President Billy Jack, Not John Wayne

There is no question that the American public likes their President to be like John Wayne. But as my late mother used to say, "When John Wayne dies, the movie is over."

Bravado from a U.S. President makes for good theater, but is not an effective policy. Saying "bring it on" or "dead or alive" or "mission accomplished" are feel-good moments, but actions speak louder than words. Extinguishing Bin Laden, ridding the world of Gaddafi, drone strikes on terrorist leaders, special forces operations against individual targets are not "shock and awe"—but they also doesn't have the cost or collateral damage associated with the massive use of force.

Yes, the United States could make the Middle East and Africa a glass parking lot. But that would not solve our problem. This President, unlike the last, understands the real enemy we are fighting.

Certainly, his communications team could use some improvement. Though having Vice President Joe Biden state, "We will follow ISIS to the gates of hell," is great rhetoric. However, the President continues to follow a strategy more in line with a plot from Billy Jack saga, slow to anger, takes slights without responding, and only when pushed does he resort to violence. It is a better model for dealing with terrorists.

Further, this President seeks consensus both at home and abroad. It is always better to head out with a posse at your back, even if you take the lead. Again, John Wayne is a single rider with a rifle in one hand, a pistol in the other and he rides his horse with the reigns in his mouth. Good theater, but not effective in a global context.

The President's enemies often call him weak. Yet, he doesn't seem all that concerned. They point to his "red line in the sand" statement with Syria as "weakness." But after he went to Congress for authority to act—after he made plans to build world consensus—Syria capitulated and agreed to get rid of chemical weapons. Bombing Syria may have made the right-wing feel-good move, but getting chemical weapons out of Syria was the goal.

Three facts must be pointed out here. First, Bashar al-Assad, having seen what happened to Bin Laden and Gaddafi, took the line in the sand seriously. Second, having Congress authorize the use of force is important so the world to sees that our country is united; before we take forceful action. Third and most importantly, once an objective is achieved it is better to declare victory and not putting U.S. forces at risk purely for ego is the sign of a very strong leader.

In short, it is better to have an intelligent, thinking President than a buffoon who is all hat and no cattle. This nation currently has the greatest President in our lifetime. His accomplishments dwarf those of any elected leader since Franklin Roosevelt--and he has done it despite the obstructionists, critics, and nay-sayers who dominate our house of representatives and our 24/7 news echo chamber. It is simply a shame that Americans, who have the collective attention span of cocker spaniel, fail to realize the greatness of this leader in real time.

But Abraham Lincoln suffered from the same myopic view of his contemporaries.  His greatness recognized only after he was gone. This President, however, continues to roll in his accomplishments. And the country, even if they don’t recognize it today, is far better off because of his intelligent approach to policy and foreign affairs. That makes for good government, even if it makes a lousy movie.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.


  1. It appears you have had a traumatic brain injury. Maybe that’s why the expression “Liberalism is a mental illness”. Why are you so angry? Ha Ha.

  2. A few weeks ago people were posting a chart about how Obama has boosted the economy in comparison to Reagan. How about we compare his term to Clintons? The truth is, our economy is still floundering. We have never really recovered since 9/11.

  3. Excerpt from W’s radio address on July 14, 2007

    “…To begin to bring troops home before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for our country. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al Qaeda, risking a humanitarian catastrophe, and allowing the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq and gain control of vast oil resources they could use to fund new attacks on America. And it would increase the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.”

  4. “Third and most importantly, once an objective is achieved it is better to declare victory and not putting U.S. forces at risk purely for ego is the sign of a very strong leader.” The problem (other than the awkward grammatical structure of this and some of your other sentences) is that the objective in Iraq was not achieved. Obama ignored the advice of his top military advisers with respect to exiting Iraq. And what happened? Exactly what the golfer-in-chief’s predecessor predicted:

    “At a White House news conference on July 12, 2007, Bush declared: ‘I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we’re ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al-Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean we’d be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.’” — Washington Post 9/8/14

    Regarding Obama’s leadership skills, I defer to MLK: “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” Obama does not know how to mold consensus, he only understands Chicago style thuggery as a means to his ends. The only thing genuine about our current president is his genuine disdain for everything that made this nation great.

  5. Haters notwithstanding, I think history will prove him right. As for the Republican obstructionists in the house, their legacy will be the same as those who opposed slavery and segregation. There is no place warm enough in the after-life for them, they are an embarrassment to their constituencies.

  6. SJI, it is unconscionable neither you or the Mercury did not cover 4 former SJ police chiefs coming together to speak of the disaster Mayor Reed and his allies on the council, including Sam Liccardo, have created in regards to the police department. There is little more important to the safety of SJ residents than this issue, and the media has a duty to report what these former chiefs are saying.

      • Exactly, Michael Roberts!

        The lack of journalistic integrity found on this website and within the Murk is appalling. Some may dismiss it as slant, but omissions and flat out inaction are the signs of a calculated agenda.

  7. If anything, Obama is even more simplistic in his approach than was Bush. Naively believing that it’s only the brutal dictatorships of the Middle East that keep the good people who are “just like us” from living in peace and prosperity, they got rid of Mubarak, Hussein, and Khadaffi, and did their best against Assad. In all cases the effect was opposite to what our brilliant policy analysts expected. Bush was reacting to 9/11. The “community organizer” reacted when he became nostalgic and giddy during the “noble uprising” of the Arab Spring. All Obama and Bush have done is help to destabilize the entire region and given once suppressed factions opportunity and encouragement to inflict their own brand of brutality.

  8. Rich:

    I suspect that the greatest president in our lifetime may have to schedule another TV speech to announce a strategy to replace the last strategy:

    We’re going to need a new strategy.

    “Moderate” Syrian Rebels Sign Non-Aggression Pact With ISIS; Iraq Defies US

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *