President Barack Obama’s comments at the nuclear security summit in South Korea on Monday have been widely publicized. ABC News recorded part of Obama's conversation with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Camera's caught one statement in particular that lies at the heart of this week’s controversy concerning the U.S. president.
Obama was overheard saying, “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”
The initial response to the incident was confusion about what precisely Obama meant. His words speak for themselves, and at first glance, they speak of incompetency.
The day after this comment was broadcast, Obama reappeared in front of cameras. The Chicago Tribune gives an accurate summation of the contents of the speech attempting to put the controversy to rest. Obama said dealing with contentious arms-control issues is not appropriate during his presidential campaign. This leaves me, and many more, to wonder when it will be an appropriate time to deal with those issues, Mr. President.
I understand that during the next few months campaigning will take up a significant amount of Obama’s time, even rivaling the amount of time he spends on the golf course during his numerous vacations to Hawaii. He needs to spend a lot of time wooing the electorate if he hopes to continue his presidential career for another four years. However, it should not come at the expense of important issues like national security, health care or the unemployment rate.
Obama’s claim that dealing with arms-control issues is inappropriate during his presidential campaign rings false. As I said, the words speak for themselves. The U.S. president is not suggesting to Medvedev that they talk more about the issue after his election. He uses the word flexibility, not time. Obama’s diction communicates that he is willing to make concessions to Russia after his election that might be unpopular with the electorate.
The statement connotes a fear of fallout from concessions to Russia regarding the anti-missile shield. Thus, it would seem that Obama’s own opinion will have more pull in his decisions than that of the country he represents. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s opinions, featured in the Washington Post, raise valid concerns on the part of the American people. This is not the time for Obama to be ambiguous with his intentions.
I do not think Obama has any great plans to hoodwink the U.S., although his poor word choice certainly raises concerns in that area. Realistically, he is just incompetent, and the comment was an attempt to stall real work on the issues of arms-control. Instead of solving real issues, Obama is focusing on his presidential campaign, preferring to only deal with making the case for his reelection.
Obama’s statement speaks to a greater problem within the realm of politics. Many presidential candidates, including Romney and Obama, flip-flop on important issues in hopes of getting elected. For example, Romney has changed his stance on "Obamacare" so many times that his real opinions in that area might end up as one of the great mysteries of our time.
If any presidential candidate changes or moderates their opinion to get elected, it would appear that real change is not the objective of many politicians. Many just want to be elected to office, with few intentions to keep their pretty campaign promises.
Obama campaigned on the platform of bringing change to the U.S. His failure to bring many of his campaign promises to life is no one’s fault but his own. He can be added to a long list of politicians, Republican and Democrat alike, who have not lived up to expectations. The real change that America needs is not only in the presidential office, but in politics itself. The world’s oldest profession needs some work, but with unpromising candidates on both sides of the spectrum, the U.S. might have to wait a little longer.