Oliver North

That's a striking, provocative observation about Barack Obama from a self-professed former supporter. Whether the president's sudden appearance in the White House pressroom was really "impromptu," "unplanned" and "spontaneous," as administration officials claim, or part of a strategic public relations plan gone awry is irrelevant. Either way, Wednesday's surreal birth certificate announcement is evidence of extraordinary self-infatuation.

In his remarks, Obama asserted: "I've got better stuff to do. We've got big problems to solve." Yet there is little indication that this president is deeply preoccupied with issues that ought to warrant his full attention.

Less than 12 hours before he "popped in" to remind the press corps about his birthplace, nine Americans were killed in Afghanistan. Scores of rebels and refugees were butchered in Misrata, Libya, by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. In Syria, Bashar Assad's army unleashed a series of vicious assaults on unarmed protesters, making a mockery of Obama's "responsibility to protect civilians" foreign policy. In that same time frame, devastating tornadoes touched down in major American cities -- destroying homes, office buildings and schools while killing hundreds of our countrymen -- and gasoline prices hit a new high. Yet none of this warranted even a brief utterance from the president.

Supporters cite Obama's "dispassionate detachment" and his "coolness in crisis" as attributes to explain his apparent indifference to unforeseen, unexpected and unpleasant events. In 2010, when he all but ignored the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, his inaction was depicted as "taking time to consider all possible options." As events spiraled out of control in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and then Libya, it was suggested that he was "working behind the scenes to build consensus." His failure to speak out promptly about the catastrophic earthquake/tsunami that devastated Japan was explained as "stoic compassion."

Perhaps. But Wednesday's very strange birth certificate appearance suggests a far less charitable explanation for what's been happening in the Obama White House: a lengthy, ongoing session of self-absorbed navel gazing. If that's the case, America's adversaries in Tripoli, Tehran, Damascus, Beijing, Pyongyang and Caracas must have chortled when the president of the United States took time to explain to the world where and when he was born. Meanwhile, here in Pittsburgh, several hundred thousand Americans are convinced POTUS has his priorities all wrong.

Oliver North

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.