WASHINGTON -- Try this for a timeline of recent events that affect Americans, and see whether you can determine whether the leader of the Free World suffers from presidential attention-deficit disorder:
Wednesday, March 9: The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Lejeune, N.C., is alerted to deploy with all possible haste for the Mediterranean Sea and be prepared for military and humanitarian contingency operations off the coast of Libya. That night, President Barack Obama hosted a "TV party" at the White House to watch a basketball game: the Chicago Bulls vs. the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bulls won.
Thursday, March 10: Forces loyal to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi recapture the city of Zawiyah from rebels. French President Nicolas Sarkozy formally recognizes the provisional "National Council" as the legitimate government of Libya and urges other governments to send aid to the rebels. Rather than focus on these events, Obama convened the "White House Conference on Bullying Prevention."
Friday, March 11: Shortly after midnight Eastern time, one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, magnitude 8.9, triggers a devastating tsunami, destroying whole cities on Japan's eastern coast. POTUS' first public remarks on "the potentially catastrophic disaster" occur at 12:35 p.m. at a previously scheduled news conference on energy policy. At 2:50 p.m., he hosted the 2010 Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. Nobody mentioned the tragedy in Japan.
Saturday, March 12: European Union leaders resolve that Gadhafi "surrender power and leave Libya immediately." An Israeli family of five -- including three children -- is brutally murdered in Itamar by Palestinian terrorists. In Bahrain, headquarters of the U.S. 5th Fleet, Shiite protesters demand the ouster of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and police kill a half-dozen anti-government protesters in Sanaa, Yemen's capital. That afternoon, Obama played golf before headlining the annual Gridiron Club dinner with Washington's elite. His prepared remarks, delivered from a podium-mounted teleprompter, were deemed "devastatingly funny and humorously self-deprecating." He barely mentioned any of the events occurring around the world -- or his golf score.
Sunday, March 13: Violence and casualties in Bahrain and Yemen escalate, and Libyan rebels are driven out of Ras Lanouf amid calls from the Arab League for a no-fly zone. U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine units, experts from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and civil disaster teams deployed to assist earthquake/tsunami victims arrive in Japan after an explosion at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power complex. White House press secretary Jay Carney provides two written statements summarizing U.S. relief efforts and another five-line release that "strongly condemns the violence" in Yemen and Bahrain while urging "restraint." Obama had no public events posted on his official White House site, but he did have an opinion column posted in Tucson's Arizona Daily Star, calling for new "gun-control enforcement measures."
Monday, March 14: Saudi Arabia dispatches U.S.-trained and -equipped special operations units to Bahrain without consulting with or informing Washington. In northern Japan, a second nuclear reactor explosion injures 11. Obama began his day at 10:20 that morning with a visit to a public school in Virginia, where he spoke about "reforming education." He later met with Denmark's prime minister and then with the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus. That evening, he attended a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.
Tuesday, March 15: Pro-Gadhafi forces capture Ajdabiya and Brega in the east and move toward the rebel stronghold at Benghazi. Bahrain declares martial law, and Oman places security forces on alert to deal with anti-government protests. In Japan, the nuclear safety alert goes from level 4 to 6 on a 7-point scale. Obama spent part of his morning taping segments for ESPN on the upcoming NCAA basketball tournaments. While the U.S. House of Representatives was voting to fund the U.S. government for another three weeks, the president found time for media interviews on education reform and meetings and a dinner with U.S. military commanders.
Wednesday, March 16: Anti-regime rebels, pounded by Gadhafi's air force and artillery, begin retreating toward Egypt. Increasingly violent protests rock Bahrain and Yemen. A third explosion and fire at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant threatens rescue workers. Rumors of spreading contamination prompt some Americans to start buying potassium iodide to prevent radiation poisoning. Asked about these fears, Dr. Regina Benjamin, the O-Team's surgeon general, said, "We can't be over-prepared." A subsequent "clarification" stated that "she wouldn't recommend that anyone go out and purchase" it now. That afternoon, as the U.S. stock market plunged, the president made time for brief meetings with the USAID administrator, met with his "senior advisers," canceled plans to receive an award for "government transparency" and headed off to yet another DNC event.
Thursday, March 17: U.S. citizens are warned to evacuate Japan. As Gadhafi's forces prepare to assault the remaining rebel strongholds in Libya, the U.N. Security Council debates what to do. Before celebrating St. Patrick's Day at the White House, O'Bama visited the Japanese Embassy, had our U.N. ambassador announce we may have to "go beyond a no-fly zone" in Libya, and told the world he is part Irish.
All of these tough decisions on Libya, the Middle East, the disaster in Japan, a teetering U.S. economy, the lack of a federal budget, basketball games, golf outings and DNC fundraisers are taking a toll on our chief executive. So it's only fair he should take a taxpayer-funded spring break in Rio de Janeiro.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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