Imagine this: The president of the United States is George W. Bush.
At his re-election celebration at his party’s national convention, his enthusiastic supporters flood the floor with placards touting his killing of Usama Bin Laden. His vice president makes that and foreign policy the focal point of his pitch for re-electing the president. In the president’s own re-election speech, on September 6, he makes fun of his opponent’s lack of foreign-policy experience, while boasting about his alleged successes in the Middle East, from Egypt and Libya to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Three days later, Israel and Iran heat up. And yet, the president has reportedly refused a request to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
All of this as the eleventh anniversary of September 11, 2001 approaches.
Then, the kicker: the Middle East explodes on September 11. It starts at the US embassy in Cairo, with scenes looking eerily like a replay outside the U.S. embassy in Tehran 33 years ago under Jimmy Carter. Mere hours later in Libya, we learn of the murder of the first US ambassador killed since the Carter years. By the end of the 9/11 week, the Middle East is engulfed in chaos, with protests against America in over 20 countries, including Iraq, and with Afghanistan suddenly witnessing a surge in violence against U.S. troops, some of whom are killed.
In a remarkable display that makes those anti-Usama signs at the convention look haughty and overconfident, Middle East demonstrators hoist pro-Usama signs and chant “Obama, we are all Usama!”
It gets worse. The American public learns a truly amazing fact of presidential incompetence: the president didn’t attend a single daily intelligence briefing in the days up to the anniversary of 9/11. Worse, he has attended a minority of daily briefings (44% of them) since becoming president. While skipping intelligence briefings, the president campaigns and meets with TV personalities and celebrities. This from a man who in his re-election speech at the convention mocked his opponent’s foreign-policy credentials.
But there’s more.
In one of his campaign interviews amid the Middle East chaos, the president states that Egypt is not a U.S. ally, prompting a public correction by no less than Jimmy Carter. Even worse, the president and his administration seem unwilling to call the Middle East attacks premeditated or even terrorism, and want to blame an anti-Mohammed video for the whole sorry thing.
On the Sunday talk shows, the president’s UN ambassador claims the action in Libya was “not a premeditated” attack. Among other claims and counter-claims, she is immediately repudiated by the Libyan president, who states categorically that there is “no doubt that this was pre-planned, determined.” And CNN reports—on top of earlier reports, most notably from the London Independent—that U.S. diplomats in Libya had been warned about the rapidly deteriorating situation three days before it occurred.
The president, bear in mind, did not attend a single daily intelligence briefing during that period.
And now, the international media braces for the news that “An armada of U.S. and British naval power is massing in the Persian Gulf in the belief that Israel is considering a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.” This comes just days after the president had reportedly rejected an Israeli request to meet with Netanyahu.
This, as everyone knows, is just a short list of what has happened over the last week-and-a-half. And still, the president keeps campaigning and talking to celebrities.
Can you imagine how the media would react if the president we’re talking about here was George W. Bush?
Now imagine that the president is Barack Obama, and all of this is real—which it is.
Where are the New York Times’ editorials? Where are the 24/7 calls for the president’s head by CBS, CNN, and NPR? Why isn’t the White House press corps demanding explanations?
Never have I witnessed the media attack a president as it did George W. Bush and protect a president as it has Barack Obama. This is extraordinary.
Mitt Romney may not be the conservative ideal, but surely he would be an improvement over this. At the very least, he wouldn’t be skipping intelligence briefings to campaign and play with celebrities. The media wouldn’t let him.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His latest book is 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative. His other books include, "The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mentor" (Mercury Ink (July 17, 2012). He is a biographer of Ronald Reagan whose books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism."