Obama the Weak

Obama the Weak

By Jack Kelly - May 29, 2011

Many Republicans are unhappy with their choices for president, especially after Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels declined to run.

But the ideal GOP candidate was on display in Washington last week.

He has experience in executive positions in both government and private business, and an impressive military record.

As a graduate of both Harvard and MIT, his establishment credentials are impeccable. But his strong conservatism has a populist strain. He connects with ordinary folks.

He's a member of a minority group which usually votes Democratic.

A champion debater at Cheltenham High School in the Philadelphia suburbs, he is an inspiring orator. He gets under Barack Obama's skin.

Alas, Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu already has a job. He's prime minister of Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu concluded a powerful week Tuesday with an address to a joint session of Congress. He received 29 standing ovations. ABC's Jonathan Karl noted that during his (much longer) State of the Union address, President Barack Obama received only 25.

The Israeli prime minister returned home strengthened immeasurably by Mr. Obama's clumsy effort to diminish him. The highlight of his visit came during a joint appearance at the White House when Mr. Netanyahu delivered to the president's face a short, respectful, but powerful explanation for why Israel could never return to its 1967 borders.

Mr. Obama's body language indicated he was surprised and displeased that Mr. Netanyahu would dare confront him. And when the president tried to walk back what he'd said about borders during his speech Sunday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the heavily Democratic audience of 1,200 mostly sat on their hands. Other speakers at the AIPAC conference -- including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. -- sided with Mr. Netanyahu.

"This is what a leader looks like," wrote Bryan Preston of Pajamas Media of Mr. Netanyahu's "very impressive" speech to Congress. "Not a word of it will have to be 'clarified' or walked back in a day or two. It will not be 'misunderstood,' as President Obama claims his speech of last week has been. I have had many friends on the Republican side tell me 'if only we had a candidate like that.' "

Bibi Netanyahu can't run for president of the United States. But he showed those who are running how to get the better of Mr. Obama: Talk straight. Talk substance. Go directly at him.

While Congress was applauding Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Obama was showing us what leadership isn't. On a visit intended more to advance his re-election campaign than the interests of the United States, Mr. Obama played Ping-Pong with British Prime Minister David Cameron, signed the wrong date in the distinguished visitors' log at Westminster Abbey and botched a toast to the Queen.

The fluffiness of the agenda didn't prevent Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron -- pygmies who imagine themselves giants -- from comparing themselves to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

We should bear this in mind when Obamaphiles in the news media bemoan the alleged weakness of the Republican presidential field. Jay Cost, perhaps the premier psephologist in American today, noted that the three most plausible declared candidates -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman -- all have more impressive resumes than Barack Obama did when he ran for president. And -- unlike Mr. Obama, who voted "present" more than 100 times in the Illinois legislature -- all can boast significant accomplishments.

They are likely to be joined soon by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who takes a back seat to no one in the straight talk department. And a strenuous effort will be made to push Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. -- who gets as deeply under Mr. Obama's skin as Mr. Netanyahu does -- into the race. (Wisconsin law would permit Mr. Ryan to run for president and for re-election to the House at the same time.)

The GOP field arguably is weak ... compared to Bibi Netanyahu. But Republicans are running against Barack Obama, who's made a hash of the economy and foreign policy, and who seems to spend more time golfing and partying and campaigning than attending to his duties. The weaker candidate in 2012 won't be the Republican nominee.


Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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