August 12, 2008

THE REALITY OF THOSE THREE A.M. MOMENTS...: that the president isn't even likely to be conversant with the situation that erupts, nor should he necessarily be. That's why he has staff. (Think Reagan could find Grenada on a map at 2:59 on the day he decided to liberate it?)

A junior congressman has even less reason to be familiar with such matters, so Senator Obama certainly shouldn't have been expected to have any instantly coherent views about Georgia v. Russia. However, a president's or a candidate's aides shouldn't let him go out at 3pm and still look like he has no idea what the situation entails. Whoever was responsible for Senator Obama making this statement served him poorly. Better for him to have stayed at the beach.

Obama without his script: Judging by his reaction to the Georgia-Russia crisis, Obama's make-believe presidency isn't ready for prime time. (Jonah Goldberg, August 12, 2008, LA Times)

Obama's response?

First, late Thursday evening, he gave a conventional written statement calling for calm, U.N. action and "restraint" from both sides -- followed an hour later by a slightly stronger condemnation of Russian aggression and a call for a cease-fire.

The invasion of Georgia elicited a wan written communique instead of the sort of exciting rhetoric we've come to expect from his make-believe presidency. But he did make it in front of the cameras the next day for a rally celebrating his vacation in Hawaii. He promised "to go body surfing at some undisclosed location."

During Obama's make-believe presidency, we've heard about bold action, about the courage to talk to dictators. When faced with a real "3 a.m. moment," Obama -- who boasts about 200 foreign policy advisors, broken into 10 subgroups -- proclaims, "I'm going to get some shave ice."

Now, of course, this is a bit unfair in that Obama had planned his no doubt well-deserved vacation for a very long time. But presidential vacations are always well planned -- and often interrupted.

Indeed, President Bush's jaunt to the Olympics as a "sports fan" should also have been cut short the moment tanks started rolling over a country he'd proclaimed a "beacon of liberty" during his visit there in 2005. By Monday, both Bush and Obama were playing catch-up to Sen. John McCain, who seemed to have grasped the gravity from the get-go and whose support for Georgia is long-standing. He took the lead from the outset, demanding on Friday morning an emergency meeting of NATO and Western aid to the fledgling democracy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 12, 2008 6:28 AM
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