GOP Strategist on Obama: Teeing Off on ISIS Doesn't Mean Golf

Monday, 25 Aug 2014 05:24 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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President Barack Obama has a leadership problem, and it's only gotten worse lately as his tough talk on Islamic terror is paired with images of him hitting a golf ball and grinning from a cart, Republican strategist Kurt Bardella told Newsmax TV on Monday.

"It's not confidence-inspiring when someone's out there saying, 'We need to hold ISIS accountable. We need to get answers,' and then he's taking a swing from the 17th tee," Bardella told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner. "That just doesn't really look like leadership to anybody."

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Bardella, president of a strategic communications firm and a former staffer to U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, said Obama and his advisers seem unaware — or unconcerned — that they operate in a 24/7, Internet-fueled media space where public impressions of presidential leadership are formed.

Every "moment today is chronicled," said Bardella. "Every single thing that you do, every activity that you engage in, there's a photograph of, there's a tweet about, there's a day-to-day, minute-to-minute diary of what any president and leader is doing."

"It was a lot easier to hide, frankly, back in the '60s and '70s than it is today," he said, "and because of that new-found scrutiny, how you conduct yourself, and what you spend your time doing, is going to be scrutinized to the Nth degree.

"You have to be aware of that, and see how is that going to play off in perception . . .  amongst American people, as well as, in this case, the entire international community."

Bardella contrasted the president's earliest remarks on ISIS, dismissing them as a "junior-varsity" terror squad, with the administration's rhetoric today.

"Now all of a sudden you have the secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, saying this is the most important threat that we face right now," said Bardella. "That's a huge gulf and divide between what the president was saying about ISIS six, seven months ago and where we are today."

Bardella speculated that the lapses in media strategy and continuity are a product of timing: a presidency well into its back nine, and a second-term team already eyeing the exits.

"You have to believe that if this were 2010, and there was an election two years from now, they would be choreographing this thing entirely differently," said Bardella.

Now, he said, "There's no election left, nothing to run for after this, so they're going to do exactly what they want to do, how they want to do it, and for anyone else who is impacted by that, politically or not, they're indifferent about it."

The indifference extends to the coming midterm elections, said Bardella.

"You look at all the Senate Democrats that are in trouble right now, who are vulnerable, and the fate of the Senate right now rests in the balance . . . and nothing that this president has done, whether it be the border crisis or whether it be what's going on with ISIS — none of that has helped them politically," he said.

Bardella said the president did well in dispatching Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson, Missouri, to help quell racial tensions and violent demonstrations in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting.

"Something had to be done," he said, arguing that federal oversight lends "credibility" to the state investigation into the death of the unarmed young black man at the hands of a white police officer.

But Ferguson may be the exception to what Bardella described as the current norm: "an alarming lack of leadership right now coming from President Obama."

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