During his six years in office, President Barack Obama has repeatedly demonstrated how out of touch he is with the American people, despite his populist rhetoric. The past week has been no exception. First, on Super Bowl Sunday, he participated in a softball interview with Savannah Guthrie of Today Show, which was clearly designed to showcase him in a casual setting and show the world that he is just a regular guy who enjoys football and beer. Somehow President Obama managed to squander the moment. When asked about if there was something that his administration could be doing to defeat ISIS more quickly, he responded that “we’re doing anything that we could be doing.” Two days later, when delivering his official response to the horrific burning of the Jordanian pilot at the hands of ISIS, he said that we were going to “redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of a global coalition to make sure that they (ISIS) are degraded and ultimately defeated.” How can he redouble efforts, if he was already deploying all resources to combat ISIS? Then on Thursday, February 5, President Obama used the platform of the National Prayer Meeting to issue a warning to Christians to “not get on their high horse”, for after all, back in the Crusades, Christians committed acts of violence against Muslims in the name of Christianity. President Obama neglected to mention that the Crusades were in reaction to years of oppression under Islamic control. If President Obama needed to go back 1000 years to come up with a reference, he should at least get his facts straight. He further exacerbated the situation by bringing in irrelevant comments about slavery and Jim Crow. Again, the wrong words for the wrong audience.
Beyond the fact that President Obama’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast insulted Christians, Jews and Muslims alike, President Obama’s remarks at this event and his other recent comments underline a problem in his leadership. He does not choose words that reflect leadership. Instead he lectures people. He tells us how to behave. Telling individuals not to get on a “high horse” is something that you might say to a petulant child or a rebellious adolescent. The phraseology was not appropriate for an audience of religious leaders. President Obama, who has been repeatedly praised for his oratory skills, knows that word choice and tone matter. Yet he frequently adopts the speech pattern of a college professor. His intentions may be good. He may truly believe that he is enlightening people. But he often comes across as patronizing, not inspiring. The American people don’t need a history or a morality lesson, they need a decisive leader with clear plan for protecting our national security, increasing our economic prosperity and improving our overall quality of life. President Obama’s words do not given us confidence that he has the situation under control. Once again, his failure to utter the words “radical Islamic terrorism” clearly shows that he is not truly ready to confront this problem. His National Security Strategy document further demonstrated this passivity in that it included the lines “In all our efforts, we aim to draw a stark contrast between what we stand for and the heinous deeds of terrorists. We reject the lie that America and its allies are at war with Islam.” Once again, this caveat had to be inserted.
Words matter, so do pictures. As soon as King Abdullah of Jordan learned of the horrific burning of the Jordanian pilot, he took action. He executed two terrorists. And he put on a camouflage jumpsuit. He showed the world that he was not going to stand for the actions of terrorists. President Obama has no comparable optic; instead, we have an image of him returning to the golf course moments after learning of the beheading of US journalist James Foley at the hands of ISIS. Obama’s visual images, like his words, are all about him showing us that he knows better than we do what is best for us. We have image after image of him delivering a stump speech where he tells about all the freebies available to the American people. We are going to receive free college, free healthcare, and free phones. You name it, he’s got it in his bag of goodies. Except for the fact that none of these items are really free. The tax payers are funding them. And his gift offerings have an ulterior motive. He will give you a phone or a gift card, if you give him a vote. Not a vote for him personally. After all, he has told us over and over again, he is not running again. He already won twice. No, it is a vote for his socialist agenda. So in his effort to appear like Santa Claus, he ends up just looking like Robin Hood.
We are living in a dangerous time. The United States needs a true leader. It does not need a lecturer nor a Santa Claus. It is not too late for President Obama to do the right thing. He needs to assume the leadership mantle. He needs to stop lecturing and start leading.
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