President Obama has degraded the office of the presidency - once again. Coming under increasing criticism for his inept handling of the BP oil spill, Mr. Obama is resorting to being vulgar in the hope of appearing tough to the American public.
In a recent interview on NBC’s “Today Show,” Mr. Obama responded to critics who charge that his reaction to the spill should be more engaged and forceful.
“I was down there a month ago, before most of these talking heads were even paying attention to the Gulf,” the president said. “And I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar; we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”
Really? Mr. Obama should be ashamed of himself. Presidents historically have used salty, even profane language in private discussions - Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman and Richard Nixon being the most notable. Yet in public statements, they understood the need to represent the dignity and decorum of the Oval Office. Every president has - until Mr. Obama.
The presidency is not just the highest office in the land; it embodies the collective will of America’s democracy. Mr. Obama occupies a sacred and noble position entrusted by the American people. His comments convey utter contempt for the office he occupies. This is street-gangster language more befitting a community organizer in the South Side of Chicago than the leader of the Free World. It is political posturing masquerading as decisive leadership.
For weeks, Mr. Obama has been under growing pressure from his leftist allies to unleash his inner demagogue regarding the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. They want him to show more empathy, passion and outrage. They want him to express more solidarity with the fishermen, small-business owners and wildlife in the region. Instead, the president has been aloof and disengaged - cold in the face of the worst environmental disaster in American history.
Like a leaking boat, even many of his most die-hard supporters are turning on him. Maureen Dowd, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow - these leftists are coming to realize, to their horror, that Mr. Obama is incompetent. Their political messiah is turning out to be an imposter. Rather than leading America to the liberal promised land, he is crashing upon the rocks of reality.
Mr. Obama’s seminal flaw is that he lacks any executive experience. He is unable to govern effectively because he has never had to do so. He has never run a business, a town or a state. In fact, he has never run a lemonade stand. His entire adult life has been spent in the bureaucratic class - as a community organizer, radical professor or politician. He has been part of the nonproductive segments of society, the parasitical elements living off the wealth of the private sector.
Immersed in multicultural socialism and virulent anti-Americanism, he despises his country - its free-market system, its Judeo-Christian heritage, its historical exceptionalism - to its very core. He knows how to lecture, scold and apologize. In other words, he knows how to talk, but not how to govern.
Mr. Obama may like to portray himself as the “ass-kicker” president, but the only “ass” that’s being kicked is his. The Gulf disaster has become Mr. Obama’s Katrina - a crystallizing moment revealing the impotence and weakness of the president in the face of an economic and ecological catastrophe. The black sludge is seeping not only on Louisiana’s shorelines but across Mr. Obama’s presidency, tarring his credibility and smothering his approval numbers. If he cannot plug an oil leak, how can he confront the Persian Nazi dictator of Iran, pull America out of its Great Recession or run one-sixth of its economy through nationalized health care?
Mr. Obama has sought to politicize the BP oil spill from the very beginning, blaming everyone except himself. He has demanded that BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward be fired. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar bragged about how the Obama administration would “keep its boot upon the neck” of BP. Mr. Obama has called for a criminal probe of BP’s actions - even though there is no evidence, not even a scintilla, that the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig was anything other than an accident. He has imposed a moratorium on deep-water oil drilling in the Gulf that has only further damaged the local economy. He has canceled drilling projects on the East Coast and northern Alaska.
His actions will drive up the cost of domestic oil production, lead to the loss of thousands of jobs at home and increase our reliance upon foreign oil - guaranteeing that more U.S. dollars will go toward propping up anti-American, anti-Western petro-states such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and Venezuela. In short, Mr. Obama has done everything but contain the spill.
It is ironic that an environmental issue - supposedly the area in which the left excels - is starkly exposing Mr. Obama’s incompetence. Rather than pointing fingers incessantly at his predecessor, demonizing the Republicans and degrading the office with foul language, Mr. Obama ought to rise to the occasion and provide bold leadership. His failure to do so has revealed that his usual soaring rhetoric is little more than the imaginative rantings of an adolescent.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington think tank. He is the daily host of the “Kuhner Show” on WTNT 570-AM from 5 to 7 p.m.