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Priorities

Posted by Richard on March 26, 2011

To date, President Obama has spent more time talking to ESPN about his bracket picks than explaining to the American people his decision to launch "kinetic military action" against Moammar Gaddafi.

In today's Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan argued that the President must make the speech he hasn't made, and it must answer many, many questions about his war on Libya:

It all seems rather mad, doesn't it? The decision to become involved militarily in the Libyan civil war couldn't take place within a less hospitable context. The U.S. is reeling from spending and deficits, we're already in two wars, our military has been stretched to the limit, we're restive at home, and no one, really, sees President Obama as the kind of leader you'd follow over the top. "This way, men!" "No, I think I'll stay in my trench." People didn't hire him to start battles but to end them. They didn't expect him to open new fronts. Did he not know this?

He has no happy experience as a rallier of public opinion and a leader of great endeavors; the central initiative of his presidency, the one that gave shape to his leadership, health care, is still unpopular and the cause of continued agitation. When he devoted his entire first year to it, he seemed off point and out of touch.

This was followed by the BP oil spill, which made him look snakebit. Now he seems incompetent and out of his depth in foreign and military affairs. He is more observed than followed, or perhaps I should say you follow him with your eyes and not your heart. So it's funny he'd feel free to launch and lead a war, which is what this confused and uncertain military action may become.

What was he thinking? What is he thinking?

Which gets me to Mr. Obama's speech, the one he hasn't given. I cannot for the life of me see how an American president can launch a serious military action without a full and formal national address in which he explains to the American people why he is doing what he is doing, why it is right, and why it is very much in the national interest. …

Read the whole thing.

This evening, we learned that the President will address the nation about Libya on Monday. He also finally remembered that other branch of government, and deigned to talk about Libya with Congressional leaders via conference call. 

Like the military action itself, the speech Monday will be belated and probably not as decisive or satisfying as one might hope. But maybe he can use the occasion to update us on his bracket picks. 

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