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Saturday, August 30, 2014         

UNDER THE SUN


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Actions of the past days suggest being president is no easy task

By Cynthia Oi

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The men and women who want to displace the current occupant of the White House better review the past few days of his life on the job.

Public events that engaged the president through the last week were sufficiently hectic, but glimpses of behind-the-scenes activity and the complex decisions that led to the Osama bin Laden mission hint at the magnitude of duty that floods the office of the nation's chief executive.

Degrees of importance fluctuate along with purpose and motivation of undertakings. Still, you have to wonder what ran through President Barack Obama's mind when he dealt with the "silliness" of "carnival barkers" like Donald Trump, all the while knowing he must soon make the extremely risky call of how and when to take down the al-Qaida leader.

Last Wednesday, Obama held a news conference to show his long-form birth certificate in an attempt to quash the ridiculous notion that he isn't a U.S. citizen.

The next day, in another in a series of focused national security meetings, the president was presented with military options designed to end the nearly 10-year-long manhunt for bin Laden.

On Friday, he made up his mind, then boarded Air Force One for Cape Canaveral to watch the launch of the space shuttle Endeavor, which was scrubbed, and flew to Alabama to visit tornado-devastated communities and the people who lost their homes in the storms. He gave a commencement speech in Miami before heading back to Washington for more briefings.

On Saturday, Obama delivered a speech at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, an obligation that some presidents consider a burden with its display of celebrity and sycophancy.

When he took comedic aim at fellow guest Trump, he'd already made the decision to go get bin Laden and in that context his lines seem even more cutting.

He joked that in Trump's firing of Gary Busey on a "Celebrity Apprentice" episode in which a team cooked bad steaks, the real estate mogul recognized "that the real problem was a lack of leadership."

"These are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night," Obama quipped, adding, "Well handled, sir, well handled."

Neither Obama, nor his team members who also attended the event, gave any indication of what was to come, that in less than 24 hours, commandos would raid a compound in Pakistan where bin Laden was believed to be hiding.

It was a huge gamble that rolled national security, terror, military and foreign policies and domestic politics into one risky pursuit that could have ended badly. That it didn't gave Obama a brief bit of breathing room before a fallout of criticism and Monday-morning quarterbacking clouded the air.

Today, when potential candidates for the White House begin the first of many debates before the November 2012 election, they ought to take a moment to consider whether they will have the capacity to keep this country on an even keel. Obama's no superman and the presidency is no cakewalk. They have to ask themselves if they really, really want his job.

Cynthia Oi can be reached at coi@staradvertiser.com.






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