Obama fiddles while Islamic world burns
by Melvyn L. Fein
Columnist
October 15, 2012 12:00 AM | 1445 views | 9 9 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Legend has it that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. This is not quite true. To begin with, the violin had not yet been invented in first century Rome. Second, Nero did seem to be on the job when his city went up in flames.

The part of the myth that appears to be accurate, however, is that the emperor actually conceived of himself as a great artist. He was especially proud of his singing and lyre-playing abilities. Indeed, he intentionally traveled to Greece so that he could entertain large crowds with his putative talents.

Today we have an equally star-struck chief executive. He too seems more interested in playing to adoring throngs than busying himself with the nasty details of governing. Americans once feared that Ronald Reagan would prove more actor than president, but this honor has fallen to Barack Obama.

By now the tableau is well known. The Islamic world literally erupted in flames and the president of the United States went on a Vaudeville tour. More important to him than addressing an international crisis was rubbing elbows with Hollywood stars and pandering to campaign crowds.

Obama loves the limelight. He enjoys being on stage, thrusting his chin forward in a mock-heroic pose and then wowing his devotees with a mellifluous voice projected in perfectly modulated cadences. He looks presidential; he sounds presidential; he is cheered as if he were presidential.

But it is all an act. Obama does not know how to be presidential. He has the external trappings down pat, yet he cannot do the job he was hired to perform. The evidence of what Republicans have taken to describing as a “lack of leadership” is indisputable.

Take Obama’s unwillingness to meet directly with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Iran is threatening to blow Israel off the map with atomic weapons the world says it should not have, and what does our president do? He takes a pass. Or rather he goes on “The View” to perform for his fans.

The president might also have taken the opportunity to consult with the leaders of Egypt and Libya, but no — the Letterman show took precedence. Indeed, where has Obama not performed? He even found time to go on the radio with the “Pimp with a Limp.”

This predilection is not new. Bob Woodward, in his recent book “The Price of Politics,” makes Obama’s distaste for governing all too clear. Woodward sympathizes with Obama, but time and again our president’s disengagement from the duties of his office breaks through.

Governing is hard, but it is even more difficult if you do not like to associate with elected officials. Negotiating is not easy, especially when you have no skills as a negotiator. Running a competent administration is challenging, but it is even more challenging when you cannot organize your own office.

All of these deficits came into play during the debt-ceiling crisis. Even though Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner argued that the nation was on the brink of another Great Depression, Obama did not have a Plan B when his initial position foundered. Instead, it was necessary for Congress to come to the rescue.

What then was Obama’s last-ditch stab at salvaging the situation? Why, it was to go in television to give a speech explaining that it was the Republicans’ fault. For our president, when things go wrong, it is always someone else’s fault.

And so it was with the Libyan crisis. According to Obama, our ambassador died because of a silly video trailer. This was not a failure of his diplomacy. Clearly, everyone, including foreign leaders, is enchanted with his silver-tongued speeches. The whole world loves him — and therefore us — hence he cannot be the problem.

Fortunately for Obama, the mainstream media are enthralled with his act, so they keep the bad notices away from public view. Still, no matter how inspiring his simulated presidential routines, they are no substitute for the real thing.

Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D. is a professor of Sociology at Kennesaw State University.
Comments
(9)
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B D Lane
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October 16, 2012
I enjoyed reading your column this week, Mr. Foley. You had me with the reference to antiquity. ;)
Devlin Adams
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October 15, 2012
Foley, why are you blaming Fein for something he has nothing to do with? The idiot who posted that trash is probably too stupid to find his way to the polls, regardless of what party he belongs to.

BTW, speaking of intelligent followers, have you keyed any cars or urinated on any Romney signs lately? That takes a whole heap of intelligence. lol
Kevin Foley
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October 15, 2012
See the kind of fans your thought leadership attracts, Dr. Fein? See the "Shaneequa Valasquez" post below.

You should be very proud.
frogbreath
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October 16, 2012
Come on Foley, we know that was really you!
anonymous
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October 16, 2012
I know Shaneequa and she is no Kevin Foley!
frogbreath
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October 16, 2012
@anonymous

Good one!! LOL!
Be Real
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October 15, 2012
Way to repeat a bunch of out of context fox news talking points. Genius. It comes down to this. If you like Obamacare and are pro choice, vote Obama. If you make over a million dollars a year, vote Romney. Everything else is smoke and mirrors.
anonymous
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October 15, 2012
Meanwhile, people are blindly voting for this man because of his race.

Who are the racists? I suggest you look in the early voter line, those people who won't even watch the debates, who don't care about any cover ups in Libya, who don't care about even the unemployment rate for minorities in America.

They cut off their nose to spite their face. God help us.
Shaneequa Valasquez
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October 15, 2012
You don't no what a good leader is! Obama has to catch up for all that Bush stuff. Obama talks good and is real clean, he gives people phones and makes sure I got my car and house. We don't need to talk to no people in other contries he needs to worry about what we need. I was not on food stamps or nothing until Obama got here and now I get all the things i need becuse of him, so he is a super leader. Bush don't give me anything and Romney is a jerk. everybody vote for Obama if you want stuff.
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