This is the fifth post in continuing series comparing President Obama with Franklin Roosevelt. To anyone who has studied FDR’s presidency, Barack Obama looks like a pretty good argument for a belief in reincarnation.
Today’s topic is the tendency, shown by both Presidents, to dither during a crisis. We saw President Obama display this character flaw in April, May, and June of 2010; while oil was gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from a damaged oil rig. The administration not only dragged its feet on any kind of meaningful action to mitigate the damage, it repeatedly blocked BP and the State of Louisiana from taking action.
The same kind of indecisiveness cost thousands of Libyan citizens their lives in February and March of 2011, when radicals launched a rebellion against dictator Muammar Gaddafi. A strong-minded President would have made a decision as soon as it was apparent that a civil war was starting, and either supported the rebels decisively, or stayed away resolutely. President Obama did nothing for weeks, then decided to support the rebels after France and a few other European countries took the lead.
Like so many other unfortunate characteristics, this tendency to waffle in the face of a crisis is something Obama seems to have inherited from Roosevelt.
In her book The Forgotten Man, author Amity Shlaes gives several examples of FDR’s inability to make decisions at critical times. One took place in June of 1933, when Roosevelt sent two emissaries to an international economic conference in London; one who believed that Roosevelt had sent him to negotiate a return to an international gold standard, and one who believed Roosevelt had sent him to do precisely the opposite.
Roosevelt let his pro-gold-standard representative negotiate with England and the other European powers for most of the conference, then jerked the rug out from under his negotiator, and from the foreign powers who had been trying to negotiate in good faith.
US Secretary of State Cordell Hull was described as “a stricken man” as he tried to put America’s relationships with our allies back together. One of Hull’s top aides resigned in protest. The President was jolly, and continued to make inconsistent moves that kept investors and foreign governments guessing.
Those of us who love this country should pray that President departs from the FDR example in at least one area. Roosevelt was elected for four consecutive terms; let’s hope that’s three more terms than President Obama gets.