Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Credit Shortage in D.C.

The question of how much credit President Obama deserves in the dramatic rescue of Captain Phillips has been batted around in the media for the past couple of days. Most of the comments I’ve heard have given Obama credit, though admittedly it’s in the negative form of credit for not preventing the Navy from rescuing Captain Phillips. (I don’t believe anyone has said he deserves credit for being the driving force behind the rescue).

I think the reason for the stinginess to Obama is that, right up until the moment when news of the successful rescue was broadcast on Easter Sunday, no American aware of the situation—and that includes Obama’s suporters—was entirely sure that Obama himself wouldn’t be the cause of a worse outcome, such as allowing the pirates to spirit Phillips successfully away into Somalia, or paying ransom to pirates to get him back.

Of the expert commentary I was hearing before the crisis was resolved, from retired military guys and merchant marines, none of them had the slightest doubt that the U.S. Navy would be able to rescue the Captain if allowed to do so; instead, what had them worried was that a decision might be made in the White House to appease the pirates, or otherwise tie the hands of the Navy—basically, they were terrified that Obama would order the Navy to stand by, or stand down and do nothing.

As it is now turning out, these anxieties were unfounded. Whether or not they were completely unfounded, we don’t know yet, because we’re not yet privy to the inner workings of Obama’s inner circle. (O, God, I can only imagine).

But why did America have so much doubt about whether or not Obama would do the right thing?

Because, no matter how successfully Obama seems to have stepped up to seeming “presidential” as a stylist or as an excellent speaker, what he hasn’t done is convince a lot of his countrymen that he’s going to do the right thing when it comes to protecting the country from our enemies. He’s only been in office eighty-some days, and just behold Caroline Glick’s terrifying summary of Obama’s single-minded mission to lower the flag.

I have no doubt that if Bush had still been in office, he was would have forcefully denounced this attack on American interests without diluting our national options with a lot of empty talk about “partnership” and “cooperation.” (This turned out as an American operation from first-to-last: partnership with other countries played no role in the rescue of Capt. Phillips.) Afterwards, Bush would have called to congratulate the commander and Capt. Phillips for their heroism, specifically commending captain and crew them for their exemplary “American” response to the pirate attack. There may even have been some good-natured bravado with the guys who went from being victims to victors in taking there ship back from these punks.

On some level even Bush’s enemies, and that vast swath of Americans who’ve allowed themselves to be persuaded that they always hated him, too, never would have had any doubt that Bush would come out swinging in the same circumstances. Most likely, as soon as the ship was taken, the New York Times and Phil Donohue would have been publicly begging for Congressional intervention to stop the Commander in Chief from reacting in a cowboy-like, "arrogant" fashion. But what never would have occurred to anyone would be that Commander-in-Chief Bush would ever call the Navy up and tell them to back off.

President Obama had millions of us convinced he just might be capable of that.

That element of doubt about this current president's judgment will not be cured just because the media tries this to call this a successful foreign crisis test.

1 comment:

Wendy Woodley said...

It's hard to be optimistic about the leadership of this president, who's on record for supporting the killing (or denying neccessary medical care) of American children both before and right after they're born.

In this instance, he did after all do the right thing apparently. For the sake of Captain Phillips and his family, I am glad of that.