Our president should have studied Ronald Reagan more closely.
The last week has generated many shocking moments, not a few of which involve our commander-in-chief. Conservatives are certainly taking their shots at President Obama. Some of these are justified; others perhaps less so. I say this sympathetically as someone who studies the Middle East, and realize what a damned mess it presents for any policymaker, let alone a president.
That said, the news that President Obama has been absent from so many of his daily intelligence briefings is a stunner. There’s simply no good excuse for it. It comes on the heels of reports from Bob Woodward that Obama doesn’t regularly attend “security briefings.”
According to a study by the Government Accountability Institute, based on the publicly available White House calendar, Obama failed to attend a single Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) in the week leading up to 9/11 and the chaos that erupted in the Arab world. The mere fact that we were approaching 9/11 was itself a crucial reason for attending not one but all of the briefings. Obama attended none.
Worse, this is apparently nothing new. Obama attended only 43.8 percent of his Presidential Daily Briefs in the first 1,225 days of his administration; that’s less than a majority.
Again, this is shocking, and there’s no excuse for it.
Marc Thiessen, who worked for President George W. Bush, pressed NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor for an explanation. Thiessen reported:
Vietor did not dispute the numbers, but said the fact that the president, during a time of war, does not attend his daily intelligence meeting on a daily basis is “not particularly interesting or useful.” He says that the president reads his PDB every day, and he disagreed with the suggestion that there is any difference whatsoever between simply reading the briefing book and having an interactive discussion of its contents with top national security and intelligence officials where the president can probe assumptions and ask questions. “I actually don’t agree at all,” Vietor told me in an e-mail. “The president gets the information he needs from the intelligence community each day.”
Thiessen continued: “Vietor also directed me to a [Washington] Post story written this year in which Obama officials discuss the importance of the intelligence meeting and extol how brilliantly the president runs it. ‘Obama reads the PDB ahead of time and comes to the morning meeting with questions,’ The Post reported. ‘One regular participant in the roughly 500 Oval Office sessions during Obama’s presidency said the meetings show a president consistently participating in an exploration of foreign policy and intelligence issues.’”
Yeah, right. More nonsense from a scandalously biased media that refuses to do real reporting on Barack Obama.
Likewise disputing the PDB report is White House spokesman Jay Carney, who dismissed the charge as “hilarious.” No, no, said Carney, the president “gets it every day.” By “it,” Carney was apparently talking about the briefing papers, not the actual meetings.
Naturally, “journalists” happily accepted Carney’s explanation. CNN helped out by posting Carney’s comments under a photo of a pensive Obama sitting at (allegedly) an intelligence briefing.
Ah, yes. There you go.
All of this is crazy. Simply crazy. Only the most unquestioning dupes and sycophants in Obama’s base (and media) could accept these defenses.
To my knowledge, as a presidential historian, this is extremely unusual — probably unprecedented for a president. Has there ever been a president, certainly in the post-WWII period (when the CIA was established), who has blithely missed so many intelligence briefings? I don’t think so. George W. Bush didn’t. He attended the PDB six times per week, as Thiessen notes.
Personally, I can speak with authority on the case of Ronald Reagan, who liberals, ironically, portrayed as an uninformed idiot who didn’t pay attention in meetings or read anything.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?