The Libyan nutjob, Daffy Qaddafi, has big problems, but America is not among them. At least not until the Obama administration gets its act together to speak with one voice.
Continuing the mixed-message habit it showed in Egypt, the White House appears to be locked in an internal struggle about responding to the Arab uprisings. Details will make a good history class some day, but for now, the result is a mess.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says a no-fly zone is on the table. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates promptly shoots it down, telling Congress there are logistical problems, and it would mean an attack on Libyan air-defense systems. President Obama then suggests no-fly remains an option. Got that?
It's tempting to hope the goal is to keep Qaddafi off guard, but that's too generous. As a friend says, always reach first for the obvious answer in a puzzle. If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.
In this case, think incompetence, not clever strategy. Obama sent an ambassador to Egypt to tell Hosni Mubarak to begin a smooth exit transition. When the ambassador, Frank Wisner, later said something similar in public, the White House rebuked him. It seems Obama, without telling Wisner or Clinton, had changed the policy and wanted Mubarak out.
Power is centralized in Obama's office or, more accurately, in Obama. For all his talk about partnership, he's big on unilateral action, as long as he's the unit. Sources tell me that on matters ranging from the economy to the Mideast, Obama doesn't listen to anyone.
"He has his own worldview," one Dem said. Another said, "He's very stubborn."
Those are not compliments. And as Libya shows, neither are they virtues.
Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor. To continue reading his column on deficits and other topics, click here.
Michael Goodwin is a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist.