The Absentee President

George W. Bush was well known for his early-to-bed early-to-rise routine. He did not tolerate late night functions well, and he religiously received his national security briefings from his team of national security advisors at 7:30 AM every day.

One of the interesting insights we gained from the 2012 presidential campaign was how Barack Obama regularly receives his national security briefings in writing. Call him the iPad President. It’s also telling that when the President does receive his briefings in person; they are always scheduled at 10:30 AM.

A congressional committee hearing last week featuring testimony from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about the administration’s response to the Benghazi consulate attack on September 11, 2012. The hearing provided the damning revelation that after receiving an initial briefing on the attack that day, the President of the United States did not check on the status of the feeble effort to save the lives of our ambassador and other operatives later that evening at all. The following is an exchange with Secretary Panetta which took place during that hearing:

SEN. GRAHAM: Are you surprised that the president of the United States never called you, Secretary Panetta, and say, ‘how’s it going?’

SEC. PANETTA: I — you know, normally in these situations –

SEN. GRAHAM: Did he know the level of threat that –

SEC. PANETTA: Let — well, let me finish the answer. We were deploying the forces. He knew we were deploying the forces. He was being kept updated –

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I hate to interrupt you, but I got limited time. We didn’t deploy any forces. Did you call him back — wait a minute –

SEC. PANETTA: No, but the event — the event was over by the time we got –

SEN. GRAHAM: Mr. Secretary, you didn’t know how long the attack would last. Did you ever call him and say, Mr. President, it looks like we don’t have anything to get there anytime soon?

SEC. PANETTA: The event was over before we could move any assets.

SEN. GRAHAM: It lasted almost eight hours. And my question to you is during that eight-hour period, did the president show any curiosity about how’s this going, what kind of assets do you have helping these people? Did he ever make that phone call?

SEC. PANETTA: Look, there is no question in my mind that the president of the United States was concerned about American lives and, frankly, all of us were concerned about American lives.

SEN. GRAHAM: With all due respect, I don’t believe that’s a credible statement if he never called and asked you, are we helping these people; what’s happening to them? We have a second round, and we’ll take it up then.

On a parallel to his national security style is President Obama’s absentee approach to our economy. He formed a national debt and deficit commission with much fanfare, and then he ignored their recommendations. He created a jobs council to help address the interminable period of high unemployment since he took office, and has not convened a meeting with them since late 2011.

Now that he has been re-elected, look for the State of the Union speech to reflect an unbridled sense of entitlement to power as well as to the policies of the President’s choosing – mostly a state-based agenda that panders to select classes of people instead of ones that unite us as one people with the protections of our individual rights guaranteed.

People will say what they will about George Bush, but thanks in part to his commitment to out national security, there were no further attacks on U.S. soil under his watch like that which occurred in Benghazi last September.

Unfortunately, we now have an absentee President whose policies and approach to the office have jeopardized our future and placed our people at home and abroad at risk of harm, physically and financially.


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