I never thought I would find myself wistfully remembering President Clinton and wishing he were still around to inject some heart into the Oval Office (I know, I know, he may have injected some other things as well). However, after listening to President Obama's passionless words in poignant moments over the past ten months, I now yearn to hear the oratory of President Clinton. After Obama's reactions and comments to the Islamic massacre at Ft. Hood, I could only remember the good old days when our president inspired us and spoke passionately after a tragedy like the Oklahoma City bombing. At least when President Clinton spoke, you knew he cared about the people he addressed.
Obama's poor crisis leadership skills revealed themselves in June when Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad murdered Private William Long outside a military recruiting center in Little Rock. Two full days passed without even a word from the president. Finally, President Obama issued a terse statement of “sadness” and never mentioned the incident again. Quite a contrast to his swift, strongly worded response and his statement of “shock” and “outrage” at the “heinous” murder of abortion doctor, George Tiller, just days before in Wichita, Kansas.
In August, at the funeral for Sen. Ted Kennedy, again President Obama's coldness and aloofness raised red flags. Others, like Peggy Noonan, have also noted Obama's cold distance as he arrived, nodded, shook hands and spoke to the family and friends of the Kennedys. In watching the funeral, I was struck by how the president could simultaneously be so completely appropriate and so emotionally vacant. He was polite to be sure, but exhibited a total absence of warmth.
Last week, in his remarks via telecast, at the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, President Obama recognized no other presidents before himself and also failed to mention either Margaret Thatcher or Pope John Paul II . Worse still, he failed even to utter the words “communism,” or the “Soviet Union,” or “Russia.” A major moment arrives, the president speaks, and he whiffs entirely. He exhibits no knowledge of history, no sense of poignancy or America's contribution to the world, and no passion for the freedoms that arrived with the fall of the wall. An utterly cold and vacuous moment.
Finally, the Islamic massacre at Ft. Hood occurs, and President Obama's initial instincts are to warn us all “not to jump to conclusions.” He urges us to react in direct contrast to his own hasty reaction in Gates-gate at Cambridge, and his comments there that the police “acted stupidly.” More strikingly, Obama is unable to state the simple, obvious truth: we have had another incidence of Islamic terror on our own soil. Islamic terror does not occur in a vacuum; jumping to conclusions is very different from reading the pattern of having 63 other Muslim men charged, convicted, or sentenced on terror in our own country just in 2009. Obama again totally misses the point. His trademark coolness belies a glaring ignorance of the matter at hand and his total lack of passion for the American people.
Worse still, his remarks at the memorial service at Ft. Hood fell flat. Does anyone remember a word he said? Years later, I can still remember the warmth and grace exhibited by President Clinton in the aftermath of Oklahoma City. In contrast, Obama's presence and comments at Ft. Hood were utterly forgettable. He failed to show up emotionally in any way. Were one to listen to the president's comments regarding the terror deaths of 13 Americans on an American military base at the hands of an Islamic jihadist, one would notice no difference whatsoever in modulation, tone, or posture from any other speech he has ever given. They have all begun to sound the same. He is everywhere, speaking on everything, and thereby speaking on nothing. No one listens anymore. He speaks as if he is just passing through, a mere observer on the events of life. The hollowness is unsettling.
All in all, Obama's impassioned speeches are reserved for fund-raisers and for healthcare addresses, for which he has no shortage of energy. Line up a pile of dead Americans, and he can barely muster an inflection or an exclamation point. Fill the room with wealthy donors, and the man comes alive. For a mercenary, that may be an admirable thing, but for a president, the vacancy is disturbing.