Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Man in the Mirror

I remember reading somewhere that back in the days when Michael Jackson was working on his follow up to Thriller, he wrote a message to himself on his bathroom mirror: 100 Million!  That was the number he wanted to sell of his new record.  The follow up he finally put out was called Bad, and though it did sell quite well, the sales weren't nearly as good as Michael had hoped for.

Watching President Obama prancing about the world stage in the past few weeks has me wondering if he doesn't have his own message on the mirror, maybe written with one of Michelle's very expensive tubes of lipstick.  What might his message say?  How about 6.1 billion!   If you haven't heard, that is the current estimate of our world's human population.  Obama has at times seemed as if he sees himself more as president of the world than merely of the United States, and I think it's an open question about whose approval he is most interested in receiving--the world's, or his own countrymen's.  However it is he actually regards himself, I doubt there are many in those billions who can clearly explain what exactly he has been up to in the past few weeks.

First there was the rather hollow sounding remarks he finally got around to making about the disasters in Japan--if he'd said something like bummer, dudes it might have come off as more sincere.  Concurrent with this was his swing through some of the countries of South America, including Brazil and Chile.  As we've come to expect, the family had a fine old time bouncing around the southern hemisphere on the taxpayer's dime.  Obama got to make some points with Brazilians by letting them know we're ready, willing and waiting to buy up a bunch of that oil they're going to get from offshore wells. He didn't go into the subject of where we're going to find the money to do that, but hey, he's the President, not an accountant.  In Chile, Michelle got to sip a little of the local wine while showing off her latest gown, but Obama was on the receiving end of a bit of unpleasantness when the Chilean president suggested that if Obama really wanted to help the economies down that way, he could throw his support behind free trade agreements with Columbia and Panama, something his administration and Democrats in Congress have been stalling for years, at the behest of American labor unions.

And while all this was going on the situation in Libya was rapidly spinning out of control.  Obama seemed to show little interest in the matter for weeks, during which time leading female political luminaries (Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton) led the charge along with some European leaders in calling for quick action to prevent M. Quadaffi from carrying out bloody retaliations against the Libyan rebels.  Obama first demanded that Quadaffi should just go away, which Quadaffi less than politely declined to do.  Since then Obama has cobbled together a strangely evolving coalition of United States and NATO forces that seems to be proceeding with little coherent instruction.

Obama's address on the subject earlier this week did little to illuminate his intentions.  The fact that he has essentially ignored the Congress and acted in a unilateral fashion that contradicts his previous opinions on the subject of presidential war powers is alarming and angering members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

I have a nagging fear that as much as Obama's actions about Libya have been confusing so many of us, the person who is most confused about all this is President Obama himself.  And that ain't good.