COMMENTARY | President Barack Obama told Russian President Dmitri Medvedev how Obama would have "more flexibility" over issues like the missile defense program after the election but that incoming President Vladimir Putin needed to give him more space, according to ABC News. It was said at the end of a meeting between the leaders when both believed the microphones had been turned off. This is not the first time the president was stuck by a microphone he believed was turned off. He needs to learn how to protect his private messages.
You might remember how a microphone trapped President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in November. The leaders believed the microphones were turned off when Sarkozy professed his disbelief of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called him a liar. President Obama responded by pointing out how he has it worse since he has to work with the embattled prime minster on a closer basis. I am shocked the president did not learn his lesson after the international political backlash over his first microphone incident. What does it say about a president who can be burned by the same mistake within a short period of time?
I am sure many articles will come out over the next few days blasting President Obama for saying he would have more "flexibility" after the election. The articles will explore the dangerous connotations coming to mind when thinking about flexibility with tender international issues. As a political scientist, I see more importance behind the idea of a president who forgets to make sure his microphone is turned off. Keeping secrets is as much of an issue for the president as it is for the lowest member of the military or an entry-level worker at the FBI.
For me, it comes down to being able to trust the president with keeping secrets secure. While President Obama's meeting with President Medvedev was public, our president wanted to make a private statement and could not take the few seconds need to ensure his microphone was turned off. If he cannot take the needed steps to keep his own secrets secure, how can we trust him with the secrets of the nation? How can we vote in a man who might make dangerous mistakes with the secrets needed to keep us safe?