Outside View: Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue

By JAMES ZUMWALT, UPI Outside View Commentator  |  Dec. 31, 2013 at 12:04 AM
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HERNDON, Va., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- While nightmares can be terrifying, waking up always brings one back to reality. But what if, as in the horror movie "Nightmare on Elm Street," waking only brought uncertainty as to whether one was returning to reality or a recurring nightmare?

Today, as we live the "Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue," no such uncertainty exists. We awaken to the frightening reality of a two-term, incompetent president whose promises of change are destroying the country.

The "ship of state" of which Barack Obama took command on Jan. 20, 2009, is leaking badly, having repeatedly hit shoal after shoal in both domestic and international waters. Yet he remains oblivious to the damage. The only time the ship is safe is when Obama abandons the Oval Office for the golf course -- a trip made more than 150 times at last count.

An inexperienced helmsman, Obama was elected to office by voters who believed him to be their last best hope for the future. His eloquence as a speaker instilled confidence among voters but blinded them to the fact the United States needed more than a community organizer to set the ship on a safe course.

Since then, the country has experienced disaster after disaster under a president whose leadership mirrors that of a drunken sailor. Yet, despite such incompetence, he escapes the in-depth scrutiny his performance deserves.

In the past, two estates provided the focus for debate when the crew of our ship, entrusted with its safety, irresponsibly put it in peril -- America's "Third" and "Fourth Estates."

Society recognizes five estates: the clergy, first; the government, second; the people, third; the media, fourth; and, outside-mainstream-media critics, fifth. Traditionally, the Third and Fourth Estates have worked together to hold the first two accountable, stimulating debate on matters of great national interest. Sparking the debate, the Fourth Estate awaits the Third Estate's entry into the fray.

Long overdue is a debate on whether the man entrusted as the ship's captain is qualified to remain in command. While Obama has dismissed more than a dozen senior military leaders for incompetence, he -- as commander in chief -- needs to be measured by the same yardstick.

That yardstick's measure will show gross incompetence. Obama has endangered all onboard as the ship sails without a compass -- with even his own party members questioning his competency.

Unfortunately, incompetency has proven contagious within the administration. Even Obama's advisers have failed to guide him properly, facilitating his incompetency.

Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, demonstrated this in an interview aired Dec. 22 on "60 Minutes." Asked about U.S. inaction on Syria, Rice shockingly represented no international law basis for intervention exists.

This is the same Susan Rice who, in June 2009 as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, strongly endorsed its 2005 Responsibility to Protect provision. R2P is defined as a "new international security and human rights norm to address the international community's failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity."

Caught up in the contagion as well is U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. He misrepresented, following the Geneva talks on Iran's nuclear program, a deal preventing further enrichment was reached. Reading the document, one quickly grasps it not only wasn't a "deal" but simply a guideline lacking legal enforcement and any mention of an enrichment prohibition.

While the Fourth Estate has done little to spotlight Obama's incompetency on such international issues, it has started to focus on domestic legislation that is, ironically, touted as Obama's major achievement in office. But we now see Obamacare for what it is -- yet another disaster.

Even strong supporters of the healthcare plan, such as the New York Times, now have reservations about it costing more and doing less for the middle class. These concerns are valid -- the administration recently acknowledging Obamacare can be prohibitively expensive.

As with misrepresentations about Syria and a nuclear deal with Iran, similarly serious misrepresentations about Obamacare have been put into play.

Is it possible for one administration to be so wrong on so many critical issues so often? Or, is this a concerted effort by presidential advisers, knowledgeable about Obama's across-the-board incompetencies, being unwilling to sound the alarm their ship is sinking?

Either way, the issue demands debate -- although both are grounds for Obama's removal from office.

Revisiting Obamacare's 2010 endorsement by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., adds fuel to the fire concerning gross incompetency. Suggesting people didn't appreciate how great the health plan was, she said, "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy."

She, as most legislators, failed to read the epic legislation (nearly 11,000 pages), only supporting it because a Democratic administration did. (Interestingly, Pelosi did find sufficient time to write a book while in office.)

Meanwhile, the American people are recognizing Obamacare is as damaging to the country as hazardous waste is to its environment. It can potentially bankrupt the United States.

Did Kerry adopt Pelosi's approach by supporting, while not actually reading, the short, four-page document outlining the nuclear "deal" with Iran? Or, did he intentionally misrepresent it to protect an incompetent president?

Stopping Iran's nuclear program is the most important issue of 2014. It at least deserves a reading by the secretary to understand its full impact, before claiming to represent such in front of a Fourth Estate less likely to do so.

Never before in U.S. history has it been so important for these two estates to work together, focusing the spotlight on a rudderless ship manned by a clueless crew destined, otherwise, to go down with all hands.


(A retired U.S. Marine, Lt. Col. James Zumwalt served in the Vietnam War, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf War. He has written "Bare Feet, Iron Will -- Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran -- The Clock is Ticking.")


(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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