Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Obama's iron and gloved fists

Certainly to the surprise and chagrin of harsh political critics who wish him the worst, President Obama within a matter of days displayed two mature characteristics that will be strengths of his presidency while also providing the world a new reassuring model of U.S. governance.

First, the commander-in-chief calmly and without revealing his hand meticulously plotted with the Pentagon a step-by-step rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips from the hands of Somali pirates. Without pause, he ordered lethal force if necessary.

Obama did not rush out with guns blazing in the early hours of Capt. Phillips' plight, though he was taunted by one bomb-throwing, right-wing blogger who called the commander-in-chief "President Pantywaist" for not acting like a quick-draw cowboy.

Then, as the piracy hostage drama neared an end, Obama ordered a dramatic reversal in hard-line, half-century-old policies toward communist Cuba.

Cubans in the United States can now visit relatives in Cuba and send them money, while U.S. telecommunication firms are being encouraged by the White House to apply to Havana for operating licenses. The president ignored right-wing hisses about being soft on communism.

These two actions show Obama's gloved-fist approach (relaxing failed U.S. sanctions on Cuba) and iron-fist resolve (ordering force to rescue a U.S. captive of pirates).

A president who acts deliberately, and without panic, and ignores rabble-rousing shouts for reckless action in touchy situations provides a calming influence on a world that unfortunately has been on edge and wound tight by the gunslinger mentality of Obama's predecessor.

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