|August 26, 2009|
|Come Back, Barack|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama deserve to get away from the August heat of Washington. It's a different story for Barack Obama. |
There was never a more important time for Obama to show a measure of presidential leadership. He needs to be in D.C. and at least be perceived to be in command because a barrage of bad news is battering the young administration.
The president's two signature issues, Afghanistan and healthcare reform are both are falling apart.
The New York Times reported yesterday about the rapidly deteriorating military situation in Afghanistan — never mind that the just completed, tainted election may keep the corrupt Hamid Karzai in power. U.S. commanders talk of a resurgent Taliban and the possible need for more American troops. Does Obama have the stomach to send thousands of more soldiers to Afghanistan? The American public certainly doesn't.
The Democratic healthcare reform plan is pummeled by both the hard right ("death panels") and way left ("public option"). Even turncoat Republican Senator Arlen Specter has joined the fray. Facing a tough Democratic primary opponent, Snarlin’ Arlen is getting valuable media time by objecting to a Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ "end of life" planning document that has been around for a decade. He wants a Senate hearing to be sure the document is not a “death book” for vets. With friends like Specter…
The president also needs to junk his persistent call for a bipartisan approach to healthcare. He can't even get the Democratic Blue Dogs to support reform.
More political fury is on the way. Critics are bound to go hog wild over the Justice Department decision to name a special prosecutor to investigate whether CIA agents tortured terrorism suspects. Their argument: Obama = soft on national security.
Further grief will come following today's report that the federal deficit has soared to $1.6T. The Washington Post notes the deficit jump is due to "the biggest drop in tax collections since the Great Depression combined with the biggest surge in spending since the Korean War." That's not exactly a good time for the president to be hanging out with the swells on Martha's Vineyard. Note to Barack: Don't invite John Kerry over for some windsurfing.
Mr. President, rest assured Michelle, Malia and Sasha will tough it out in your absence. This blogger remembers many long ago Trailways bus trips with mom and brother to visit relatives in Silver Spring, Md., and Fort Edward, N.Y., for a week of vacation. Dad remained in Brooklyn. He had to work. We still had a blast.
Some advice for Obama's handlers: Let's get real. The press has been told that the president has five books on his reading list for the week-long stay at the Vineyard. They are "The Way Home" by George Pelecanos, "Plainsong" by Kent Haruf, "John Adams" by David McCullough, "Hot, Flat and Crowded" by Tom Friedman and "Lush Life" by Richard Price. I read the John Adams book. It took more than a week to finish during morning and evening commutes of nearly an hour each way.
CNN helpfully notes that the five books weigh in at 2,300 pages. That means Obama, who also is golfing, swimming, playing tennis and dining out on the vacation, needs to read 300 pages a day. It's simply not going to happen.
Team Obama loses credibility with such off the wall claims about our prez. He isn't Superman.
(Photo: White House)
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