Bill Burton’s op-ed about President Obama’s frequent golf outings is a nice attempt to distract from Americans’ chief complaint:

I thought that going on vacation with the president would be a real perk of serving as deputy press secretary in the Obama White House.

Don’t get me wrong: Some elements of it are amazing. When you do find some down time, you can find yourself in one of the most beautiful places on Earth enjoying its splendor with the leader of the free world and your buddies.

That is—when you can find some down time.

As Washington chews over yet another presidential “vacation,” and that most Washington of words—“optics”—let me take you behind the scenes of the last time President Obama took flack for supposedly being “disengaged” while world events marched on around him.

First, let’s dispatch with the word optics. It’s mostly used by liberal journalists who then ignore the problem. Yes, the optics are terrible when the supposed leader of the free world talks somberly about the beheading of an American journalist, then is seen joking and fist-pumping an hour later.

When those things happen, it’s natural for people to question President Obama’s sincerity and his commitment to ridding the Middle East of terrorists.

What actions did President Obama put into action from the sand trap on the 9th hole? Did he finally figure it out that ISIL is a real threat to the American homeland while putting on the 15th hole? If he didn’t figure that out on the 15th, did he get word of Gen. Dempsey’s statement that we’d need to take out ISIL’s command-and-control while driving up to the 18th green? By the time he got back to his compound, had he called Gen. Dempsey and told him to stop talking about ISIL as a threat more dangerous than al-Qa’ida?

It was Christmas Day 2009. Osama bin Laden was still at large. A 23-year-old Nigerian man was caught trying to bring down a passenger airliner headed for Detroit—which would have been the most devastating terrorist attack since 9/11. The day of, and the days that followed, the botched bombing saw the president and his staff, in Hawaii, at the White House and scattered across the country on their own family vacations – snap to attention and drop everything else to make sure we were doing all we could to keep Americans safe.

The president was not a passive bystander. He led America’s response to the apparent terrorist attack, soaking up new information as it came in, running meetings and issuing orders. As a regular matter of course, vacation or not, the president is briefed on intelligence every day. In this instance, he was receiving twice-daily updates on the situation in Detroit as well as three-times-daily updates on matters around the world from the Situation Room. As events developed, the president was directing his national security team—cabinet secretaries, intelligence officials and the military. He was awash in reports from the government and from the media.

Thank God for the Obama administration snapping to immediate attention. If only they hadn’t told law enforcement to read the failed bomber his Miranda rights.

While it’s true the optics have stunk all summer, the truth is that President Obama’s policies have been disastrous. That, Mr. Burton, is what Americans are most worried about. Russia annexes Crimea. President Obama proposes limited sanctions on a handful of Russian billionaires. When ISIL captured Fallujah, President Obama called ISIL a jayvee team. When ISIL threatened to capture Baghdad, President Obama talked about the need for Iraq to sing kumbayah.

When Hamas killed Israelis, President Obama criticized Israel for not being gentle enough on terrorists who then hid behind 5-year-old human shields otherwise known as children. When missiles were found in a UN-run school, he dispatched John Kerry to the region, where Kerry’s plan was immediately rejected by the responsible nations of the region.

Just once, it’d be nice if the administration would get a policy decision right.

Unfortunately for America, it’s more likely that President Obama will hit a hole-in-one on his next vacation than he’s likely to make a solid policy decision.

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