It's Not The Dispassion, It's The Haste

FOX news was on in the background of a family visit last night, its reporters and commentators hyperventilating over President Obama's allegedly dispassionate response to the downing of the Malaysian airliner.

Here's Charles Krauthammer for instance:
The only way to explain the unbelievable passive nature of his speech today…there was no passion there was no interest in this. And I think if you want to explain it rationally, maybe he thinks the U.S. doesn't have to do anything,
Hmm. Far be it from me to defend this amateurish President, but is this criticism fair or wise?

Three observations.

1) I didn't hear anyone propose a concrete policy the President should be pursuing yet isn't.

2) Is it the President's job to emote over national and international tragedies, or to be a calming presence? I don't find his remarks or affect dispassionate necessarily, though I understand why some would. I think an argument can be made he's trying to be level-headed. Since we don't yet have clear facts, great moral outrage would be wasted since there would be no one concrete at whom to direct it.  His address seemed alright to me given what we know so far.

3) Compare Obama's remarks with those of President Reagan after the Soviets downed KAL-007. Reagan's reaction is definitely superior -- he lays out the facts and makes the moral case against our enemies and has the appropriate passion--  but he also has the advantage of working from facts rather than conjecture -- perhaps because he gave his speech to the nation four days after the event and not the following morning.

If there's a criticism to be made of the President's remarks, perhaps it's that he squandered his ability to say anything meaningful by commenting prematurely. He suffers from his generation's belief that one must always be commenting, whether or not one has anything to say.