Barack Obama's election in 2008 ushered in a new era of global harmony, an achievement that won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. Given the president's superior leadership skills, it is curious that his administration is so frequently "surprised" by problematic development both at home and abroad.
After taking office, for example, Obama was surprised by the number of critical issues facing the country. He was surprised by the magnitude of the opposition to Obamacare, as well as the political cost that Democrats paid in the 2010 midterms. The disastrous rollout of Healthcare.gov in late 2013 also took the administration by surprise. Earlier that year, the president learned about the IRS targeting scandal by reading about it in the news; same goes for the scandal at Veterans Affairs. When former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak declined to step down in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, Obama officials were surprised. Obama was shocked to learn in 2013 that the NSA had been spying on foreign leaders.
The Obama administration has been particularly confounded by events of the past couple of years. For example, the president admitted to being surprised by the rapid rise of the Islamic State, the terrorist group he once dismissed as a "JV team." Obama officials were completely surprised when Islamic State fighters captured the city of Mosul, Iraq, and admitted they had not prepared a contingency plan for such an outcome.
When child migrants started streaming across the southern border at an unprecedented rate, the development "caught the administration by surprise," as did the news that Arab nations were launching airstrikes against Islamist militants in Libya in 2014, as did the collapse of the Yemeni government in 2015.
The Russian annexation of Crimea and subsequent invasion of eastern Ukraine caught the administration completely flatfooted after the administration had convinced itself that Vladimir Putin would not deploy troops to the region. They did, however, issue a swift hashtag response. Just last week, the administration announced its surprise at the signing of a joint intelligence agreement between Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Russia, a move that came several days after Russian military forces surprisingly appeared in Syria to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
On the bright side, there's always the possibility that, rather than being genuinely surprised by these developments, the Obama administration has simply been lying to the American people all this time.
We are in the best of hands.
Published under: Barack Obama