Obama Urged to Seize Reins as Crises Pile Up
Published March 14, 2011
President Obama gestures during a speech in Arlington, Va., March 14.
A conflict approaching civil war in Libya. An end-times tsunami in Japan. A Congress that can't reach a budget.
And ... gender inequality?
The topic of President Obama's weekend radio address has raised some eyebrows, as Obama has met mounting crises with the same restraint and cool that characterized his slow-and-steady campaign for president. To some critics, the tone set by the White House in light of recent upheaval may hurt the president's public image.
Amid chaos around the world and on Capitol Hill, Obama's Saturday radio address was devoted to Women's History Month and a call to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, a proposal meant to address the income gap between men and women. Then, the president went golfing at Andrews Air Force Base.
"I don't know if they don't realize the disconnect and maybe they don't care ... but it does matter," Dana Perino, former White House press secretary under George W. Bush, told Fox News.
Former Bush adviser Karl Rove said that he doesn't "begrudge" the president for taking time out for recreation, but Libya and the budget in particular demand more involvement on Obama's part.
Critics note that every time Congress works on a stopgap budget, it risks a government shutdown and does virtually nothing to cut spending, all the while creeping closer to a tricky -- and potentially disastrous -- vote on raising the debt ceiling; every day the administration defers to its international partners to weigh the best course of action in Libya, Muammar al-Qaddafi gains ground.
With the clock ticking, lawmakers and analysts are calling on the president to show a little more moxie on Capitol Hill and the world stage.
"He seems paralyzed," said Nile Gardiner, a director with the conservative Heritage Foundation.