Editorial

Can NATO intervene here?

Dorian Davis Adjunct Journalism Professor, Marymount Manhattan College

Now that Muammar Gaddafi’s regime is on the brink of collapse, perhaps NATO can focus on another leader who has “lost the consent of his people”: Barack Obama.

The U.S. government has never been good at listening. President Bush spent $700 billion on auto bailouts though a majority opposed them. And Obama has made it a habit to ignore public opinion. His health care law, for instance, never cracked 50 percent public approval. And his 2012 budget called for over $1 trillion in deficit spending even though Americans overwhelmingly opposed raising the debt ceiling. Bloomberg’s recent report that the Federal Reserve lent $1.2 trillion to failing banks around the world — loans this administration kept secret — validates what 83 percent of respondents told Rasmussen earlier this year: that the U.S. government doesn’t have the consent of the governed.

A few weeks ago, Al Gore called for an “American Spring,” the third-best idea that Gore has ever had, behind the Internet and concession. I’d be onboard for an American Spring — assuming it were non-violent. It’s time for Washington to listen to people.

You might think at first that Obama has been more responsive to Americans than Gaddafi has been to Libyans, but look at their records:

Both are delusional. When NATO started bombing Tripoli last spring, Gaddafi unleashed a 70-minute tirade on state TV, claiming in part that protestors were “on drugs.” No more lucid, in the midst of a joblessness epidemic and a national credit downgrade, Obama claimed time and again during his recent bus tour that there’s “nothing wrong with America.”

Both torture people in a way, Gaddafi with violence — in March, he threatened to “cleanse” the rebel stronghold of Benghazi — and Obama with indecision. Obama frustrated leaders of both parties with his refusal to take a stance on gay marriage, not to mention his foot-dragging on the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal and the Gulf oil spill.

Both have refused to quit. Gaddafi has ignored Western leaders’ calls for him to skip town, and Obama has ignored Republicans’ calls for him to pull the plug on his presidency. He’s gearing up for re-election now.

And, under international pressure, both have disappeared. Gaddafi has been hiding since NATO forces started bombing Tripoli in March. And Obama has been out of sight since S&P downgraded our credit rating on August 5. He flew up to Martha’s Vineyard last Thursday.

To be sure, there are some big differences between Gaddafi and President Obama. For one thing, Gaddafi is a better dresser. But neither listens much to public opinion. According to Gallup, over 70 percent of Americans now believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction. Obama’s approval rating sank to an all-time low this month. And Democratic pollster Pat Caddell called Rasmussen’s presidential job approval numbers “pre-revolutionary.”

A full-blown intervention is out of the question — the U.S. is the biggest contributor to NATO — but France was quick to call on Gaddafi to leave. It could at least do the same to Obama.

Dorian Davis is a former MTV HITS star turned libertarian writer. He’s been published in Business Week, NY Daily News, XY & more. He’s an NYU graduate and National Journalism Center alum. He teaches journalism at Marymount Manhattan College.