have profound philisophical differences. But theyÂ at least had the courage and sense of responsibility to lead their countrymen in times of crisis.
Partisans on both sides of the aisle always have, and always will, have their philisophical differences. That is how it has been since the Founders created this glorious Republic, and it is how they intended it to be. But an abdication of a President’s moral obligation to lead the veryÂ country whichÂ elected him to be their leader is simply inexcusable. America deserves better, and such feckless disregard for the moral duty to leadÂ must be roundly repudiated by all Americans, regardless of political persuasion.
It is simply indefensible.