Topics: Barack Obama

Obama administration 'phoned it in' on Egypt

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Beltway Confidential,Barack Obama,John Kerry,Egypt,Egyptian Revolution,Ashe Schow

Egypt's government crumbled for the second time in as many years and where was Team Obama as it happened? "Phoning it in" rather than actively anticipating and responding credibly as the crisis unfolded.

President Obama was golfing.

Secretary of State John Kerry was yachting.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was at his office (good on you, Mr. Secretary).

U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson was ??

Obama on Friday (two days after the Egyptian government was turned upside down) went golfing before heading to Camp David for the weekend (probably to recover from his Africa vacation, which he was on during the crisis).

Earlier in the week, Obama had called former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to lecture him on democracy — because if there's one thing Obama, the man who knows something about circumventing democratic institutions like Congress, is well-versed on, it's democracy. The phone call came the night before Obama returned home from his Africa vacation/trip.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry was working hard in the president's stead. Just kidding, he was on a yacht the day Morsi was ousted. The State Department claimed that Kerry was working non-stop on Egypt despite his boating adventure and since he had returned from his Middle East/Asia trip, but the fact that State initially denied Kerry was on the boat seems a little fishy.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Skipper Kerry had made phone calls to U.S. ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson and participated in a National Security Council meeting by phone. A senior State Department official said that none of the calls made by Kerry on Wednesday were from his yacht. Good to know. It should be noted that on Thursday Kerry returned to work with more phone calls, speaking with foreign ministers from Egypt, Norway, Israel and others.

Moe Lane made an excellent point about Kerry's lax involvement on RedState, saying that at least Kerry didn't do anything to make the situation worse.

One member of the Obama administration was at least in town. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke with Egyptian Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi twice during the crisis, according to Pentagon spokesperson George Little. The Pentagon would not disclose the details of that call, however.

No word yet on where U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson was, but she has found herself to be a lightning rod for criticism of U.S. policy in Egypt. She and Obama have both been singled out for supporting Morsi.

No one is saying the administration should have flown out to Egypt, that would have been dangerous, but instead of showing leadership to the American people by remaining actively engaged in the situation in Egypt (or at least showing they were paying attention) Obama and his administration phoned it in from around the world.

As Reuters columnist David Rohde said on Sunday, it was "terrible optics" for the Obama administration to relax while Egypt was in a crisis.

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