Consider it a pattern — President Obama speaking to a friendly crowd, papering over his failures of leadership while patting himself on the back for a job well done.
He did that today in Toledo, Ohio, where he touted his auto industry bailout to United Auto Workers at a Chrysler plant, without directly addressing the morning’s news that unemployment went up to 9.1 percent in May as the economy hit a near standstill. Obama’s explanation about the slow-mo economy? “There are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery. We’re going to pass through some rough terrain that even a Wrangler would have a hard time with.” How’s that for leadership in tough times?
Last week saw the same story, different country, as Heritage’s Nile Gardiner explains in the Washington Times. President Obama took his road show to Europe where “he was feted by large crowds and fawned over by European political elites” even though his policies haven’t served U.S. allies.
Even in London, he was given a hugely warm welcome. Despite an embarrassing track record of insulting America’s closest friend and ally, he was rewarded with a state visit and the honor of an address to Parliament.
Despite all the fanfare, Barack Obama still doesn’t come across as an American leader of weight, principle or conviction. His flagship speech in Westminster Hall was full of soaring rhetoric and forced platitudes about the importance of the Anglo-American alliance, but was ultimately empty when it came to policy. There was no clear vision for U.S. leadership in the Middle East, including the war in Libya, the crisis in Syria and the growing Iranian nuclear threat. On Afghanistan, where more than 100,000 U.S. troops are fighting the Taliban, there was only talk of an endgame, and no sense of striving for victory.
President Obama didn’t take questions in Toledo (and refused an AP reporter’s questions about today’s unemployment numbers), but he did take questions last week at Downing Street in London, where Gardiner explains how the Commander in Chief handled (or mishandled) the media:
Without the presence of his beloved teleprompter, Mr. Obama was left floundering in the face of straightforward questions from the American and British press. When asked about the budget deficit, the president delivered an embarrassingly muddled response that hardly exuded confidence. On Libya he was even worse, forcing Mr. Cameron to explain America’s role in the campaign to oust Col. Moammar Gadhafi. What the White House appropriately calls “leading from behind” was amply on display in London last week for all to see.
Gardiner says that the President’s European tour “underscores how little depth there is to Mr. Obama’s world leadership at a time of mounting global threats and economic turmoil.” The same can be said of his speech today in Toledo — amid a floundering economy, the President offered little but self-congratulatory accolades while ignoring reality. He’s AWOL on world leadership, and he’s AWOL at home, too.