So where is the president?
Japan may be on the verge of a disaster that dwarfs any we have yet seen. A self-governing nation like the United States needs its leader to take full measure of his position at times of crises when the path forward is no longer clear.
This is not a time for leadership; this is the time for leadership.
So where is Barack Obama?
The moment demands that he rise to the challenge of showing America and the world that he is taking the reins. How leaders act in times of unanticipated crisis, in which they do not have a formulated game plan and must instead navigate in treacherous waters, defines them.
Obama is defining himself in a way that will destroy him.
It is not merely that he isn't rising to the challenge. He is avoiding the challenge. He is Bartleby the President. He would prefer not to.
He has access to a microphone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If he tells the broadcast networks in the middle of the day that he has a major address to deliver on an unprecedented world situation, they will cancel their programming for him.
And yet, since Friday and a press conference in which he managed to leave the American position on Libya more muddled than it was before, we have not heard his voice. Except in a radio address -- he talked about education legislation. (read more)