IT IS hard to see risk-free options for outside intervention in Libya. And as Colonel Muammar Qaddafi closes in on the pro-democracy rebels, Barack Obama, as is his wont, is erring on the side of caution; carefully considering, as he has for weeks, what, if anything, he ought to do. But this prompts a question about the president. Has he, at any point in his presidency so far, demonstrated real political courage? It is surprisingly hard, more than two years in, to think of an unambiguous example.
True, he went to the wire on health reform, but by the time he got round to doing so it would have been even riskier for him to accept defeat than to press forward. He spent nearly $1 trillion on economic stimulus and bailed out the car companies. But although they were controversial he had plenty of support for both decisions, which makes them bold rather than truly brave. If political courage is taking a clear stand against the majority on some gut instinct or principle, it is much easier to list the cases where Mr Obama has chosen discretion over valour.
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