Donald Lambro

Gaddafi and his thugs may be breathing a sigh of relief after hearing that. With the U.S. flying at least 70 percent of the missions to enforce the "no-fly zone" and to attack Gaddafi's advancing forces, it is unclear how much of that firepower will be maintained by NATO's remaining forces.

Throughout all of this, the White House has played a very clever waiting game here at home amidst a chorus of growing questions from Congress, the news media and the public.

"In the context of American military campaigns, the timing of Obama's speech was unusual, coming more than a week after the United States began missile strikes in Libya," the Post said Tuesday.

Notably, he waited until the rebels had taken a number of coastal towns, with the help of U.S. attacks that sent Gaddafi's forces fleeing from the battlefield. So his actions appear successful -- at least for now.

At the same time, Obama chose to deliver his address, not from the Oval Office, but at the nearby National Defense University, a stage-and-podium audience venue that seemed to lessen the gravity of the actions he had undertaken. His well-crafted speech managed to thread the political needle at a time when his job-approval polls are running in the mid-40s and his re-election prospects are far from a sure thing.

He said he took tough, bold action to protect civilians from what would have been a blood bath. It was limited in nature and had a built-in exit strategy, and now our military forces are pulling out of the war zone.

In one bold stroke, he appeared to have swept an issue off the table that would have been used against him in the coming election. But there are many more battles to come in the Libyan revolution for freedom from a bloody tyrant and a repressive regime that may raise the haunting question; did we pull out prematurely?

Meantime, Obama knows that whatever happens, Libya is not on the top 10 list of issues Americans are most concerned about -- not when half the states have severe unemployment rates of more than 9 percent. Nearly a dozen have jobless rates of between 10 and 14 percent.

While Obama has been playing commander in chief, Americans want to know what he's been doing here at home to create jobs.

The answer is, not much.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.