The New York Times magazine interviewed Rep. Allen West (R-FL) last week and asked West if he considers President Obama to be “a good leader.” “Not really,” West replied. The Florida congressman then went on to explain his reasoning — that Obama is weak because his recent trip to Afghanistan was shrouded in secrecy:
NYT: Do you think those in the military respect him?
WEST: I don’t know, you gotta ask guys in the military, but I will tell you this: I think that going in in the middle of the night doesn’t show leadership.
NYT: Are you referring to that recent three-hour trip to a base in Afghanistan? He needs to consider his own safety, doesn’t he?
WEST: Leaders lead by example, and if I’m asking my young men and women to go out there and put their lives on the line, I should be willing and able to do the exact same thing. As I told my soldiers when I was commander in Iraqin 2003, the most expendable person in our battalion was me.
So it seems as if West thinks that, in order for Obama to be deemed a good leader, he either needs to fly into a battlefield in Afghanistan during broad daylight or perhaps even pick up a rifle and join the fight.
Obama did make a surprise visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan last month, but he didn’t arrive “in the middle of the night” as West claimed. But Obama is, of course, the President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military, thus his trip was indeed “wrapped in a tight cocoon of secrecy and security,” as were recent visits to Afghanistan by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus’ trip to Pakistan last year.
As the Times noted, President Bush traveled to Iraq under a veil of secrecy to visit troops for Thanksgiving in 2003 and made three other visits to Iraq and Afghanistan throughout his presidency that weren’t broadcast to the public for security reasons. When asked about Bush’s secret trips, West dodged. “I’m not saying that’s right, either,” adding, “I’m saying that my understanding of leadership is a little bit different. Leadership is about being a servant first.”