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Normally, on this Memorial Day weekend, I would have packed up the saddlebags and tour pack of my Harley and headed to Washington for the annual Rolling Thunder ride to the wall.
But my mother’s deteriorating health eliminates overnight trips for the near term so I rode over to Bedford Monday to visit the National D-Day Memorial and then to three area cemeteries to remember childhood friends who died in Vietnam.
In Illinois, President Barack Obama scurried offstage after a thunderstorm moved in on his photo op at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. Already under fire for choosing to vacation in Chicago and skip the traditional wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery, Obama tried to salvage another public relations disaster by speaking to a hastily-arranged gathering of service men and women at Andrews Air Force Base after he jetted back to the Nation’s Capital.
But the drenching downpour in Illinois did not extinquish the fire from Obama’s decision to miss the event in Arlington where Vice President Joe Biden substituted.
Critics pounced on Obama’s decision to snub the Arlington ceremony and his decision seems strange for a President who already has a strained relationship with a military that wonders how a former neighborhood activist who never served his country in uniform wound up as Commander in Chief.
Obama is not the first non-vet to become President in recent times. Bill Clinton, perhaps the most famous draft-dodger in history, holds that honor. George W. Bush avoided service in Vietnam by using his father’s political connections to land a coveted spot in the Texas Air National Guard and then skipped most of his required duties. Ironically, Bush would become the President who sent more reserve and national guard soldiers to war for more deployments than any leader in American history.
Obama partisans, as expected, defend the President’s actions by pointing out that Ronald Reagan missed three Memorial Days in Arlington, George H.W. Bush never went to a single wreath-laying during his four years in office and his son, George W., missed one while attending D-Day anniversary events in Europe.
But Obama chose to skip Arlington as the nation remains embroiled in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He dialed back the war effort in Iraq, as promised in his campaign for President, but upped the ante in Afghanistan with increased resources and an upturn in casualties. Afghanistan may become Obama’s Vietnam.
The thunderstorm that cut short the planned photo op in Illinois did more than wash out a substitute Presidential event. It added to the ever-growing list of disasters that have become the hallmark of Obama’s struggling administration — another glaring example of bad timing and poor political judgment.
As Maureen Dowd notes in The New York Times:
President Spock’s behavior is illogical.
Once more, he has willfully and inexplicably resisted fulfilling a signal part of his job: being a prism in moments of fear and pride, reflecting what Americans feel so they know he gets it.
“This president needs to tell BP, ’I’m your daddy,’ “ scolded James Carville, a New Orleans resident, as he called Barack Obama’s response to Louisiana’s new watery heartbreak “lackadaisical.”
The massive oil spill in the Gulf came on the heels of Obama’s decision to open up off-shore drilling. The economy remains stagnant despite White House claims of a rebound. More Americans remain out of work for longer periods of time than at any time in history, including the Great Depression.
The well-oiled machine that swept aside all challengers in the 2008 Presidential race has become the gang that can’t shoot straight, a gaggle of amateurs who appear unfit to govern and unable to cope.
Obama appears to be in over his head and struggling to handle the pressures of the job — something that Democratic primary opponent Hillary Clinton predicted would happen.
Dowd also notes:
He’s spending the holiday weekend in Chicago when he should be commemorating Memorial Day here with the families of troops killed in battle and with veterans at Arlington Cemetery.
Republican senators who had a contentious lunch with the president last week described him as whiny, thin-skinned and in over his head, and there was extreme Democratic angst at the White House’s dilatory and deferential attitude on the spill.
Writes Geoffrey P. Hunt on American Thinker:
Would someone remind us again why the nation elected this man to be president? A man with no resume, a man with no experience in running anything other than a political campaign, a man who is ignorant of history, economics, and technology? A man who is shallow and lazy? A man who shares neither character nor temperament with the American people in this vast republic? How did this happen?
Voters were smitten by the ideological handmaidens of identity politics and the promise of big government. The identity politics substituted a cosmetic profile for character and experience. The promise was that big government has the benevolent power and enlightened expertise to remake America from the top down into a more capable, more caring, kinder, gentler, and more respected place.
What we’ve received instead was on display at the president’s long-awaited press conference in the last week of May. Only a partisan or a fool could deny the irredeemable failure of these ideological handmaidens, the genius of Obama’s shrinking presidency. No amount of posturing, buffing up, or Q&A briefing book drills could hide the reality that this man is on a raft at sea accompanied by an equally bewildered boatload of companions who have no idea how they arrived in such deep water, hundreds of miles from land, and with no clue that they are in trouble, let alone what to do about it.
When both the left (Dowd) and right (Hunt) agree that Obama is out of his depth, the handwriting is on the wall.
The thunderstorm that sent Obama scurrying for cover on Memorial Day may be a metaphor for a failing Presidency — a washout for an administration that’s washed up.