When President Obama paused on his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard to express what passed for outrage over the beheading of James Foley by an ISIS terrorist, he found himself the recipient of some outrage. That was because moments after discussing the torture beheading of a human being, he was spotted on the golf course enjoying himself, yucking it up with money managers and local celebrities. As Mediaite noted on Thursday, this was too much for MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough who called the president, “One cold bastard.”
Obama has been called “President Spock” by many of his admirers for his supposed coolness under pressure. There is a downside to that, as anyone who has ever a fan of “Star Trek” might recognize. Both Spock and Obama seem to lack a quality called “emotional intelligence,” which is the ability to monitor and appreciate one’s own emotions and that of others and then act accordingly.
Rick Ungat makes this point in Forbes, when he suggests that Obama golfing after discussing the slaughter of Foley was less about the optics and more about the president’s inability to feel our pain. President Clinton surely had that ability in abundance, as did George W. Bush. Obama does not seem to have that ability or even recognize that he needs it. As Spock might say, “Empathy? Ah, yes, one of your human emotions.”
What the Obama administration proposes to do about Foley’s beheading and the burgeoning threat of ISIS is unclear. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel played Captain Obvious when he suggested that ISIS was more than just a run in the mill terrorist group. It also fell to him to defend a failed commando raid in Syria, which was aimed at rescuing Foley and other American hostages. But he was largely silent about what will be done to deal with the threat as well.
That and the fact that the president is approaching the matter with a lack of seriousness has started to unsettle even the mainstream media. Neither Scarborough nor Ungat, who pronounced himself one of the supporters of the president, could be considered part of the vast right wing conspiracy. This will be a problem for the administration going forward.