Presidential Thin Skin

President Obama appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Thursday. This is an inappropriate venue for the commander-in-chief of the United States, and never  has a previous president seen fit to appear on such a program. This is pure crass, not class but probably is a trend for Obama because he is a narcissist, the worst we have seen since Bill Clinton. He loves seeing himself in the media, and hearing himself talk.


And this points up yet another of the differences in the way that administrations conduct themselves, with Obama taking his behavior to an extreme, just as Clinton did. While Ronald Reagan had so much respect for the presidency that he never appeared in the Oval Office in anything but a full suit and tie, Clinton saw fit to initiate sex with Monica Lewinsky in that same venerated space.


Ahead of Obama’s Leno appearance, his people should have been aware that Obama is gaffe-prone, and he did not disappoint. His comment about the Special Olympics would have had a Republican impeached.


He is overexposing himself early in his administration. And the appearance’s most telling moment came when Leno said that using the tax code against individuals, as in the AIG bonus case, was “frightening”.  Obama refused to repudiate the tactic. Which is truly frightening.


The Leno appearance goes back to a conflict between the Obama style and the style of the Bush administration. And a recent interview by CNN’s John King with former vice president Dick Cheney offered this insight into that difference:


KING: I’d like to just simply ask you, yes or no, by taking those steps (referring to Obama’s plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility for terror suspects, to define waterboarding as torture, to close certain “black” sites where terrorists are held, to restrict interrogations to Army Field Manual guidelines) do you believe the president of the United States has made Americans less safe?


CHENEY: I do. I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11. I think that’s a great success story. It was done legally. It was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles. President Obama campaigned against it all across the country. And now he is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack.


KING: That’s a pretty serious thing to say about the president of the United States… (end of interview segment)


Notice that Cheney was bold enough not to skirt the question, but mannered enough to say “raise the risk” and not something more provocative. Because Cheney is right. Obama indeed is raising the risk. In fact attorney general Eric Holder recently said that some Guantanamo detainees may end up being released in the US(!)


Unable to tolerate criticism, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said of Cheney’s comments: “I guess Rush Limbaugh was busy, so they trotted out the next most popular member of the Republican cabal.”


This is a schoolyard tactic of calling names and demeaning the political opposition, which should be beneath the White House. But not this White House.


A  Huffington Post reporter said about the  Gibbs comment:


Gibbs’ comments were of such obvious biting tone that a follow-up questioner Monday, CBS’ Chip Reid, wondered whether the administration was trouncing on traditional formalities when discussing past White House occupants (of course, Cheney took the first step.)”


Actually Cheney did not take the first step. John King asked a question and Cheney answered it honestly because Cheney indeed is concerned about our national security. King knew exactly what he was doing. Yet these are the same media and political liberals who were silent when Clinton and Jimmy Carter repeatedly bashed George Bush in front of overseas audiences, violating all the unwritten rules of presidential decorum in commenting on a successor, particularly in foreign venues and unprovoked.


So the White House reacts with insults for Cheney. The very word “cabal” is suggestive of something devious. This all is part and parcel of a White House behavior that shows a thin skin that will not survive the next four years. Already the public is becoming disenchanted with Obama with his poll numbers well below those of both Bush and Clinton at a comparable period. Is this perhaps why he took to The Tonight Show? Is he feeling the heat and going with the thing that makes him look best – softball interviews on late-night TV?


In short, Obama is trying to remake himself in campaign mode. Talk, talk, talk.


Later in the King interview, Cheney pointed out the Clinton-era lapses that led to 9/11, something the media will not talk about:


CHENEY: Now, I think part of the difficulty here as I look at what the Obama administration is doing, we made a decision after 9/11 that I think was crucial. We said this is a war. It’s not a law enforcement problem. Up until 9/11 (i.e., the Clinton years), it was treated as a law enforcement problem. You go find the bad guy, put him on trial, put him in jail. The FBI would go to Oklahoma City and find the identification tag off the truck and go find the guy that rented the truck and put him in jail.


Once you go into a wartime situation and it’s a strategic threat, then you use all of your assets to go after the enemy. You go after the state sponsors of terror, places where they’ve got sanctuary. You use your intelligence resources, your military resources, your financial resources, everything you can in order to shut down that terrorist threat against you.


When you go back to the law enforcement mode, which I sense is what they’re doing, closing Guantanamo and so forth, that they are very much giving up that center of attention and focus that’s required, and that concept of military threat that is essential if you’re going to successfully defend the nation against further attacks. (end of Cheney comment).


Cheney is spot on. That is how Clinton led us to 9/11 – by ignoring the 1990s warning signs like young Middle Eastern males infiltrating into the US, overstaying their visas, obtaining driver’s licenses, taking flying lessons, acting suspiciously, communicating through the internet, receiving money transfers from overseas, taking reconnaissance flights on commercial airlines etc. Clinton neglected to “connect the dots”. Or even to notice that there were dots.


Now Obama is going down the wrong path in every way, from his public demeanor to his policies. During the election campaign, Obama operatives in Missouri and Ohio even threatened to investigate people who criticized Obama. These are police-state tactics.


In response to a campaign ad comparing Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, Obama himself said “What they’re going to do is make you scared – of me.” He went on to say that the ad and other McCain messages were intended to make Americans believe that Obama “is not patriotic enough. He’s got a funny name. He doesn’t look like the presidents on the dollar bills.”


Such thin skin, unable to take criticism without lashing back and acting like a victim.


Hey Obama, you’re in the big leagues now. Act like it.


Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can print out for free my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.