Can't This Guy Do Anything Right?

Someone, please, tell me again how smart Barack Obama is. Because I’ve lost sight of any proof of that statement.

First up, while the BP oil spill continues unchecked, he announces that he’s going to take a break from keeping his boot on their neck to enjoy a little vacation time back in sweet home Chicago. On Memorial Day. Leaving the traditional laying of a wreath at the Tomb Of The Unknowns to Sheriff Joe.

Now, Barack Obama has no place at Arlington Cemetery. He never served in the military, has never shown any particular respect or reverence for the military, and spent way, way too much time palling around with someone who actively plotted to kill members of the military.

But the President of the United States… that’s another story. It’s become a tradition for the Commander In Chief, on that solemn day, to pay his respects to those who have fallen in our nation’s service. It’s a subtle reinforcement of the fact that our military is subject to civilian command, as well as the duly elected representative of the American people to show that loyalty, honor, and respect are a two-way street.

Media Matters, in defending Obama’s decision to blow off this, cites two examples from the last 30-odd years when presidents didn’t attend. (It’s occasionally fun to use the “other side” as a source, and I’m perfectly content to let those tools do the rope-weaving before I hang them with it.) In 1983, President Reagan was attending an economic summit, so he sent a Deputy Secretary of Defense in his stead.

What they don’t mention was that the Deputy in question was a distinguished World War II veteran, Navy ace, and former test pilot who, coincidentally enough, died barely two weeks ago. So, in that case, I think Reagan found a suitable proxy.

((On the other hand, in 1985 he pleaded guilty to participating in an insider-trading scheme where he didn’t personally profit, but helped others, so he wasn’t exactly a sterling character, but that wasn’t known at the time he stood in for Reagan. But I digress.))

The other example was President George H. W. Bush in 1992, who — like Obama — took a family vacation and sent his vice-president, Dan Quayle, in his stead. But unlike Biden, Quayle had a military background — an entirely undistinguished stint in the Illinois National Guard. And Bush himself was, like Reagan’s proxy, a distinguished Navy pilot from World War II.

Another time Media Matters managed to overlook was in 2002, when George W. Bush skipped it. At the time, he was in Europe, and he paid his respects at Normandy.

Meanwhile, Obama is showing just how serious he’s taking Arizona’s concern about its southern border. After years of yelling, pleading, and begging, they’re finally getting some National Guard support along the southern border. Obama finally heard them.

But apparently not too clearly. He’s sending a grand total of 1,200 Guard members to cover the entire border, four states’ worth. And he didn’t bother to notify the states’ members of Congress about it in advance.

VAN SUSTEREN: …You and Senator Kyl have been writing the president on multiple occasions and for quite some time. Did the president actually respond to you and say, Senator McCain, I can’t give you 6,000, but I can give you 1,200, or did you just learn about this in the press?

MCCAIN: We learned about it in the press. And the interesting thing was that at the luncheon that the president came to with Republican senators, the issue came up and I discussed it with the president, including the fact that we had to secure the borders first, otherwise, we would be faced with a continuous problem of illegal immigrants. And Jon Kyl mentioned the supplemental and that we needed additional troops, and the president didn’t say anything then. And a half hour afterwards, there was a statement or a press release from the administration saying they had 1,200 — they were sending 1,200 additional. So — and at the same time, I had an amendment on the floor, which we’ll be voting on tomorrow, to fund 6,000 additional troops. Interesting — all these are interesting coincidences.

I can’t even find any accounts of whether he notified their governors first.

In both cases, while not strictly legally mandated, it’s considered a common courtesy to notify the political leaders of a state before you send in the troops. Back during Hurricane Katrina, President Bush went to great pains to keep the governors of the afflicted states — even the astonishingly incompetent Democratic governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco — in the loop as much as possible.

My own theory is that since three of the four states have Republican governors (California’s Schwarzenegger, Arizona’s Brewer, and Texas’ Perry), politics probably played a part. New Mexico’s Bill Richardson might have gotten a tip-off, but there’s an old saw: “never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.” Considering how inept this administration has proven thus far, I’ll grant them the benefit of the doubt and guess they only thought of Brewer and Perry, and said “screw ’em.” They simply didn’t think about it enough to realize the full implications of the deployment.

The biggest problem Obama seems to have is that the guy just won’t listen when others try to tell him he’s making a mistake. Worse, he’s surrounded himself with tons of people who won’t even try to tell him.

Remember that Obama attended Harvard Law School? There’s an old saying that comes to mind: “You can always tell a Harvard man, but you can’t tell him much.”

Because they already know it all. Just ask them.

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