NYT: Disengaged Obama Fidgeted Like a Child During White House Meetings on Syria

The New York Times provides a brief, strange view into how President Barack Obama behaves during meetings in which his decisions will decide life or death and put the prestige of the United States on the line.


Even as the debate about arming the rebels took on a new urgency, Mr. Obama rarely voiced strong opinions during senior staff meetings. But current and former officials said his body language was telling: he often appeared impatient or disengaged while listening to the debate, sometimes scrolling through messages on his BlackBerry or slouching and chewing gum.

He rarely voiced strong opinions probably because he doesn’t know enough to have any of his own. Obama came to the presidency without a shred of foreign policy experience. He actually believed that his election would solve the Islamist problem, which has been centuries in the making.

We’ve all seen children who behave the way he did in those meetings. I used to see it when I taught Sunday School. They didn’t want to be there. They didn’t even really know why they were there. Their parents made them go, so there they were occupying a chair. They just checked out. They stared out the window. They amused themselves in some make-believe, or drawing on a piece of paper, or fiddling with something.


They tended to think of themselves as victims the whole time. And so it is with Barack Obama.

In private conversations with aides, Mr. Obama described Syria as one of those hellish problems every president faces, where the risks are endless and all the options are bad. Those views would then be reflected in larger groups by Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, and Mr. McDonough.

Syria is a hellish problem, as it has been for years. Obama’s tactics have made it worse — he legitimized Assad by opening diplomacy to him while Hillary Clinton and others in the administration described Assad as a “reformer” despite the fact that Assad hadn’t reformed anything. That emboldens the likes of Assad. On the other hand, Obama’s policies in Libya and Egypt gave Islamists reasons to believe that he would back them against Assad. Both sides have been encouraged by Obama’s own behavior to fight, not that they needed much encouragement.

But now Obama sees himself as the victim, woe is me, why can’t everyone just get along?


Pathetic. He’s the kid who never paid attention in class, then flunks the pop quiz and blames it all on the teacher.

We’re seeing the same pattern now with Obamacare, too. Testing over the months leading up to Healthcare.gov’s rollout showed that the site wasn’t ready to go. Its rollout has been a massive disaster. But Obama has to fake anger while his own underlings say that he didn’t know anything about the site until it flopped in public. Was he chewing gum during those meetings, too? Was he checking sports scores on his Blackberry while the contractors warned that the site wasn’t ready to go? Did he even know enough to have an opinion on whether the rollout should be delayed or not?

We have a wise-cracking slacker president on our hands, with three more years to go.

h/t JWF



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