Unfortunately, this is from Politico, so no shortage of the usual disrespectful language towards PBO, but even that can’t hide the stunning ability of this man to multi-task whatever you throw at him, and still remain his usual nicest man in the world.
BRASILIA—Ordering a major military strike is a daunting task for any American president. Doing it between diplomatic and economic meetings in a foreign capital over 4,000 miles from Washington is even more complex.
President Barack Obama faced that situation Saturday as he juggled the pageantry and substance attendant to his first South American visit with urgent phone calls and top-level national security consultations about a pending joint aerial assault against Libya.
Before touching down in Brazil, according to the White House, Obama got an important intelligence briefing on Air Force One: forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi were advancing on the opposition-held city of Benghazi despite a United Nations resolution allowing use of force to stop it — and the regime’s own dubious claims that they had halted action against the rebels.
After striding down the stairs of the presidential aircraft with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha, Obama headed to his quarters in a Brasilia hotel, where he received another briefing and spoke briefly with the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, the White House said. Then, it was on to review the ceremonial guard at the Brazilian presidential palace and meet with President Dilma Vana Rousseff.
A joint statement with Rousseff, however, fell more than an hour behind schedule — largely because Obama took a secure call about the Libyan situation with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also on the call, briefed the group about international talks she attended in Paris Saturday about enforcing the U.N. resolution.
“At every juncture where it was necessary for the president to engage in discussions with his national security team….we’ve carved out that time,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told White House reporters during a conference call Saturday evening. “We’ve pushed back our schedule on multiple occasions today because the president wanted to make sure he had time be fully briefed up and pass his guidance on to the team.”
After the first fusillade of U.S. cruise missiles slammed into Libyan air defense installations just after 3 P.M. Eastern time, Obama headed to a scheduled meeting with Brazilian business executives. But he also managed to squeeze in an unscheduled statement to the media about the attack.
Here’s a mishmash of photos from yesterday. Mouse-over for description.