President Barack Obama has been golfing, vacationing and living the high life for several months, to the point where his own United Nations Ambassador was actually more forceful regarding Russia than her Commander-in-chief boss was. Now, both friends and foes alike have been asking one question about the Big Cheese at 1600 Penn.
Has President Obama checked out?
It’s not good public relations for any Press Secretary to say it, so MarketWatch postulated the theory that President Obama, feeling completely slighted by the world and dejected by his own citizens, has decided to give up the ghost on his presidency. Where most Oval Office occupants would be busy securing their “legacies,” Obama has been in active-avoidance mode, conducting social calls and his business with a near devil-may-care attitude reminiscent of the French salon culture. Even MSNBC commentator Donny Deutsch, a known Obama supporter, was forced to admit the obvious.
“He almost seemed — I don’t want to say checked-out because that is not the right thing — but watching him, his cadence was different. He feels like he almost wants to go home at this point.”
Obama may actually have justification, however twisted and misaligned, for this mentality. His signature piece of legislation is being picked apart in the courts like roadkill by vultures. His diplomatic policy is being challenged at every single opportunity by those who once posed as allies. Those who once supported him and swept him into power are now regarding him as a sellout.
In short, the President is being attacked on all sides and, for lack of a better word, looks "old."
Now the better question to ask is whether the President’s decision to mentally “check out” has caused all the recent slate of world crises, or if it is merely the end result. Russia's aggression towards Ukraine, Hamas and Israel trading blows, and the even the predictably unpredictable Kim Jong Un of North Korea has left the Prez with more than a few gray hairs his head. Unfortunately, Obama is a big-picture thinker in a community organizer's body, and those two destinies are, at their core, fundamentally incompatible. To be the sort of transformational president which Obama dreams of being remembered as, looking at the big picture, and all its nuances, rather than running away from said nuances, is essential to the job.
To commit to anything less than this sort of long-view thinking would be akin to abandoning a destination because the fastest freeway was closed for construction and the only option is that winding road that takes you hours out of the way.
President Obama may, indeed, be regarded in the same breath as Abraham Lincoln down the road, but it's unlikely it will be for any actual acts performed. Instead, his legacy's trajectory appears to be as someone who brought America’s electoral process full-circle. Indeed, his administration was responsible for the death of the world’s most wanted terrorist, but that will be a footnote in history. Obama’s legacy appears to be redefining what it means to be President, and just how heavy the burden of the office really is. His legacy includes the most expensive campaign in history, the most overhyped convention nomination in history, and the most underwhelming administration in recent memory. Where former President Carter was a genuinely honest man in over his head, Obama is more of an activist who has tried to do too much, too fast, too soon; a man elected not to lift America up, but to settle scores of those who felt left out, disaffected.
On his current path, he will be regarded not an emancipator or a transformer; instead, he will be regarded as the president who competed the transitioning of the nation from a republic to a plutocracy. If this is Obama’s legacy, this is an unfortunately one, and history will judge his apparent lack of interest in his duties more harshly than he could ever imagine. The President would do well, for the sake of the health of the whole world, to dive back into the furball and get some real work done.