Here's my article at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's student newspaper for this week. Thanks for Reading!
Obama Fails to Respond
As our country faces its worst economy in decades, as our national debt surpasses the entire GDP of India, as worldwide turmoil threatens our energy security and as a horrific tragedy in Japan claimed the lives of the thousands, the leader of the free world found time to pick Kansas as the champion of his 2011 March Madness bracket.
It's not that president Barack Obama picked Kansas as the national champion that has myself and many other Americans perplexed. It's the fact that during a time when a leader is supposed to be leading, Obama seems to be doing anything but. Instead, as The Los Angeles Times recently put it, it appears as though the president is already in "campaign mode." How?
Nearly a week after the tragedy in Japan took place, the president addressed the nation on the disaster. But not before he found time to address two posh Democratic National Committee fundraisers, one of which, Politico reports, cost each attendee $30,800. Moreover, the president has been spending more and more time in key battleground states, giving interviews to local TV stations in Pennsylvania and Florida.
What Obama fails to see is the fact that both the nation and the world need a leader who is willing to take a stand, not a campaigner who is able to give a speech. Even before the crisis in Libya began, the world seemed in chaos. The price of oil was skyrocketing, while a tsunami devastated one of our strongest allies and trade partners—Japan. Additionally, our own government was facing the threat of a shutdown if Congress didn't agree on a budget.
Then came Libya.
It seems as though the most egregious demonstration of our president's lack of leadership is his response to the current crisis in Libya. Before it began, Obama offered little direction to the international community on what should be done. Instead, he allowed Britain and France to determine the best course of action.
Now, American airmen and sailors are risking their lives executing a mission ordered by Obama and authorized by no one but the United Nations. Once a consensus in the international community seemed to have been reached, instead of seeking authorization from Congress, the president considered authorization from the UN reason enough to send American forces into harm's way.
Since when does the international legislative body in New York trump the authority of the one in Washington?
Furthermore, why hasn't Obama sat down with the American people to discuss his rationale behind the use of force?
Any time an American president sends American forces into battle, an address to the nation from the oval office explaining both the action and the mission are usually in order. Instead, after a brief statement on the issue at 2 p.m. Friday, the President boarded Air Force One for a five-day trip to South America.
Based on the President's lack of leadership, it seems as though "American Exceptionalism" is being replaced by "American Acceptionalism." That is, the United States accepts the will of the international community and becomes just one country among the many.
This cannot be allowed to happen.
America needs to provide solid leadership in times of
turmoil and in times of peace. We cannot afford to have a president who wants to vote ‘present' in a world where action is demanded. Obama must stand up and do the job he was elected to do. He needs to lead, not offer an analysis of the NCAA basketball tournament in a time of crisis.
Matt Payne is a junior majoring in Chinese and economics. Please send all feedback to [email protected]