Rethinking America, American Bystander

Should Obama Quit His Job?

The job of president of the United States is impossible for anyone holding that office.

U.S. President Barack Obama (Credit: Pete Souza - White House)

Takeaways


  • The world does not want to be ruled by #America. It wants America to lead the world into a more optimistic future.
  • Mr. President, you have my permission to take a few days off!
  • Tough opposition is one thing. But should Republicans even deny Obama a brief family vacation?

Does this happen in other countries? The President of the United States gets to take a four-day family vacation — and the opposition party attacks?

It probably does happen in other countries. Even so, while watching the news, I decided that — if I were Barack Obama — I would resign.

Why would I do that? The simple reality is: “President of the United States” is a lousy job to have these days.

As President, you face an opposition party that is fueled by populism, but never even considers the consequences of all the often wholly contradictory initiatives it suggests.

This includes cries for stronger American intervention on behalf of potentially unreliable partners in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Libya and South Sudan. In all these crisis zones, the American right wants to position the United States squarely on one side or the other of centuries-old – sometimes millennia-old — ethnic and sectarian strife.

As President, one would have to wonder if anyone in the opposition had really thought these policies through in terms of their impact on the way they would stretch the country’s already stretched military, on the way they would undermine the country’s fiscal soundness and on how they would extract a potentially disastrous human toll at home and abroad?

Domestic and international expectations – at loggerheads

Balancing this, you, as President, must also face a world that expects the United States to play a central role in sustaining global stability, but at the same time expects America to adhere to certain limits on the use of its power.

The world does not want to be ruled by America. It wants America to lead it into a more optimistic future, where the Four Freedoms of Franklin Roosevelt provide the North Star, the guiding light toward the realization of pluralistic, multicultural dreams and ambitions.

These two views are diametrically opposed. They are polar opposites In the United States and around the world.

The President of the United States must nonetheless manage U.S. foreign policy through these two prisms.

As if that weren’t enough of a practical challenge, the list of global hot spots that a U.S. President is expected to “fix” is long. Currently, it includes

    ■  The most recent eruption of the Israel-Palestine conflict

    ■  The emergence of China as a global power

    ■  Iran’s nuclear ambitions

    ■  Regional territorial disputes over islands in the South China Sea

    ■  The handover of Afghanistan

    ■  Global weather anomalies that are raising environmental red flags

    ■  A potentially catastrophic drought drawing near in the Western US

    ■  An Ebola outbreak in West Central Africa — and

    ■  Desperate children under arrest at United States’ southern border.

Of course, the opposition party mercilessly finds a way to attack the President on each and every one of these issues, while always keeping their eyes on the important stuff, like Benghazi.

Some might suggest that dealing with all of these complex issues and being second-guessed every step of the way by an often irrational domestic opposition is asking too much of any President. But then, just when you were getting fed up with dealing with all of this, they say you can’t take a vacation!

Mr. President, I would just quit if I were you. But while you consider this, you have my permission to take a few days off.

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About Richard Phillips

Richard Phillips is a New York-based international analyst with extensive financial sector experience. [United States]

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