What is Obama up to?


At 54, Barack Obama may well believe – and with more than a little justification – that the political world still has something in store for him.
But with the search for the new secretary-general of the United Nations now well under way with the usual East 42nd Street suspects, that doesn’t seem a job some of us thought for which he might be angling. Why else would be entrust so much of his “transformation” foreign policy to hapless international organizations?
Just because we are suspicious doesn’t mean we are paranoid. But one note has struck us in his many recent interviews. The rather badly handled one with Fox News’ Chris Wallace comes to mind. Wallace couldn’t figure out how to frame his questions to keep control of the narrative, and so when Obama began his superficial philosophizing, Wallace had to jump in ineffectively to give us mostly jabberwocky.
Still Obama did make a point worth noting. It was interpreted by the Talking Heads, quite rightly as a nasty crack at the Brits, so often a target of his derision and disrespect. When asked for the worst mistake of his administration, he said it was the failure to anticipate what would happen after the Qadaffi regime in Libya was brought down. Of course, his critics might find another half dozen or more egregious examples. He said he had not anticipated what would come with regime change and that he had left it to Cameron who had dropped the ball.
But we found it interesting that he did not kiss this question off as he did so many other direct interrogations from Wallace. He might very well have said that history would be the judge of his mistakes, a not uncommon answer other presidents have given the not terribly original question. Much was made his blaming the Libyan disaster on his not unknown object of antagonism, London..
But bringing up Libya at this particular time was not very helpful to Hillary Clinton, running more scared than had been anticipated for the Democratic nomination. Bringing up Libya at a time when Republican Congressional investigators are still going after her role as Secretary of State in the death of an American ambassador and three other U.S. officials at Benghazi wasn’t very helpful to the Hillary campaign. And the whole “leading from behind” strategy which has been such a target for his critics, was hardly a subject he would have wanted to get into, one would have assumed.
Just a coincidence? We wonder for we find the President’s public positions in the present campaign for the Democratic nomination a rather strange one. Yes, he has said, it would be a good thing to have a woman president. And he has endorsed Hillary’s credentials for the post. But he has not endorsed her, nor has his vice president.
Given what is likely to be a highly contested general election tussle between Hillary and whoever comes out of the Republican scrounge, the Obama endorsement as soon as possible would seem to be the order of the day. After all, it is pretty clear that as Hillary – if and when she gets the nomination – comes closer to the general election, she is going for crass political reasons to have to put distance between herself and an Obama Administration which is more and more criticized and a president who appears to have, at least for the moment, lost his mojo.
Obama’s legacy, as we are constantly told is a high priority concern of his, is increasingly up for grabs. Obamacare, his only major domestic accomplishment, almost daily turns into a bigger disaster. His strategy of an orderly retreat from what he regards as American overcommitment overseas, is bleeding at every regional conflict where U.S. intervention and leadership had been the order of the day for a half century.
So the relationship between Obama and the nominee for president may well decide whether he has any future political role. And that may be why he is playing a cat-an-mouse game with the Hillary campaign and her supposed nomination.
sws-04-15-16

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