Since shortly after Barack Obama entered the White House, I have been pointing out that he seems largely uninterested in doing his job. Now that he has been safely reelected, even the New York Times is more or less letting the cat out of the bag.
In describing the incoherence of the White House on Syria, the Times has this:
A close examination of how the Obama administration finds itself at this point — based on interviews with dozens of current and former members of the administration, foreign diplomats and Congressional officials — starts with a deeply ambivalent president who has presided over a far more contentious debate among his advisers than previously known. Those advisers reflected Mr. Obama’s own conflicting impulses on how to respond to the forces unleashed by the Arab Spring: whether to side with those battling authoritarian governments or to avoid the risk of becoming enmeshed in another messy war in the Middle East.
This picture of a President who cannot make up his mind on a vital issue is bad enough. Making up his Administration’s mind is pretty much a President’s entire job. The truth, however, seems much worse.
Even as the debate about arming the rebels took on a new urgency, Mr. Obama rarely voiced strong opinions during senior staff meetings. But current and former officials said his body language was telling: he often appeared impatient or disengaged while listening to the debate, sometimes scrolling through messages on his BlackBerry or slouching and chewing gum.
The President wasn’t having a hard time making up his mind. He was playing Angry Birds.
However you interpret the fact that the President’s closest aides had to interpret his thinking and level of engagement by his body language, this story leaves no doubt that the President was barely even present at a critical moment. Meet the man who wasn’t there.