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Susan Estrich
12 Sep 2014
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Commander in Chief

Comment

"If we take the proper steps, we can save lives, but we have to act fast," President Obama said on Tuesday. "We can't dawdle on this one. We have to move with force and make sure that we are catching this as best we can given that this has broken out in ways we have not seen before."

The president was in Atlanta announcing an expanded military effort to aid African countries fighting Ebola, but he also might have been talking about the necessity of stopping the oil-fueled terrorism and hate of ISIL.

Obama did not set about to be a foreign policy president. He was going to be the health care president, the guy who focused on jobs and equality and the environment and education.

But with two years left in his term, the president can't do much of anything about any of those things, other than issue executive orders and (if Democrats hold onto the Senate) appoint people. If Democrats lose the Senate, so much for the appointments piece. For better or worse, like it or not, the domestic agenda — whether right or left — is caught in gridlock. For better or worse, like it or not, Obama must face the challenges of a world in crisis.

Amidst the horror being wreaked by these extremists is an opportunity for this president to rise above the pettiness of American politics and act as the commander in chief. The extremists have created a coalition that would not otherwise exist, and, equally improbably, they have silenced the partisan attacks from Speaker Boehner and his crowd. Now the president must take the next step — away from politics.

Leave it to the Senate Democrats to fight their fights in the battleground states where the president's presence doesn't help anyway. Enough with the endless fundraising for negative ads and back-and-forth blame games.

Enlist Bill Clinton to do the domestic rallies. Send Joe Biden to collect checks from the big donors. The best thing Obama can do is to confront the world, speaking for a united country, facing danger with determination and boldness.

This is not our president's natural inclination. His critics, and even his friends, have complained that "not doing something stupid" is not a strategy or a worldview. Even now, with the country, and especially his opponents, ready to give him more authority than he is asking for, the concern — and it is a real one — is that the president is asking for too little and not too much, that it may take special forces "advisers" to stop ISIL and not just air strikes, that no boots on the ground might more accurately mean no boots on the ground in frontline combat.

We have had too many presidents who have found it too easy to send young men and women into harm's way. Not making mistakes is not a strategy, but it remains a good idea. The president should not be reckless, but neither should he be timid.

I usually start to laugh when politicians start invoking "the American people," as if we are a monolith who speaks in one voice directly into the ear that is not hooked up to a television camera. But this is one of those occasions where it seems almost true that the country wants to be united, wants to be strong, wants to fight back and, most importantly, wants a president we can trust and rely on in the battle.

Easy? Of course not. But the president is not the newbie he was six years ago. The best thing he can do for his party, his country and his legacy, let alone the people who are in harm's way, is to focus not only on the belated battle against Ebola, but also on the belated and necessary world effort to deal with the threat of extremism that knows no limits. He might just be the national security president yet. And by the way, the Democrats might even hold the Senate.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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Comments

4 Comments | Post Comment
In her Op-Ed, Ms. Estrich wrote: "The best thing he (i.e., Obama) can do for his party, his country and his legacy, let alone the people who are in harm's way, is to focus not only on the belated battle against Ebola, but also on the belated and necessary world effort to deal with the threat of extremism that knows no limits. He might just be the national security president yet."

I'm afraid you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear or a Winston Churchill out a James Buchanan. If the dear leader had any diplomatic or national security skills, he would have shown them by now.

In the last six years, the President has clearly demonstrated his inability to:
(1) Work productively with members of his own party or friendly foreign leaders (let alone anyone who opposes him).
(2) Take the advice of his senior (and presumably more knowledgeable) advisors (e.g., The Joint Chiefs of Staff or the CINCs).
(3) Admit his own mistakes and correct them.
(4) Hold anyone (From the IRS to the President of Syria) accountable for their actions.

This all loudly proclaims that the transition Ms. Estrich hopes for is far beyond the dear leaders skill set. Really Ms. Estrich, wish for something more obtainable, like a Faster Than Light (FTL) space drive.

The best the country can expect is a successful delaying action until the 2016 elections. Hopefully, by then, the country will have by then learned something about both the value of electing leaders who have a demonstrated ability to lead, and the dangers of electing untested dreamers to high office.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Old Navy
Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:34 AM
Government gridlock - I love it!!
As far a Commander in Chief we don't have one!
A person's strength lies in when they can admit they are wrong! Susan?
Comment: #2
Posted by: Oldtimer
Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:08 AM
Commander in Chief ? Give me a break ! No !

Liar in Chief? Yes.
Deceiver in Chief? Yes!
Narcissist in Chief? Yes!
Islamist sympathizer in Chief? Yes!
Doofus in Chief? Yes!
Ditherer in Chief? Yes!
Coward in Chief? Yes!

Strategist in Chief? LOL!

To barry boy he is a commander. To Moochelle he is a commander. To the morons who continue to give him the affirmative action pass he is a commander.

But to a commander? He is no commander.
Comment: #3
Posted by: joseph wright
Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:34 AM
Dear Ms. Estrich,
As you must know from your side of the aisle, we no longer have a united country! As Congressman Rangel stated, when this President does something, that he objects to, he'll give a fee pass because he trusts him that he wouldn't give to a Republican president! Right there it is in your face Ms. Estrich!!!
Would you PLEASE explain just what is so great about former president Bill Clinton, and soon to be ex Vice President Biden [every time he opens his mouth he sounds like chalk screeching across the blackboard].
Nuff Said...Dennis
Comment: #4
Posted by: Dennis
Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:13 PM
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