Ron Fournier has doled out some leadership points to President Barack Obama, sort of.
The National Journal columnist, famed for constantly questioning the President’s leadership chops, wrote an article Wednesday “in defense of” Obama after a book detailed his skepticism of further involvement in the war in Afghanistan.
“As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his,” writes former defense secretary Bob Gates about a key 2011 meeting on Afghan policy.
“All too early in the [Obama] administration suspicion and distrust of senior military officers by senior White House officials—including the president and vice president—became a big problem for me as I tried to manage the relationship between the commander in chief and his military leaders,” he adds.
Gates further complains about “aggressive, suspicious, and sometimes condescending and insulting questioning of our military leaders.”
Fournier applauded Obama, contrasting his approach with that of the George W. Bush administration.
“To that I say, bravo,” he wrote. “While excerpts of Gates’s books are being interpreted as embarrassing for Obama, I’m looking forward to reading the memoir in full—and expect to come away more impressed with the president than his Defense chief.”
“A lack of skepticism, curiosity, and reflection sunk Bush,” he added later. “Further back, who knows how many lives would have been saved during the Vietnam War had President Johnson acted on his private doubts, most of which didn’t come to light until after he left office.”
Igor Bobic is the assistant editor of Talking Points Memo, helping oversee the site’s coverage of politics and policy in Washington. While originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor feels best at home on the beaches of Southern California. He can be reached at email@example.com.