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July 28, 2014 1:17 am
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Opinion: President Obama’s Leadership is Nowhere to Be Found

avatar by Dovid Bentevye

President Barack Obama. Photo: White House.

Recently, as we heard news that a civilian jetliner was blasted out of the sky near the Russian-Ukrainian border, Israel began operations to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, chaos continued in Iraq and Syria, and migrants illegally flooded our Southern border. On that same day, I had to take a circuitous detour to reach my apartment in Manhattan and my wife was stuck in our lobby because President Obama had decided to visit the apartment building next door.

Why was the President in my neighborhood on a day with multiple crises unfolding around the world?  Was it to fulfill Presidential duties?  The answer is, unfortunately, no. President Obama came to a private residence for a Democratic fundraiser.

I live in a nice part of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It’s filled with upper class liberals – exactly the sort of people Mr. Obama likes to associate with. By my count, I estimated hundreds of NYPD officers there for security that the taxpayers of New York City had to pay for.

Now, I recognize that the President needs utmost security. But does he need to disrupt a residential neighborhood at a time when people are returning from work, taking their kids outside for walks, or just trying to get their cars out of or into a parking garage (neither of which was allowed).

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If he were visiting a family of a 9/11 victim or a veteran, I would absolutely have no problem with such a visit.  If he were speaking to an audience to explain his legislative priorities and plans for how to deal with the issues of the day, I would have preferred he choose a more commercial location, but I could still tolerate the disruption.

A leader needs to lead, especially when major events are unfolding. Did Mr. Obama stop a mere mile away in Harlem, or the housing projects just a few blocks away to tell residents that he was working for them?  No. Did Mr. Obama visit residents in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island who are still trying to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy?  No. He visited rich people on the Upper West Side to raise money, disrupting thousands of people’s lives in the process, and then off he went to the next fundraiser in Manhattan before returning to our Nation’s capital.

Where is the outrage on the left about lack of leadership? But ultimately this is not a left or right issue. It comes down to the shear travesty of living in the best country in the world with a leader who is so utterly disinterested in leading.

Instead of leading on the Border Crisis, he went to Texas, not to raise the morale of overworked Border Patrol officers but for a fundraiser and to visit a restaurant. He goes to the water starved Southwest and California claiming to be an environmentalist, but does not meet with farmers struggling with severe drought.  He goes to pep rallies and then hits the golf courses that gobble up water that is so scarce in that part of the country.

What’s next for the President? He will go on a two week vacation where he will be staying at a $12 million house on tony Martha’s Vineyard. There he will continue his practice of hobnobbing with celebrities and hitting the golf course with friends.

I have long tuned out of politics because of my disgust with politicians and their self-serving nature, but a President needs to lead, no matter his policies. In times like these, Americans need a leader – someone who will speak to the American people and who will defend American interests across the globe. America needs leadership in these times of crisis, but it is leadership that is nowhere to be found.

Dovid Bentevye is a New York-based, emerging markets fund manager who invests widely in the former Soviet Union. His family are Jewish emigres from Minsk, Belarus.

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