Saturday, July 2, 2011

Unpresident Obama

The reviews are in and they aren’t good. A normally supportive Mark Halperin called President Obama a “dick.”

Lee Siegel felt compelled to offer a lesson in elementary leadership: if you belittle your opponents by comparing them to petulant children they are not going to be able to negotiate with you.

Strip someone of his dignity by demeaning him and his normal human pride will prevent him from negotiating with you.

Now, John Hinderaker of the Powerline blog offers the most damning analysis.

Hinderaker calls it a failure to lead, and that is surely true. He also calls it a failure to take responsibility, and that feels closer to the truth.

Yet, there is more to it. There is a strange disconnect, between Obama’s words and his actions. Hinderaker shows clearly that the man who was conducting the press conference was acting as though someone else had been president for these last 30 months. It doesn't inspire confidence.

Either Obama does not know that he is the president or else he believes that he can trick you into forgetting that he is in charge.

When there is no correlation between words and deeds, when someone’s words pretend that his deeds are not his, we are facing a strange disconnect.

A president who acts as though he is not the president sows confusion and undermines confidence in his leadership abilities.

We know that Obama has attracted a band of media enablers to help him out, but still, the more you think about it, the more he looks like an outright fraud. Or better, since Obama does not act like he is the president, perhaps we can call him Unpresident Obama.

The evidence, as Hinderaker lays it out, is clear and compelling, almost frighteningly so.

In his press conference Obama declared that his administration is working to ease the burden of business-killing regulation.

This while his administration has been handing down more and more onerous regulations. An administration that signed the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill and that is about to hit the health care industry with an avalanche of regulations should not, if it has a modicum of dignity, talk about how it wants to ease the burden of regulation.

Obama also presented himself as a champion of free trade agreements.

As it happens, these same agreements were negotiated years ago, by the Bush administration. They have been languishing because Congressional Democrats are beholden to union bosses who oppose them.

It’s not just that Obama has been absent on free trade, but his absence counts as active obstruction.

And then, Obama proclaimed that both political parties should immediately go to work on reducing the deficit. Given that House Republicans have already passed a budget, Obama held them up for special derision.

As Hineraker adds, if you consider how much Obama’s administration, in conjunction with Congressional Democrats, has added to the national debt-- over $4 trillion and counting-- a president with a sliver of modesty would recognize that he cannot claim to be the champion of deficit reduction.

As for budget proposal that Obama offered, it was so dishonest that not one United States senator, Republican or Democrat, voted for it.

And then there was Obama’s effort to pass off class warfare as fiscal policy. After explaining how he is the champion of business, Obama recommended that we balance the budget by increasing taxes on corporate jets, the rich, oil companies, and hedge fund managers.

Yet, Hinderaker points out, Obama’s the 2009 stimulus bill reduced the taxes on corporate jets... the better to stimulate airplane manufacturing.

We could continue, but we would arrive at Hinderaker’s conclusion: Obama simply does not know what he is talking about. He makes it up as he goes along.

Hinderaker calls it a “typical exercise in evasion of responsibility,” and he is surely correct. I assume that he means that this is “typical” for Obama. Among real leaders it is anything but typical.

Perhaps Obama does not know who he is, to the point that he cannot even pretend to be in charge. Otherwise, he is betting his political future on the chance that he can fool the American public again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Basically he was not ready to lead from day one, contrary to what he (and his lovers) said. Remember there was talk of GWB leaving early so Obama could come to the rescue. Thank God that didn't happen.

If you follow him closely, he contradicts himself all the time and is basically incoherent. He always has, it is just that he has a record now, and is sensitive to criticism.

I would guess Haleprin said out loud only a small sample of what is being said in private, even among the friendly press.