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Where is America’s Leader?

Caricature of Steve

Last year I posted the following commentary saying that President Obama still had time to revive his presidency.  Today I’m less sanguine about White House leadership until January 2017.

Mr. Obama needs to be more decisive and adamant in pushing his most cherished proposals at home and responding to challenges that require American resolve abroad. If he has an overarching strategy for his domestic and foreign agenda, he’s had six years to develop and pursue it. But to date he has failed to articulate a view of where he wants to take this country.

Vladimir Putin is thumbing his nose at us and ISIS is tightening its grip in large swaths across the Middle East with total disregard to any possible pushback by the U.S.

NATO and European leaders bear much responsibility for the inaction of the international community.  But their reluctance reflects the customary posture of expecting US initiative.

Only UK Prime Minister David Cameron is talking like past American presidents. Does his bellicose bravado signal that London instead of Washington is prepared to lead a major European coalition to block Russia or to attack ISIS beyond British borders?

Perhaps he’s urging Mr. Obama to man up so others can follow.

This is an awkward moment for America.  The public is war-weary from too many years in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet angered in the absence of a strong United States response to Russia’s encroachment in Ukraine and the barbarity of ISIS in the Mideast.

In an ideal world, President Obama would be able to push his domestic agenda in the last three years in office.  And his goal to “pivot” foreign policy attention toward Asia reflects a vision of America’s new place in the world and our changing global priorities.  Yet his tepid response to recent domestic and international events makes him appear disinterested at best and weak and uncertain at worst.

If the president has a vision, let’s see it clearly. If he has firm position vis-à-vis Russian aggression, let him speak forcefully. If he is prepared to confront the threat of ISIS, tell us.

America is looking for leadership. Where is it?

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