One has to read between the lines
In polo shirt, shorts and sandals, President Obama headed to the golf course Friday morning with a couple of old friends, then flew to Camp David for a long weekend. Secretary of State John Kerry was relaxing at his vacation home in Nantucket.
It’s almost like that pesky POTUS business is inconvenient. Gotta get in 18 followed up by more vacation days. And then there’s Monsieur Kerry, if which the State Dept. initially denied that he was off yachting (a very 1%er thing) while Egypt burned, only to finally, reluctantly, admit, “yeah, he was“.
Aides said both men were updated as increasingly bloody clashes left dozens dead in Egypt, but from outward appearances they gave little sense that the Obama administration viewed the broader crisis in Cairo with great alarm. While the violence distressed American leaders, the unspoken truth is that many of them are at least conflicted and in some cases not all that unhappy about the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.
The relative calm in Washington also reflects a longer-term shift in American relations in the Middle East. While Egypt was once seen as the singular strategic player in the region, today other countries play a larger role. The overriding American interest in Egypt is preserving its three-decade peace with Israel, which officials believe the military is committed to doing.
The fact is that Obama and his team have completely bungled our foreign policy in regards to Egypt (along with many other nations) in pushing their “smart power” notion, and the United States has little to no influence in Egypt. But Team Obama has sure earned the ire of the Egyptian people, based on the messages the Egyptian people have for Obama and Ambassador Patterson.
For all the NY Times’ waffling regarding whether or not Obama embraced the Morsi government, the reality is that Team Obama worked hard to accommodate the increasingly dictatorial and Islamist government. Furthermore, Team Obama never seemed all that concerned with holding meetings with Islamists at the White House, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The president met in the Situation Room on Thursday with his national security team, and the White House released a photograph showing the session. His cabinet secretaries and top national security aides called various officials in Egypt, Israel and elsewhere. But Mr. Obama’s decision to go golfing on Friday angered some Egyptians, and the only public comment from the administration as the crackdown in Cairo turned violent came from a State Department spokeswoman urging calm.
That’s weird, we’re still waiting for photos of What Obama Was Doing as our consulate and CIA annex were attacked on 9/11 in Benghazi and our people were murdered.
But, no one should really be surprised by Obama’s activities. Egypt didn’t capture his attention enough to do more than a brief photo-op and a quickie written statement, which said he was “deeply concerned” about, apparently, Egyptians ditching the increasingly dictatorial government (perhaps this was a bit of concern about Obama’s own rising dictatorial powers). Golf, sailing, and frivolity were more important, and as the Egyptians work towards a better future, they’ll increasingly ignore America.