President Obama had all the answers for what ails us during the campaign but now that he is president, he can’t decide a thing.
With regard to health care, he ordered Congress to get him a health care bill by the Congressional recess in August and demanded that the bill must contain a public option. Although he proclaimed he wanted a bill he refused to be specific and refused to lift a finger to get it done. Then, when it was clear he was not going to get a bill by August and realized that there was deep dissention within his own ranks over the public option, and the cost, he backed off the public option and said it wasn’t a deal breaker and set another artificial deadline for a bill to be passed.
The president refused to put forth his own health care bill and as a result there was no leadership. Over 5 bills floated around the relevant committees of the House and Senate and months and months past before the House finally voted on a mega 1,900 page bill that members could not have possibly read or digested prior to voting. In addition, there was no real debate on the House bill and it has no little or no chance of being reconciled with anything the Senate may do.
Had the president been a decider and a leader he would have led on health care.
Now with regard to Afghanistan, candidate Obama declared that Afghanistan is "a war of necessity." He stated that should he become president he would be decisive and listen to his battlefield commanders.
In early February of this year, shortly after becoming president, and based on the Bush administration strategy, President Obama sent an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan and accepted the recommendation of his military commanders with little or no fanfare.
Now it has become clear that the president is faced with a major policy decision regarding America’s commitment to the war in Afghanistan. His decision will bind his administration and that of his successor and will mark either success or failure in our efforts to battle those who seek to cause America and our allies’ great harm.
Despite his promise as a candidate to be decisive and to listen to his battlefield commanders, the president has been unable to make a decision despite the warnings by the military that action needs to be taken in Afghanistan and taken quickly. He is ignoring the very battlefield commanders he pledged to listen to. General Stanley McCrystal -- Obama’s hand picked commander in Afghanistan -- warns that conditions on the ground are deteriorating fast and that once the winter sets in it will hamper our efforts to make headway against the enemy and will give the enemy an opportunity to gain more ground and regroup for a spring offensive.
The longer the president “dithers” the more we see dissention come to the fore within his own administration by way of leaks and contradictory statements of policy.
The president’s indecision emboldens our enemies, troubles our allies and demoralizes our troops.
The president has exhibited a pattern of indecisiveness since taking office that is very troubling. He has been indecisive on the economy, health care, Afghanistan, and the list goes on.
The danger of taking inaction is as perilous as making the wrong decision.
This president loves being “The President”. He loves the AF1, the limo, the White House, and the deference that comes with the job. What he clearly does not relish is the times when governing and deciding gets in the way of all the “fun.”
Bradley A. Blakeman is a professor of Public Policy and Politics at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum. He was served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04.
Former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush