One of the main indictments of the Clinton administration was its willingness to kick substantive policy issues down the road while bringing out the marching band to herald irrelevant acts. George Will called it a “holiday from history.” After 9/11, Charles Krauthammer had more to say:
That is how one acts on holiday: Mortal enemies are dealt with not as combatants, but as defendants. Clinton flattered himself as looking beyond such mundane problems to a grander transnational vision (global warming, migration and the like), while dispatching U.S. military might to quell “teacup wars” in places like Bosnia. On June 19, 2000, the administration solved the rogue-state problem by abolishing the term and replacing it with “states of concern.” Unconcerned, the rogues prospered, arming and girding themselves for big wars.
In the Washington Free Beacon, Matthew Continetti has a column called Dialing it in which demonstrates a lackadaisical attitude on the part of Obama that makes Clinton look frenetic.
One evening in March, during a visit to Italy, President Obama asked the U.S. ambassador to round up a bunch of—and I quote—“interesting Italians” for a dinner at the ambassadorial residence. The history of the property, the Villa Taverna, goes as far back as the tenth century. Its art collection includes Roman sarcophagi and centuries-old imperial busts. The menu that evening included a variety of pastas, and wines from Tuscany and the regions around Venice. Dinner lasted four hours.
The next morning, during a briefing, the president—whose office holds a burden of responsibility matched only by its power—regretted that his job involved duties other than pretentious conversation with extremely wealthy famous people. “One aide paraphrased Obama’s response: ‘Just last night I was talking about life and art, big interesting things, and now we’re back to the minuscule things of politics.” You know, minuscule things like the maskirovka invasion of Ukraine, the implementation of Obamacare, scandals at the IRS and Department of Veterans Affairs, negotiations with Syria and Iran, withdrawal from Afghanistan. These subjects are far too small and mundane for our president. He prefers contemplative and thoughtful and nuanced symposia on philosophy, quantum mechanics, and how best to spend inheritances—all accompanied by Tuscan wine.
At a time in our history where the nation is beset with difficulties, the number and scope of which have rarely been exceeded since 1945, the president is bored with his job. Our economy is stagnant with real wages down and actual unemployment stable around 14%. Interest rates are outstripped by inflation making saving a losing proposition. Energy production is in the thrall of environmental radicals. Abroad our alliances are in tatters. Al Qaeda is carving sanctuaries from Syria, Iraq, and Libya. China seems poised for military adventures at that expense of her neighbors.
In the face of this, Obama is not even attempting to bend or shape events. He has created a regime that is equal parts the court of the Sun King, though without it intellectual heft or accomplishments, and Nero with his fiddle. It will be decades before we recover from his misrule.