President Obama began his presidency with an outreach to the Muslim world. It may well go down as one of the painful ironies of history that it is now that very world that has Barack Obama paralyzed and flummoxed, seemingly unable to string together a coherent response a mere two years after the euphoria.   The Washington Post notes:

Once again, an Arab dictator is employing criminal violence in a desperate effort to remain in power – and once again, the Obama administration has been slow to find its voice. This time, the tyrant is one of the Middle East’s most evil men – Moammar Gaddafi, whose regime has staged spectacular terrorist attacks against Americans in addition to brutalizing its own people. Having apparently lost control of most of the country, Mr. Gaddafi has unleashed an orgy of bloodshed in the capital, Tripoli, using foreign mercenaries and aircraft to attack his own people. Like Saddam Hussein, he has retreated to a bunker, and he has vowed to fight to “the last drop of blood.”

Calling this “unacceptable” and sending Mrs. Clinton to Geneva to meet with members of the “international community” somehow seems inadequate, doesn’t it? What is amazing is that, when the situation is clear-cut (i.e., Moammar Gaddafi = bad; Mr. Ahmadinejad=bad), the president can’t find anything much to say. But if there are shades of gray (Hosni Mubarak=bad but an American ally), he can find his tongue.

The president seems less a “sort of God” who is “standing above the country” that a man very confused by events. He appeared yesterday afternoon to be calling on the government of Libya to stop the “violence.” Has he not heard that the Libyan “leader” is a thug and terrorist? Oh, yeah, and we aren’t sure there is a government in Libya.

Nile Gardner in the U.K. Telegraph calls the president’s response to Libya “spineless:”

Both Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s remarks today on Libya were distinctly underwhelming and non-confrontational, offering little beyond a carefully worded expression of outrage, except for a pledge to hold yet more meetings with the international community to discuss the Libyan situation. And both failed to even mention the man behind the reign of terror sweeping the country – “Mad Dog” Gaddafi, a ruthless dictator with Libyan, American and British blood on his hands.

This is an historic moment. One of the most brutal, evil and anti-American tyrants of our time is facing a massive popular revolt that is threatening to finally remove him from power after more than four decades as absolute ruler of his country. It is not a time for fence-sitting or navel-gazing from the world’s only superpower. President Obama should be openly calling for Muammar Gaddafi to step aside immediately, and if he doesn’t, face complete international isolation – including comprehensive sanctions, travel bans, the freezing of bank accounts, and a halt to Western investment and trade.

The Libyan people don’t need lofty neutrality from Washington….

Frankly, President Obama makes Jimmy Carter look like General MacArthur by comparison.

President Obama now probably has an inkling that speechifying about the glories of Muslim civilization isn’t going to cut the mustard. But how awful to see this moment, when hope and change are possible, being squandered. This is a historic opportunity. It is not likely to come again in our lifetimes.