FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
An Utter Lack of Testing: Will President Obama Become an Object Lesson in What’s Wrong With Our Presidential Selection Process?
Though the deepening economic crisis is certainly enough to fulfill most citizens’ worry quota for the year (if not longer), President Obama’s impotent flailing about on the economy shouldn’t be Americans’ only reason to be concerned about their president, a relatively young man who has shown no ability to succeed at any non-campaigning endeavor in his brief but highly publicized career. As noted here on RS before, the UK Telegraph recently quoted a source “close to members of Mr. Obama’s inner circle” as “express[ing] concern that [the President] ha[s] failed so far to ‘even fake an interest in foreign policy.’”
“Obama is overwhelmed,” the Telegraph quotes the source as saying. “There is a zero sum tension between his ability to attend to the economic issues and his ability to be a proactive sculptor of the national security agenda.”
With global threats like a near-nuclear Iran, an unstable and passive-aggressive North Korea, a once again expanding Russia, a quickly-fading counterterror ally in Pakistan, and unrelenting Islamist terrorism — just to name a few — present and growing, this is a very, very bad time to have a young, untested man who is reportedly “facing exhaustion over America’s economic crisis and is unable to focus on foreign affairs” sitting in the White House making decisions that literally affect the lives of people all around the globe.
It’s even worse time to have someone at the controls who is giving strong signals, through his response to that crisis, that his reaction to domestic crises will be to attempt to shoehorn reality into his dogmatic-leftist worldview, and to international crises will be to immediately assume a position of weakness and begin negotiating for “peace” from there (ask Pakistan how well that’s working out for them so far).
A Lack of Testing
Military special operations training always includes a portion known, whatever its formal name, as “Selection.” This iteration, which usually takes place at the beginning of the training process, is designed for the most part to find out who can perform under intense pressure — both mental and physical — and who cannot, and to weed out those who fall into the latter group. The Selection process includes putting people who have already mentally and physically prequalified for training through a grinder of continuous mental and physical stresses, which are then compounded, during portions of the program, by the addition of environmental extremes like heat, freezing cold, and sleep deprivation.
The purpose of this exhausting process is twofold. First, as mentioned above, it is to find out who can handle such stresses in such a way as to perform necessary tasks and to continue functioning in such a way as to not endanger either teammates or mission (and to get rid of those who cannot). Second, it is to impart into those who do succeed, through experience, the knowledge that they can continue to perform and to succeed under the most exhausting of mental and physical conditions, and to provide them with something to fall back on when they inevitably find themselves facing a similar situation in real (combat) life.
If there is a single Achilles heel in our electoral system that I can point to as being the greatest risk to our nation’s security and future, I would have to say it is the fact that a person can ascend to the highest, most powerful, and most vital office in the land without ever once having shown how he or she would react when actually tested in a stressful situation — let alone in a crisis, when millions of lives hang on the thread of that leader’s ability to remain calm, cool, and rational when everything is going to hell around him.
President Obama is already showing the strain and exhaustion that come from being burdened with the highest office in the land — and it’s only been seven weeks. With him, we could very well be heading for an object lesson in the utter lack of testing and preparation we require our candidates for the Presidency to undergo. We may also gain a reprieve in this respect, and escape such an object lesson; however, avoiding that lesson now simply delays the inevitable, and allows us to operate for a bit longer under the delusion that our system actually allows us to pick the very best leader and president available.
Only one thing is for certain in this regard: Whenever we do have to learn that lesson, it will be an incredibly painful one, with consequences that reach farther, and last longer, than we can presently imagine.