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September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
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The Unbelievable President

The controversy over President Obama’s several public assurances that Obamacare would permit people to keep their insurance plans is a disturbing reminder of some very troubling things about this president that have come to light during the course of his presidency.

Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that Mr. Obama really was initially unaware that Obamacare would not necessarily permit the retention of existing plans. What would that tell us about the hubris and irresponsibility of a president who used every procedural trick in the book, including the notorious reconciliation procedure, to engineer passage, by a bare majority in Congress, of a gargantuan and hideously complicated plan whose salient details apparently escaped his notice?

And what would it say of the competence of his staff if no one alerted him to the truth after he misspoke the first time? And if someone more knowledgeable did make a call or send a memo, how then did the president continue to make the same assertion for several weeks?

Of course there is the uncomfortable possibility that he knew the truth all along but would say anything to ensure passage of his healthcare legislation, perhaps figuring he could rely on his undisputed silver tongue and an ever-compliant media to assuage the public outrage that was certain to explode once the truth was known. That scenario is far from unlikely, given the history of this administration.

The day after the terrorist attack last year on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the president held a press conference in the Rose Garden and said that “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation.” Yet his national security adviser, Susan Rice, for weeks afterward was giving interviews and asserting that the attack was not a terrorist attack but the spontaneous reaction to the airing of an anti-Muslim video.

And then there was Mr. Obama’s declaration and prompt abandonment of that “red line” regarding the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons in its civil war. There were also his initially credible threats about a military option to thwart Iran’s nuclear pursuits which he has effectively abandoned through his deferential negotiating posture with Tehran.

So it came as no surprise to read a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece by John Vinocur, former executive editor of the International Herald Tribune. The article, headlined “Europe Loses Trust in Obama,” stated that the president’s “turnabouts on Syria and Iran – coupled with his policy fumbles – have diminished European allies’ traditional respect for the White House.”

Offering numerous examples in support of his argument, Mr. Vinocur wrote that “These days, and to varying degrees, the governments of France, Britain and Germany regard Mr. Obama as a problem. No longer only expressed in private, the notion represents a decline in the reflexive acceptance and respect that had cushioned European attitudes about his historic presidency.”

If that’s not enough to raise the red flag as to the dangers posed by a weak, ineffectual, and feckless president, consider this: Mr. Obama still has more than three years left in the White House.

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