Commentary: It’s Always a Surprise to Obama

July 18, 2011 - 7:34 AM

Barack Obama may be the most surprising President in the history of the Republic. In his two-and-a-half years in office, no matter what has happened, it seems to have come as a surprise to him.

Shovel-ready projects? Unexpectedly, they didn't exist. The only shoveling that went on was shoveling about $700 billion of our tax dollars into projects that didn't help jump-start the economy way back in 2009.

Health Care? Obama was shocked when it took a whole year and passed the House by just seven votes -- at a time when Obama had a majority of 75.

Mid-term elections? He was startled when his Close-Your-Eyes-and-Swing-at-the-Piñata style of government cost his party six seats in the U.S. Senate and an astonishing 63 seats in the U.S. House.

Increase taxes? In December 2010, during the lame duck session when Democrats still had their wide pre-election majorities, Obama seemed bewildered by Republicans insistence on keeping current tax rates and refusing to allow him to roll back what he and his pals in the popular press called the "Bush Tax Cuts."

Recovery Summer? That was supposed to have happened LAST summer. The President appears to be completely befuddled by an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent a year later.

Now President Obama has appeared to have been stunned at being forced to cut spending before Republicans will allow an increase in the debt limit.

Unless his daughters told him, I'm pretty sure the President was clueless about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II breaking the old record for a film on its opening weekend by $10 million when it took in $168 million domestically and $476 million - just under a half billion - worldwide.

And all those are just the domestic surprises.

The highly touted "Arab Spring" (which actually began in December 2010 in Tunisia) was supposed to lead to a region swinging over to popular democracies as country after country threw off the yoke of dictators and monarchs in favor of popularly elected governments.

The big one was Egypt where the demonstrations started right after New Years Day and led to the military tossing Hosni Mubarak over the side of the boat and into the Nile River promising to bring democracy to the most populous country in the region.

That led President Obama -- who, like everyone else on the planet, was totally unprepared for the velocity of Mubarak's demise --  to say, "Egypt will never be the same."

He was right. In yesterday's Washington Post there was a front page article in which reporter Leila Fadel wrote that the generals who are still in charge, are suggesting strongly "that the military be granted special status under a new Egyptian constitution in which the armed forces would not be subordinate to the president."

Largely unnoticed, protesters have returned to Cairo's Tahir Square. A mass sit-in this past weekend provided a platform for, according to the New York Times "42 different groups" each of which has a different set of demands of the military government.

How long until we routinely refer to the generals running Egypt as a "¿junta?"

Immediately to the west of Egypt a gentle nudge was going to topple Moammar Gaddhafi's rule. "Days, not weeks" we were told back in mid-January. Didn't happen. But we were told again last week that Gaddhafi is packing a valise and will be leaving any day now.

To Obama's great wonder, the effort in Libya has done more to show the weakness of the NATO Alliance than any weakness in Gaddafhi's hold on power.

Next door to the east, in Jordan Aljazeera is reporting that "In the third consecutive Friday of protests, about 3,500 opposition activists from Jordan's main Islamist opposition group, trade unions and leftist organisations gathered in the capital."

And, of course, in Syria President Bashar al-Assad has killed more than a thousand protesters but the Obama Administration is unwilling to "Do a Libya" in Syria because it would almost certainly mean going to war with Iran.

The 5½ wars (that we know about) to which Obama has committed the United States (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and a half war in Pakistan) are more than enough for the immediate past holder of the Nobel Peace Prize -- which, by the way, was also a surprise to the President.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the Wash Post and Aljazeera pieces as well as the definition of junta. Also the cutest Mullfoto of all time (and I didn't take it) and a Catchy Caption of the Day.