Commander -- or Dad -- in-Chief?

Bad time for an ice cream social

By Robert A. George
|  Tuesday, Jun 23, 2009  |  Updated 11:17 PM EDT
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The Obama Presidency in Photos

The nation's first father spent time with his two young daughters as he spoke about the virtues of fatherhood over the weekend.

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Are  the Obama "magic" instincts beginning to fail the White House

Over the last few days, several polls have shown increasing skepticism over rising deficits -- and the president's ability to deal with them.  On top of that, healthcare reform is reportedly "on the rocks."  And most significantly, as Iran protests increase on a daily basis, the president faces criticism at home that he hasn't been forceful enough in asserting American support for anti-Ahmadinejad protesters

So, what does President Obama do in the midst of all this?  Takes his daughters out Saturday on an ice cream social run in Alexandria, Virginia

No one begrudges the president time with his family.  And this was Fathers Day weekend -- an appropriate holiday for a day out with the kids. 

But when Obama is already getting some harsh words from his own political supporters for seeming to enjoy being seen as a public celebrity more than making tough political and policy decisions, wouldn't it have been smarter to do the Fathers Day thing behind closed doors this weekend? 

That's especially the case considering the additional public exposure he got Friday night at the Radio-TV Correspondent's Dinner -- reprising his late-night shtick from the White House Correspondents' Dinner two months ago. Wanting to be a celebrity-president is bad enough, but reruns already?

The president's rhetorical restraint on Iran might be understandable, he must keep in mind that, as much as he is "always" a father, while he's in office, he's "always" commander-in-chief as well.  That's especially true when there's a revolution going on in a nation quite hostile to the United States

In fact, the president could have made a major diplomatic and rhetorical statement Sunday that could combine Iran and Fathers Day themes: Over the weekend, millions have been riveted by the apparent brutal murder on video of a 16-year-old Iranian girl named Neda, protesting the disputed election -- apparently at the side of her father.

This would have bee the ideal moment for President Obama to appear as both "Top Dad" and commander-in-chief. He could have sent the message that the crackdown on protesters isn't merely "unjust" (one word he used this weekend), but also truly, morally wrong -- an insult to universal values.  

That would be more than just a morally correct thing to say -- it would be politically smart as well. 

New York writer Robert A. George blogs at Ragged Thots. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. 

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