President Barack Obama gave a "check the box" speech before the Labor Day holiday to be "seen" talking about how the United States would respond to the threat posed by the Islamist State, but did not provide much in the way of substance, Republican political strategist Karl Rove told Fox News.
Obama held a news conference Thursday to report on the threat, where he said his administration didn't "have a strategy yet." White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest
on Friday told MSNBC that the president was talking specifically about a plan involving possible U.S. strikes in Syria.
"I make of the news conference that it was a 'check the box.' It was, 'We're about ready to go into a long holiday. I need to go talk to the press. I need to be seen.' But, it really had little substance," Rove, former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, told "America's Newsroom" on Friday.
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Rove said Obama was saying, "Basically, I don't have a strategy to deal with ISIS in Syria," that he was "nowhere further on ISIL in Iraq" and wouldn't give "a definitive update on things," referring to an alternate name for the Islamic State group, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The speech was "an appalling display of a lack of leadership on the part of the United States for our commander in chief and chief executive," Rove said, adding that the president's strategy was more reactive than active.
"A large measure of it is that he's constantly behind the eight ball. He does not think strategically. He does not have America focused on what is coming next," he said.
Rove said it was "astonishing" why Obama "dawdles like he does," when intelligence operations had been tracking ISIS for "months and months and months."
"The president has no sense of urgency about what our vastly critical problems facing our allies, our interests, and in this instance, the United States itself," he said.
On Obama's comments about the crisis Ukraine is facing with the threat of Russian aggression, Rove said Obama has an equally casual approach.
Rove said the president's attitude is, "Yeah, they're doing really bad things, the Russians are, and we'll get together next week in Europe and try and figure out how we are going to respond to them."
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