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  • Somebody Watched Too Many Episodes of 'The West Wing'

    The closer we get to the election, the more the White House rewrites the notion of “state secrets.” First there was the sneak-peek of Osama bin Laden’s mail. Then there were complaints about supplying Hollywood with inside information for a film version of the raid on bin Laden’s compound.  Now, The New York Times reports key details of how the president is running his private war against al Qaeda. Among the revelations is that the president is personally signing-off on a “kill list” of when, where, and which high-ranking al Qaeda operatives will be targeted.

    In part, many will recoil at what seems to be a crass political ploy to leak information that portrays the president as a hands-on, effective commander-in-chief. Indeed, the Oval Office seems to routinely target The New York Times for trumpeting alleged foreign policy accomplishments. There is, however, a deeper and more troubling concern. It all sounds a bit too much like LBJ picking targets for the Pentagon during the Vietnam War.

    From a practical stand point, it is as big a mistake for a president to try to run the war out of the Oval Office as it was for fat generals to command their troops in the trenches from their Chateaus behind the lines. Further, when presidents start to act like battle captains, they cease acting like presidents. It is engrossing to be absorbed in tactical details and be in on the action. Unfortunately, that takes time away from being president. The White House would be better off spending a lot more time on preventing automatic budget cuts from gutting the armed forces—cuts that just the other day, the president’s secretary of defense labeled “disastrous.”

    It is also all too easy to become victim of a belief in “push button” war — the notion that the president can solve all the world’s problem from his plushy chair in the White House. That works on TV shows like “The West Wing” and movies like “Air Force One,” not in the real world. Wars cannot be won this way. 

    Both Kennedy and LBJ were enamored with special warfare units and covert operations. They wound-up finding out the hard way that these were no easy buttons for winning the Cold War.  If Obama persists like acting like warrior-in-chief rather than commander-in-chief, he may soon learn the same bitter lesson.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    19 Responses to Somebody Watched Too Many Episodes of 'The West Wing'

    1. @prokeitho says:

      James,
      Your article is interesting, however…
      President Obama ordered the strike on Osama Bin Laden, and he did an excellent job.
      The President is the Commander in Chief… Commander of all of the Military.
      I disagree with you, that he should basically take a "hands off approach" to securing our nation from those who want to destroy us, and only concentrate on domestic issues.
      Keeping a hands on approach, on all aspects of running this country, is why we voted President Obama into office in the first place.
      I think your criticism falls short.
      Best Regards.

      • Bobbie says:

        when the commander in chief shows to have mental issues incapable of handling logic and reason, it's best to take a "hands off approach" as men handle the job with logic, work with logic and stand by logic with the ability to reason and whose record shows these attributes. People that can't handle the job appropriately and in good faith need to take a "hands off approach."

      • Lloyd Scallan says:

        Obama DID NOT "order" the strike." He had to be dragged off of the golf course for the now famous photo opt. Note the golf shirt under the jacket he was given to hide the fact. He had no "hand" in planning or directing the strike. A Navel admiral ran the entire mission, not Obama. If your idea of a "commander in chief" is someone who is inteligent enough to say the word "yes" between golf strokes, then he's your president. But make no mistake, "we" did not vote for Obama". Only fools like you and your ilk did. You're responsible for what's happening to this nation. Be assured, you will be held lible.

      • Larry N Stouffer says:

        …And Obama Akbar "Keeping a hands on approach on all aspects of running this country" is why he'll be out of office on 20 January 2013.

    2. Joel says:

      Excellent. I loved the additional sources. Instant share.

    3. Dan says:

      We should send Mr. Obama to BUD/S. It may give him more but save insight into the men he send to war. Let him be really hands-on. It will make a difference from Martha's Vineyard….

      • John Persico says:

        How many people did President Obama send to "WAR"?How many died from lies by the republican party and the deciet of 9/11??Tens of thousands…

    4. Rich says:

      He is the Commander & Chief,but he is not a CIA operative or a Military Intellienge Officer,you need to take some of these people alive for Information.He should keep his hands off "Kill List's etc.The US Navy Seals & our Intelligence community killed Bin Laden.His primary job as President is to protect the American people,to keep our Military strong,instead of cutting it to Pre-WW2 strength's.

    5. Larry Allen says:

      Perhaps he is compensating for his past and his total absence from anything requiring a commitment to duty or honor or country. A man who admits to using drugs, cavorting with Marxists, and having no real use for the military is now in charge of the most powerful military on the planet. Soldiers are now his pawns and puppets.

    6. Rob says:

      Our President must be a Warrior, who will destroy all the enemies of America. Obama is an enemy of America.

    7. When he signs off on a kill list, i doubt he is making the research and deciding on how to orchestrate the strategy. As the executive, he has to review and sign off on big decisions. He is criticized for being soft, or he is criticized for overstepping bounds, or for taking credit for doing his role to make decisions and for making them(in so far as a president's role in the larger scheme of things goes).

    8. Kenneth says:

      He may be the Commander In Chief but he does not have any more experience in running a war as say, a plumber. And might I add there are some very smart plumbers out there.

    9. @prokeitho I never suggested the president take a "hands-off" approach, what I said is the commander-in-chief should focus on matters most appropriate for the commander-in-chief. When commanders get bog down in activities that are more appropriately done by others 1) they are less efficient. There are only 24 hours in a day, every hour spent not acting presidential is a distraction, and 2) they are often not in the best position with the most appropriate knowledge to make decisions. There is a reason the owner of a baseball isnt sitting in the box telling the pitcher which strikes to throw.

    10. @prokeitho I never suggested the president take a "hands-off" approach, what I said is the commander-in-chief should focus on matters most appropriate for the commander-in-chief. When commanders get bog down in activities that are more appropriately done by others 1) they are less efficient. There are only 24 hours in a day, every hour spent not acting presidential is a distraction, and 2) they are often not in the best position with the most appropriate knowledge to make decisions. There is a reason the owner of a baseball isnt sitting in the box telling the pitcher which strikes to throw

    11. Eagle 6 says:

      Well said! Jimmy Carter micro-managed as well, because it was in his comfort zone. The difference is Pres Carter didn't leak to the press his decisions on whether to allow the Butlers or the Curreys into the Rose Garden on June 18th… The current Clown in Chief, with his stellar "corpse man" background, is riding the coattails of highly-trained experts and flaunt their successes for his benefit. While the military, not the nation, is at war, we are seeing historic cuts. If he wants to lead, maybe he could define our objectives and/or endstate in Afghanistan, succeed or fail in those objectives, and get our Soldiers home. THEN start dismantling our great military and invite our Middle Eastern buddies to wreak havoc….again.

    12. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Ask the question: why is Obama's lackeys doing this? The answer is he has nothing else to run on. Only distortions of the truth can save him. All polls show that just after the bin Laden killing, Obama numbers rose. So, his handlers will beat this horse to death beause they know they cannot address his record and still win in November.

    13. Pearl says:

      I agree with Rich… Obama DID NOT capture/kill Osama Bin Ladin. He couldn't make up his mind about what to do,so the General in charge made the decision for him. Obama is just a flopping fish when it comes to making real decisions. Since BEFORE he became President, he has wanted to weaken America ,and has done a pretty good job of it so far. I Pray to God he doesn't get re-elected. If he does, it;s good-by America as we know it.

    14. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      I watched The West Wing until Martin Sheen got too political for my taste.

    15. Roger S. says:

      I think this indeed may be one of his duties, but he seems to enjoy the idea of making it public,
      which is utterly inappropriate, given the circumstances, so it becomes just another way for him to grandstand. That's what he does: GRANDSTAND! Unfortunately, that's all he does. That's all he ever really learned in life: to impose his personality on others. That's not grand. That's pathetic! And stands for ZIP !

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