I go out of my way to read stuff written by Michael Lewis. I was looking forward to getting some insight from his piece on Barack Obama in the most recent issue of Vanity Fair. It turns out it’s a puff piece that could be summarized as follows: Michael Lewis thinks President Obama is really cool. But what neither Lewis nor the president may have expected is the light it sheds on how Obama got us into the mess in Libya. The article, much to Vanity Fair’s dismay, might end up putting the president in a tough spot, especially now that foreign policy is going to be front and center in the debates.
Libya is going to be a real problem for the president, especially when you see how he came to his decision to save the people of Benghazi. Before committing to help, he met with “the principals,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, White House Chief of Staff William Daley, Head of the National Security Council Tom Donilon, and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. They gave him two options: do nothing or establish a no-fly zone. The president rejected both:
Obama then proceeded to call on every single person for his views, including the most junior people. “What was a little unusual,” Obama admits, “is that I went to people who were not at the table. Because I am trying to get an argument that is not being made.”…
Several of these people had been with Obama since before he was president—people who, had it not been for him, would have been unlikely ever to have found themselves in such a meeting. They aren’t political people so much as Obama people.
This is yet another example of the president acting like a regular guy and not the president. But when you’re the president of the United States, the “regular guy” is checked at the door. Lives depend on you. You need to make the decisions, and it probably makes sense to listen to your experienced advisors rather than your entourage.