The empty office presidency

Obama inexplicably embarks on a tour of Latin America as America launches military strikes in Libya

Edward Morrissey

At the end of last year, a small-scale scandal erupted in New Jersey when a record-setting snowstorm hit the Garden State while both Gov. Chris Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno vacationed outside the state. Christie had spent most of the year on the national stage using a confrontational style of leadership in showdowns with public unions, and to criticize the Obama administration, so this vacuum of executive leadership in a public crisis presented a unique opportunity to attack Christie — and many liberals did not allow it to pass.

Lately, we’ve been seeing plenty of examples of a lack of leadership from the White House that have nothing to do with freak weather conditions. Barack Obama has refused to engage directly in budget negotiations, a pose that has his own party’s Senate caucus wondering whether he’s setting them up to look radical by swooping in at the last moment to propose deeper cuts to the rump budget for fiscal year 2011. This week, the Obama administration made clear that it would not offer any leadership on Social Security reform until both parties release proposals of their own — despite then-candidate Obama’s insistence in October 2007 that he rejected the notion that Washington politicians “should hedge, dodge, and spin, but at all costs don’t answer” on Social Security policy.

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