Obama ‘The Decider’

11 05 2011
MAY 11, 2011 By Matthew Continetti

Everyone seems to agree that the killing of Osama bin Laden will put to rest the notion that President Obama is indecisive. I don’t know what they’re talking about. President Obama has seemed to me to be perfectly capable of making decisions ever since he ordered the use of deadly force against Somali pirates in 2009. Obama’s problem isn’t a lack of decision-making capability. It’s that almost all of the decisions he makes are wrong.

Obama’s “leading from behind” during the Arab Awakening, for example, is less an instance of dithering than a concerted policy not to appear “imperialistic.” In the final analysis, Obama did not miss the opportunity to support the Green Revolution in Iran in the summer of 2009 because he was playing the “To be or not to be” game. He made a conscious decision to maintain relations with the illegitimate government in Tehran because he feared a replay of the 1953 Mossadegh affair. Similarly today, the Obama administration downplays the horror in Syria not because it can’t make up its mind but because it is theologically committed to the absurd idea that Bashar Assad could play a role in a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians.

Obama has made plenty of domestic-policy decisions, too. And almost all of them have been terrible. The stimulus, the auto bailout, health care, “green energy” industrial policy, devaluing the currency, unleashing the EPA—none of these initiatives has promoted the cause of economic growth. Obama’s decision to demagogue Paul Ryan‘s budget rather than rein in the deficit endangers our country’s future. His education and parenting initiatives seem reasonable, if you believe the federal government has a role in education or parenting. I’m increasingly of the opinion that it does not.

Obama’s best decisions are those that continue or build upon the policies of his predecessor: preventive detention, rendition, warrantless surveillance, drone strikes, and counterinsurgency and surge of troops in Afghanistan. Yet there’s no reason why the 2012 Republican nominee can’t acknowledge the president’s good choices—while observing that they are few and far between.

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