NRO – Mark Steyn: The Unengaged President

Only the other day, Sen. George Lemieux of Florida attempted to rouse the president to jump-start America’s overpaid, over-manned, and oversleeping federal bureaucracy and get it to do something on the oil debacle. There are 2,000 oil skimmers in the United States: Weeks after the spill, only 20 of them are off the coast of Florida. Seventeen friendly nations with great expertise in the field have offered their own skimmers; the Dutch volunteered their “super-skimmers”: Obama turned them all down. Raising the problem, Senator Lemieux found the president unengaged and uninformed. “He doesn’t seem to know the situation about foreign skimmers and domestic skimmers,” reported the senator.

…Really? I mean, really?

“It can seem that at the heart of Barack Obama’s foreign policy is no heart at all,” wrote Richard Cohen in the Washington Post last week. “For instance, it’s not clear that Obama is appalled by China’s appalling human rights record. He seems hardly stirred about continued repression in Russia. . . . The president seems to stand foursquare for nothing much.

“This, of course, is the Obama enigma: Who is this guy? What are his core beliefs?”

Gee, if only your newspaper had thought to ask those fascinating questions oh, say, a month before the Iowa caucuses.

Hah! Last one:

“The ugly truth,” wrote Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, “is that no one in the Obama White House wanted this Afghan surge. The only reason they proceeded was because no one knew how to get out of it.”

Well, that’s certainly ugly, but is it the truth? Afghanistan, you’ll recall, was supposed to be the Democrats’ war, the one they supported, the one the neocons’ Iraq adventure was an unnecessary distraction from. Granted the Dems’ usual shell game — to avoid looking soft on national security, it helps to be in favor of some war other than the one you’re opposing — Candidate Obama was an especially ripe promoter. In one of the livelier moments of his campaign, he chugged down half a bottle of Geopolitical Viagra and claimed he was hot for invading Pakistan.

Then he found himself in the Oval Office, and the dime-store opportunism was no longer helpful. But, as Friedman puts it, “no one knew how to get out of it.” The “pragmatist” settled for “nuance”: He announced a semi-surge plus a date for withdrawal of troops to begin. It’s not “victory,” it’s not “defeat,” but rather a more sophisticated mélange of these two outmoded absolutes: If you need a word, “quagmire” would seem to cover it.

Good lord, what a disaster.

Anyway, thank God for weekly columns. Better yet, thank God I don’t have to watch all this on cable, in real time.