There is no question that the American public likes their President to be like John Wayne. But as my late mother used to say, “When John Wayne dies, the movie is over.”
Bravado from a U.S. President makes for good theater, but is not an effective policy. Saying “bring it on” or “dead or alive” or “mission accomplished” are feel-good moments, but actions speak louder than words. Extinguishing Bin Laden, ridding the world of Gaddafi, drone strikes on terrorist leaders, special forces operations against individual targets are not “shock and awe”—but they also doesn’t have the cost or collateral damage associated with the massive use of force.
Yes, the United States could make the Middle East and Africa a glass parking lot. But that would not solve our problem. This President, unlike the last, understands the real enemy we are fighting.
Certainly, his communications team could use some improvement. Though having Vice President Joe Biden state, “We will follow ISIS to the gates of hell,” is great rhetoric. However, the President continues to follow a strategy more in line with a plot from Billy Jack saga, slow to anger, takes slights without responding, and only when pushed does he resort to violence. It is a better model for dealing with terrorists.
Further, this President seeks consensus both at home and abroad. It is always better to head out with a posse at your back, even if you take the lead. Again, John Wayne is a single rider with a rifle in one hand, a pistol in the other and he rides his horse with the reigns in his mouth. Good theater, but not effective in a global context.
The President’s enemies often call him weak. Yet, he doesn’t seem all that concerned. They point to his “red line in the sand” statement with Syria as “weakness.” But after he went to Congress for authority to act—after he made plans to build world consensus—Syria capitulated and agreed to get rid of chemical weapons. Bombing Syria may have made the right-wing feel-good move, but getting chemical weapons out of Syria was the goal.
Three facts must be pointed out here. First, Bashar al-Assad, having seen what happened to Bin Laden and Gaddafi, took the line in the sand seriously. Second, having Congress authorize the use of force is important so the world to sees that our country is united; before we take forceful action. Third and most importantly, once an objective is achieved it is better to declare victory and not putting U.S. forces at risk purely for ego is the sign of a very strong leader.
In short, it is better to have an intelligent, thinking President than a buffoon who is all hat and no cattle. This nation currently has the greatest President in our lifetime. His accomplishments dwarf those of any elected leader since Franklin Roosevelt–and he has done it despite the obstructionists, critics, and nay-sayers who dominate our house of representatives and our 24/7 news echo chamber. It is simply a shame that Americans, who have the collective attention span of cocker spaniel, fail to realize the greatness of this leader in real time.
But Abraham Lincoln suffered from the same myopic view of his contemporaries. His greatness recognized only after he was gone. This President, however, continues to roll in his accomplishments. And the country, even if they don’t recognize it today, is far better off because of his intelligent approach to policy and foreign affairs. That makes for good government, even if it makes a lousy movie.