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Posted at 11:23 AM ET, 02/ 1/2011

Egypt is a PR problem for Obama team?

By Jennifer Rubin

That's the take from the New York Times.

On National Security Adviser Tom Donilon "running the behind-the-scenes discussions," the Times quotes a "senior administration official":

"It's no secret that Tom's style is one of running a very intense process," the official said. "Lots of meetings. Lots of inter-agency coordination. A very aggressive process. We are meeting very frequently at all levels of our government, insuring that we have the most up to date information for when we need to brief the president."

Got that? It's all about process. Fields of process. A tremendous amount of process.

But what about action and results? Not so much, for the administration is now playing the role of bystander, apparently unaware that our passivity communicates a lack of interest in, and, indeed, wariness of, democratic movements.

The Times also suggests that the administration views international events, even monumental ones, as mere distractions:

White House aides recognize a political danger: Much of the attention of the American media has -- at least temporarily -- shifted away from the narrative of the turnaround in Mr. Obama's political fortunes. Meanwhile, most Americans, though transfixed by the images from Egypt, remain primarily concerned about the economic situation in this country.

For Mr. Gibbs, the episode has a familiar feel. Several times in the past two years, Mr. Obama's administration has been diverted from its primary message by crises around the country or the globe.

This president plainly sees his domestic mission as paramount and all else as secondary. ("Distractions come with the job for all presidents," the Times explains.) Unfortunately, both our friends and foes can see that.

And finally, even the Times confirms that passivity soon devolves into incoherence:

Again and again, Mr. Gibbs, who will also leave the White House next month, endorsed what the White House has decided should be a bedrock principle in this kind of situation: an "orderly transition" to a government that respects the human and political rights of its people.

But Mr. Gibbs would not say whether such an orderly transition would require the departure of Mr. Mubarak, as many of the protesters in the streets of Egypt are demanding.

The administration seems to believe that voting "present" is a sufficient foreign policy tactic.

But despite the Obama team's best efforts, the public and media are focused on Egypt. And soon it may be Jordan that grabs our attention. For they see what the president does not: the potential for epic change in a critical part of the world. But the president has bigger fish to fry -- light rail! For a candidate who was lauded as worldly and sophisticated, President Obama, at times, can seem awfully insular and small-minded.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 1, 2011; 11:23 AM ET
Categories:  Obama White House  
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Comments

Here's my take:

Obama Likes To Party All The Time...Party All The Time... Party All The Time


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcOcGUOS4P8

Posted by: Dalibama | February 1, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I loathe the Obama administration as much as anyone, but I can't fault their handling of the Egyptian crisis. While they do sound mealy-mouthed, it would be wrong either to publicly throw a staunch ally under the bus or to rally around a doomed tyrant. A public stance somewhere in the middle is thus appropriate.

What is absolutely essential is that the administration do everything possible behind the scenes to thwart the Muslim Brotherhood. It's hard to get much sense of whether they are actually doing this. In the past Obama has tried to reach out to the MB. For instance, the MB was invited to his Cairo speech. I hope Obama won't push for them to be included in a new government.

Posted by: eoniii | February 1, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes you have to take a chance. By waffling on Egypt now instead of choosing freedom, Obama ensures whatever sides wins will hate us.

We are known for our hypocrisy - spouting "freedom" and "human right" while sending arms and money to the worst dictators, and even deposing elected regimes (as we did in Iran - replacing a democratic government with the hated Shat, at the behest of, good Lord, BP)

Just one, WE SHOULD DO THE RIGHT THING. Instead of waffling, and figuring the best angle, and staying on the fence in case it doesn't go out way. It's plain cowardice to not roll the dice when this is a Real people's revolution - Internet driven. The way to keep late-coming Islamists out is to befriend the people Now, not let them laugh at our feebleness and hypocrisy later.

Walk the Talk Obama. Get the meal out of your mouth.

Posted by: cybervigilante | February 1, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I thought they put Joe Biden on the ticket because he had foreign policy expertise? Where's he now? Probably conveniently out getting a brain trasnplant at the moment..hopefully from someone who actually has some FP expertise.

Posted by: flintston | February 1, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

The scariest part of the Obama mishandling of the Egyptian crisis is that he and his team really believe that by callously and publicly betraying a loyal American ally, Hosni Mubarak, they are doing the best job possible and of course serving America's interests. After all they have many PhD.'s and experts to advise them, right?
All the while every other American ally in the Middle East, the developing world, and especially smaller nations, now knows that they cannot count on America under Obama for even a shred of loyalty or support if a mob or rabble demands the overthrow of their governments.
Every American ally must now be asking themselves who Obama will abandon next when it seems convenient for him to do so.

Posted by: Beniyyar | February 1, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

"All the while every other American ally in the Middle East, the developing world, and especially smaller nations, NOW knows that they cannot count on America under Obama, for even a shred of loyalty or support if a mob or rabble demands the overthrow of their governments"

I think our allies in South Vietnam knew who they couldn't count on,as do our friends in Taiwan.

" The scariest part of the Obama mishandling of the Egyptian crisis is that he and his team really believe that by callously and publicly betraying a loyal American ally, Hosni Mubarak, they are doing the best job possible and of course serving America's interests."

This is quite a creepy statement,Mubarek is a creep,and American foreign policy is the motherlode of creepiness, especially in light of the contrast between our opinion of ourselves as exceptional with the fact of ourselves,same ole same ole.

Posted by: rcaruth | February 1, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

cyber wrote:

"Just one, WE SHOULD DO THE RIGHT THING"

So are you ok if doing the right thing means the election of an Islamic fundamentalist majority government? It's not a provocation, but a legitimate question for all who favor elections.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 1, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Mubarek always reminded me of Danny Thomas for some reason. Sum total of my expertise on Mideastern affairs.

I'm not Joe Biden but I'd like to play him on the miniseries someday.

Posted by: aardunza | February 1, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

beniy wrote:

"The scariest part of the Obama mishandling of the Egyptian crisis is that he and his team really believe that by callously and publicly betraying a loyal American ally, Hosni Mubarak, they are doing the best job possible and of course serving America's interests"

You keep writing this, and I keep asking you on what you base this accusation. NO ONE else anywhere is saying this, not even Mitch McConnell or other conservative voices. What do you know, that no one else does?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 1, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Full disclosure here. Having a glass of milk with ice cubes, that final fourth extraneous cube has frozen full-square to the one below, so every sip has that cube hitting square against my upper lip. (Or whatever that word is for where the mustache goes.) Don't you hate when that happens?

What, this isn't Impromptus? Never mind.

Posted by: aardunza | February 1, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

So the latest rumor is that Mubarak has pledged not to run for re-election.

So Jennifer please give us a preview of what you will write if the fundamentalists win a majority in the election. How will you blame everyobdy in the Obama administration and pretend that you never advocated free elections in the first place?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 1, 2011 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"The scariest part of the Obama mishandling of the Egyptian crisis is that he and his team really believe that by callously and publicly betraying a loyal American ally, Hosni Mubarak, they are doing the best job possible and of course serving America's interests"

That's hardly unique to Obama. The US did the same thing with Saddam, Suharto, Marcos and many others.

"All the while every other American ally in the Middle East, the developing world, and especially smaller nations, now knows that they cannot count on America under Obama for even a shred of loyalty or support if a mob or rabble demands the overthrow of their governments."

They've always known that. In fact, it's become conventional wisdom that being a US puppet is drinking from a poisoned chalice, because you will be dropped like a hot potato once you outlive your usefulness.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 1, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

"So are you ok if doing the right thing means the election of an Islamic fundamentalist majority government?"

Seeing as you have a problem with the MB conning to power, what is your position John?

a) Oppose secrecy and keep Mubarak in power and or replace him with another dictator

b) support democracy, incumbent upon all members of the MB being rounded up and locked away?

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 1, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

What is the difference between voting “Present” and voting “Absent”? Answer: No difference; they both equal “Abstain.”

"Obama, are you a leader?" Answer: "Present."

Posted by: nvjma | February 1, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Obama: el Pussy-Gato in chief. Very pussy-gato.

For me, the highlight of his career as president came before his election, when the Chinese Communists in Beijing endorsed him. At the time, I mourned the death of any remnants of intelligence and common sense in the American electorate; what clearer signal could be sent that Obama is an enemy of America and of freedom and human rights around the world than to have our enemy the ChiComs endorse him? And what ever happened to the story of all the foreign money the Obama campaign accepted via its "country-of-origin-field-disabled" credit card info form on its campaign contribution donor pages? How many millions of dollars from China and other antagonists bought the US presidency for this spineless hick? Obama care about the Egyptians? Let them eat Roz bil-Laban.

Posted by: johnnyramone | February 1, 2011 11:05 PM | Report abuse

When they said 'Abstain' Obama said, "Well I should hope so, been working out, man. You should try it, it will do you good!" Then he flexed and flashed 'em a smile and gazed back into the mirror at the gym.

Posted by: aardunza | February 1, 2011 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I do believe we have a genuine birther among us Jennifer.

"what clearer signal could be sent that Obama is an enemy of America and of freedom and human rights around the world than to have our enemy the ChiComs endorse him?"

I guess the fact that the Saudis (who finance al Qaeda) endorsed Dubya didn't bother you much.

"How many millions of dollars from China and other antagonists bought the US presidency for this spineless hick?"

How many conspiracy theories can a right wing hack produce in one post? Are we to beleive that the GOP have comevered this up or didn't bothr to check it out or are sitting on the story?

It's time to get a new tin foil hat johnnyramone. The one you're wearing is clearly too tight.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 2, 2011 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Shingo1. Who said anything about trutherism, moron. Pull your head out of Jimmy Carter's butt; Little Barry's gotta get in.

Wanker.

Posted by: johnnyramone | February 2, 2011 7:16 AM | Report abuse

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