The Administration

Obama the hawk

The New York Times has another story of President Obama's forcefulness in the face of national security challenges — the second this week. Today's issue contains a report about Obama ordering cyberattacks on Iran, and the 6,000-word opus the Times ran on Tuesday about Obama's drone campaign is still on the lips of everyone in Washington. A must-read indeed.

Think what you will about the burgeoning use of drone strikes to kill terrorists, the cost, efficacy and sustainability of such a warfare program, the story includes fascinating political revelations as well. To start with, Obama's declaration on day two in office that he would close Guantanamo Bay within one year was not only a goal that would turn out to be impossible, but Obama didn't even expect closing Gitmo to be hard. So ignorant to the political realities of his promise was Obama that he ignored the advice of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder that they might get started lobbying Congress on the issue. They were told no, that healthcare reform was the higher priority.


A portrait of a president 8 years ago: When George & Laura hosted Bill & Hillary

When I was writing a book about Bill Clinton’s post-presidency, I tracked down every artist I could find who painted Bill. One of them was Simmie Knox, son of a sharecropper and the first African-American commissioned to paint the official White House portrait of a president. Knox told me about his boyhood on a plantation/farm and the segregated schools he attended.

In June 2004 in the East Room at the Bush White House — like now, the country in the midst of a mean reelection campaign — Knox’s portraits of Bill and Hillary, then U.S. senator from New York, were unveiled. I wrote in my book that President Bush won over the Clintons with his greeting, “Welcome home,” and reminded the assembled that he and his father call each other “41” and “43.” Turing to Clinton, Bush said, “We’re glad you’re here, 42.” That was the start of a thaw that produced a genuine and continuing friendship between 41 and 42. When the then-president mentioned Clinton’s mother, Virginia Kelley, and “the incredible pride” she would have felt that morning — she had died in 1994 — he brought the former president to tears.


Obama’s transparency joke

Al Kamen’s “In the Loop” column in The Washington Post reports that even though Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton only shows up 33 times on the White House logs over the past three years, her spokesman says Clinton has actually made 681 trips to the White House.

The obvious question that follows is that if signing into the White House visitor logs is routinely ignored for, as Kamen called them, “bigwigs” who most often get waved in, are they a legitimate tool for the public to learn which lobbyists are camping out in the White House doing business?


President Obama's skin color should never be the issue

When it comes to those American whites who are uncomfortable with a black president, there has been no shortage of racial distortion either. Some have tried to use Obama's skin color and Muslim name to prey upon the fears of a white electorate that has seen its economic prosperity plummet amid an overall decline in America's global influence. Others have even gone so far as to question his citizenship and his birthright. Still others have deliberately misconstrued his political philosophy in a racially tinged manner — asserting that he's an African anti-colonial revolutionary.


Cool man Barack

She: I love you.

He: Thank you.

Wow. That kind of cool repartee, by a young man courting a young woman, says a lot about the style and temperament of our president. David Mariness’s book excerpt in the recent Vanity Fair includes stories about President Obama’s college days in New York City, from which this telling “romantic” exchange took place.


A polarizing White House

Vice President Biden indicated in a passionate speech yesterday that the American Dream was dying (Obama was elected president) for those not born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

It is difficult to understand how he has arrived at such conclusions. In fact, there are many hardworking Americans who, despite the difficult economic times, are finding ways to be successful and productive.


Fire Joe Biden

Possibly because of the Obama/Hollywood fete this week with Obama yukking it up with George Clooney and the Beautiful People, I keep getting this annoying image of Joe Biden in “Apocalypse Now” with Obama as the Brando baldy Col. Kurtz, the god-king gone mad from self-idolatry and ethereal abstraction, and Biden as his coked-up scurrying sidekick (originally played by Dennis Hopper): “He (Obama/Brando/Kurtz) is not like you and I,” says Hopper/Biden, wild-eyed and arms flailing. “He reads poetry. Out loud!” T.S. Eliot, no doubt.

I cannot imagine how Obama, five points behind Mitt Romney in the current Rasmussen poll, thinks this is going to work for him. Does he really want to be president a second term or is president just resume filler and like Kurtz (and Clinton), he has greater plans ahead as a demigod?


Obama’s same-sex marriage stand is all about votes

I don’t buy the White House version about Obama’s stand on gay marriage according to which he was bounced into the announcement last night by something Vice President Biden said on Sunday.

You don’t bounce the president of the United States, particularly a lawyer like Barack Obama, into adopting a position only months from a presidential election.

On the contrary, it looks more like a carefully choreographed move. Biden laid the groundwork for the announcement by Obama on ABC News that his “evolving” position had now settled on a full-throated “personal” support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to wed.


On the announcement

In many ways, President Obama’s new position on the whole issue of gay marriage is completely irrelevant. This has largely been a state issue, and while the Justice Department decided not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, the president’s signature or veto is not pending on any piece of legislation produced by the Congress.
But that is not how the media played it. For them, this issue is far bigger than Social Security reform, Medicare reform, the debt limit, the largest tax increase in history (which is just around the corner) and the shocking lack of leadership from this president on a host of other issues.


Gay marriage: Politics or principles

The same-sex marriage issue and Obama's inability to have a consistent viewpoint illustrates that he is nothing more than a politician whose views fluctuate with the wind. It is obvious that this is all about politics, Vice President Biden included.

There was a vote in North Carolina that the president was hoping to affect, and failed miserably. His left-wing base are clamoring for his approval on gay marriage before they will fully commit to him. Therefore, principles have gone out of the window and politics has taken the driver’s seat.