Japan is still reeling from the effects of a monster earthquake, a giant tsunami and the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant; over the weekend, America attacked Libya, firing cruise missiles at the armed forces of strongman Moammar Khadafy. And where was the president?
Why, in Rio, of course, with his wife, two children, their godmother and his mother-in-law in tow, to take in the sights and deliver -- what else? -- a speech.
Having filled out his March Madness brackets on ESPN and, on the way back to the White House from a St. Patrick's Day lunch at the Capitol, signed the condolence book at the Japanese Embassy ("My heart goes out to the people of Japan during this enormous tragedy"), it was time for spring break.
The comic-opera presidency of Barack Obama continues apace. Alas, it's no laughing matter.
The double standard for assessing presidents may be old news, but this is a new low. Had this been George Bush -- just finishing his 61st round of golf; enmeshed in not one, not two, but three wars in Muslim countries, and clearly more comfortable being the nation's toastmaster general than the commander in chief -- the media would be howling for his head.
Yet Obama continues to receive the kind of fawning press coverage that only kings and potentates enjoy.
"President Barack Obama played grand tourist to Rio de Janeiro's vivid extremes on Sunday, traveling from brilliant beaches to a notorious slum even as he monitored US military strikes in faraway Libya," read an AP dispatch, which went on to describe how Obama played soccer with some slum kids before getting down to the real purpose of his visit -- encouraging the Brazilian oil industry, so we can buy oil from them.
Not drill for our own oil, in the Gulf or in Alaska. Not extract it, via a method called "fracking" from the Bakken shale fields in the upper Midwest, which hold an estimated 3.65 billion barrels of oil -- one of the reasons the economy of North Dakota is booming while the rest of the country continues to suffer.
Obama's partisans often praise what they call his "restraint" and "caution," especially when dealing with foreign affairs. But one man's caution is another man's passivity and inaction, especially when the political calculus of making the wrong decision is factored in.
Having stamped his foot weeks ago and demanded that Khadafy step down, Obama did absolutely nothing to back up his ultimatum, instead waiting for a UN resolution authorizing air strikes and then piggybacking on the British and the French. (Continues here)