As America’s strategic and political position in the Middle East continues to deteriorate, President Barack Obama’s political opponents have stepped up their claims that he is an ineffective leader on foreign policy.
But New York Times columnist David Brooks isn’t convinced those attacks will work. During his weekly appearance on PBS’s “NewsHour” on Friday, Brooks suggested Obama deserves a pass for remaining calm throughout the crisis, which he said puts a kind of burden on his challenger, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
“So, Obama, I think his task is reasonably clear — just be calm, stay calm, whatever that British slogan [is that] we’re all repeating now, ‘stay calm and in control,’ whatever it is,” Brooks said. “And so he just has to be calm. And somebody made a good point today. He had a pretty bad week in the Middle East, or a pretty bad two weeks in the Middle East, but he reacted with calmness. And so he sort of gets a pass on really what is sort of a chaotic administration policy. Romney is the one with the burden. … He has to say, listen, I haven’t been a great candidate, but if you elect me, there are four organizations I’m going to fix. I am going to fix the tax code.”
Brooks suggested Romney go big with his policy gestures in novel and genuine ways.
“OK, so do the tax code, do energy policy and do the political system,” Brooks said. “Or go say, ‘Hey, this guy won’t talk about the fiscal cliff. I’m going to cut a deal. I will cut a deal to — so we don’t go off the fiscal cliff, so business can have some confidence.’ That would be the sort of unusual thing that I think would be a practical thing that would be believable.”