It took Jimmy Carter the first six months of his tenure in the Oval Office to learn that a president's time is precious and must be focused on the most urgent priorities facing the nation at any given moment. It was at that point that Carter stopped doing absurd tasks like reviewing scheduling requests from his staff to use the White House tennis court. Carter never completely overcame his obsession with paying attention to details better left to aides, however, and this flaw was a major factor in producing his monumentally failed presidency.
Thirty-seven years and five presidents later, Americans are now confronted with what appears to be a similarly failed presidency in progress. Not coincidentally, former Carter speechwriter James Fallows wrote in a 1979 Atlantic Monthly essay that Carter and his closest aides were determined not to repeat the mistakes of Watergate and Vietnam. Anything not understandable in one of those two contexts might as well have not existed. For President Obama and his closest aides, the war in Iraq appears to serve the same purpose. This is seen in national security adviser Susan Rice's July 25 letter to House Speaker John Boehner encouraging repeal of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq to reassure Americans that U.S. ground forces will not again be sent to Iraq.
|This administration is fiddling while the world burns, and now they're demanding Congress play with them.|
It's not often that this page is at a loss for words, but the Rice request comes close. Fortunately, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., has no such problem. His response should be read by every American:
“Obama Administration officials are warning us daily that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is worse than al Qaeda and an extreme threat to the American people. The American people aren't worried that the president will send the military back to Iraq. They're worried about a deadly terrorist state that can hit us from Wall Street to Main Street. They're worried that this president refuses to do anything, at anytime, in any way, to stop the flood of national security crises that are popping up around the globe.
“Why on earth is the president's national security adviser pleading with Congress to help build Americans' confidence that the president will not confront a clear and present danger to the United States? He needs no help there. Where is her plan to stop this looming threat? Where is her request for additional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to monitor the situation? Why isn't she over here, building support to stop a common enemy? Why is she fighting Congress instead of ISIS? Why on earth is she refighting the 2003 Iraq War in 2014?
“This isn’t just absurd. We’re past absurd. This is dangerous. This administration is fiddling while the world burns, and now they’re demanding Congress play with them. If the administration fought terrorists with half the tenacity they fight straw men, we wouldn’t be in this mess. It is my sincere hope that someone comes to their senses on Pennsylvania Avenue, before something worse happens.”