Barack Obama and the Politics of Crisis
We all recall the words of the man who allegedly gets naked and pokes Congressmen in the shower when he said of the greatest economic crisis in America since the Great Depression,
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”
The President and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel seem to be joined at the hip when it comes to the idea that addressing the actual crisis is at best secondary to making sure that you maximize the political gain that can be squeezed from the human suffering or ecological calamity of whatever crisis happens to come along.
This helps to explain the response time of Obama to the crises he has faced since taking office. With each crisis, the response time seems to almost come in slow motion. The Christmas day bomber required three days of thought, and some additional golfing, while the oil spill was initially passed off as an inconvenience that would be easily dealt with until the political, and strikingly not the ecological or human, toll was felt. It too, required some additional golf time.
Remember, this is the same man who said at his DNC acceptance speech that we would all look back someday and say that,
“this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal”
And yet his initial detachment from the worst ecological disaster in American history is, to say the least, incongruous and disconcerting.
When the political fallout became apparent, Obama finally attempted to walk the beaches of the Gulf and appear empathetic, but he could not simply leave it at that. Instead, he went to Pittsburgh to address the AFL-CIO and used the opportunity not to ease the worries of a frightened and frustrated nation, but instead he chose that moment to bash Republicans and push for his unpopular Cap and Trade legislation along with a slew of other political objectives including increased regulation and higher taxes.
The pattern only seems to be the repetition of his responses to the crises in Iran, North Korea, and with the Flotilla incident.
His reaction to the shootings at Fort Hood was, without a doubt, the most bizarre and unsettling of all the strange and slow reactions to crises thus far. His first reaction was to admonish us all not to jump to any conclusions that this might somehow be motivated by radical Islam, but that was only the tip of the outlandish iceberg.
His Press Conference about the Fort Hood massacre began not with a solemn homage to the fallen and their families, but instead with some peculiar and almost preternatural shout out to someone in the audience as though he was at a campaign rally or a celebrity event. His curious alienation from the actual emotion of the moment seems to illustrate that he is almost sociopathic in his detachment from the human toll of the crisis itself, and instead he seems to see things only through the prism of his own ideology and agenda.
Mr. President, we need you to lead the country, not just your Party.