Barack Obama – tough guy war president? Kinda seems that way. And his administration is doing little to dispel that image.
Even as the president's approval numbers on domestic issues -- economy, health care, deficit spending -- have plunged, he's getting relatively high marks on foreign policy.
Conservative carping about Obama's need to "apologize" for various offense the United States has perpetrated on the world over the decades hasn't resonated with the general public. And while Obama and his security/defense/foreign policy team appear to want to show a "charm" offensive, they are also getting good at showing a plain old offensive. They never seem to miss an opportunity to show toughness and boast of their ruthlessness.
Note how quickly the White House let it be known that Obama had personally called the "kill" shot on the pirates who had held the U.S. freight ship captain hostage last spring. Is piracy still going on around Somalia? Most likely, but as far as the Obama team is concerned, the president looked tough and not hesitant about ordering the swift and rough justice for some thuggish pirates.
The administration could barely contain its glee over the weekend with the apparent killing of Pakistan Taliban leader Mehsud Baitullah with a U.S. military drone. That evident "big kill" served as an appetizer to Wednesday morning's announced Marine operation on Taliban strongholds – a show of US force prior to next week's presidential election.
The tough attitude extends to security issues on the home front: Just as Obama said that it would be next year at the earliest before any new comprehensive immigration bill would be signed, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano makes clear in a New York Times story Wednesday that the administration is going hard on enforcement of immigration laws. Immigration hard-liners will not likely be impressed by this effort, but the Obama Administration is arguably more aggressive in this area than the Bush administration was.
Barack Obama has arguably modified a tactic of Teddy Roosevelt's: In terms of foreign policy and security, speak diplomatically – but keep that big stick handy.