Free Markets, Free People

WaPo Offers Obama A Three Week Grade

While it was clear they wanted to write a gushing approval of his first days in office, even WaPo couldn’t quite bring themselves to “suspend disbelief” enough to do that.

I started chuckling at the second sentence:

But the presidency does not come with a magic wand; nor, we have learned, is Mr. Obama, however talented, a wizard.

They’re just “learning” that? My goodness, how in the tank were they?

Second discovery by WaPo:

The president’s admitted mistakes on nominations have served as a reminder that he is, after all, rather new to the game of national politics and the art of balancing the lofty aims of campaign pledges against the real-world demands of governing.

Campaign rhetoric, most remember, which was steadfastly supported (and apparently believed) by the Washington Post. As most of us understood, but WaPo is now discovering, inexperience in national politics has its price.

The narrow and rushed passage of his stimulus package underscored the difficulty of living up to his grand promises of transparency; the campaign trail talk about not cutting deals behind closed doors yielded to the demands of the moment. And if it was this hard for Mr. Obama to lure Republican votes to spend money, how will he manage to entice Republican support to deal with even more contentious issues, such as climate change or health care?

Grand promises of transparancy that were additionally unfulfilled on two pieces of legislation which weren’t rushed – the equal pay and S-CHIP legislation. Neither were delayed the 5 days his campaign had promised voters for them to review the bills prior to signing. Neither required the rush they received. The stimulus bill is just the worst of the bunch.

And while it isn’t necessary to entice Republican support on the more contentious issues in order to pass the bills, such support provides invaluable political cover. Given how badly both Democratic Congressional leaders and Obama handled the bi-partisan effort on the stimulus bill, there’s nothing that says they’ll ever change enough to entice Republicans.

Then there is Timothy Geithner:

The immediate challenge for the new administration, one that is harder and more important than the stimulus measure, will be to bring stability to the nation’s banking system. On that task, “chastening” is a mild word to apply to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner’s debut of the administration’s plan. The president promised that his treasury secretary would offer “very clear and specific plans,” after which Mr. Geithner laid out a blueprint only. The result was to undermine both Mr. Geithner, who is abler than he seemed at the rollout, and the plan, which is more promising than its reception would suggest.

Geithner, the man who was so important to the bailout effort that his tax cheating had to be ignored, has been less than impressive. Perhaps that will change, but to this point, he has done little to inspire confidence either among voters or the financial sector. The WaPo’s declaration that Geithner is “abler than he seemed” has yet to be proved.

WaPo then leavens its criticism with some faint praise, overstating the importance of the first two bills signed. They were simply retreads of bills Democrats had tried to pass during the Bush administration. Unlike what the Post tries to imply, there was no real leadership exercised by Obama or his administration in their passage.

Unfortunately for Mr. Obama and the nation, the current economic situation does not allow for the usual margin of error; fairly or not, he will not be measured against normal historical standards. Sooner rather than later, he will have to find the right balance between reassurance and alarmism; sooner than in past administrations, he needs a full team in place.

Sooner is much preferable to later. Part of the problem we’re experiencing today is the alarmism being spread from the nation’s premier bully pulpit. “Catastrophe” is a word to be used sparingly from that platform and should be reserved for actual catastrophe. After calling for swift action and passage of the bill on Friday and claiming the nation couldn’t wait another hour, we understand now he won’t be signing the bill until Tuesday, a weekend Valentine get-away taking priority. That’s not leadership, and it certainly will cause critics to discount any such future warnings as more fear-mongering.

WaPo then contradicts itself:

Fortunately for the nation, while Mr. Obama has an experience deficit, he possesses a surfeit of smarts and steadiness.

He certainly has an experience deficit, and that is becoming increasingly apparent. However, given his recent penchant for alarmism as discussed in the article, it seems rather contradictory to then laud him for his “smarts and steadiness”. Smart and steady people don’t resort to fear-mongering to drive their agenda. However the unsure and inexperienced do.

WaPo then concludes that things will straighten out, and the nation’s optimism in Obama will be rewarded and, now that he has lowered expectations (through his alarmism), will patiently wait the years, not months, necessary to see the recession through. I find that to be mostly wishful thinking.

All totaled, the Washington Post, to use a phrase that has become rather trite in the last year, is trying to put lipstick on a pig. Following a WaPo article touting the passage of the massive pork laden spending bill as a “victory of historic proportion“, it stands to reason they’d try to double down on their presidential bet, hoping it all works out as they’ve imagined it will. But by their own words, the dream isn’t off to a good start.


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12 Responses to WaPo Offers Obama A Three Week Grade

  • No President, neither Democrat or Republican, get points for “outsourcing” a major piece of legislation the way Obama did on the “stimulus” with Pelosi and Reid.  This was, at best, a victory of process over substance.  A very hallow victory that will do little to enhance his “politcal capital” position.
    Obama has laid bare the swallowness of his many campaign promises.

    Meanwhile …

    Sixty-six percent (66%) of adults are at least somewhat worried that the U.S. government will run out of money with all the demands being put on the Treasury, including 34% who are Very Worried.

    .. the massive spending spree is begining to take a toll. With an additional “stimulus” being slated for next year (in time to buy the election), you really have to wonder when the Chinese will decide that they won’t finance Mr. Obama any more.

  • The president promised that his treasury secretary would offer “very clear and specific plans,” after which Mr. Geithner laid out a blueprint only.

    Is this a standard usage of the word “blueprint”?  I thought a blueprint was a “very clear and specific” plan, as opposed to, say, an outline.

    • A blueprint does not normally included implementation details. It may tell you how many rooms the house has, but it doesn’t tell you when it gets built or who is doing the construction. I think that’s the sense in which WaPo is that metaphor.

      Or they could just be lazy copywriters. I could accept either explanation.

  • The WaPo could have saved several inches of print (and perhaps a few trees) and merely written:

    “Our Hero, Mr. Obama, has had a rocky start.  But he’s a genius, so everything will be OK.”

    The bit about Geithner was particularly amusing.  “Mr. Geithner, who is abler than he seemed at the rollout…” This is the man who couldn’t figure out how to pay his taxes.  He sat at the Fed in NYC while the meltdown was heating up and did… nothing.  What, exactly, makes him “abler than he seems”???

    • [quote]What, exactly, makes him “abler than he seems”???[/quote]

      Well … at this point it might be hard for him to be less able than he seems.

  • “he is, after all, rather new to the game of national politics”

    Which, of course, made him the perfect person to be President of The United States!

  • If Obama ever stops suddenly, the WaPo press will disappear right up his *ss.

  • Whatever Obama has or has not done is Ok with me….It’s why I voted for him.

  • WaPo then concludes that things will straighten out, and the nation’s optimism in Obama will be rewarded and, now that he has lowered expectations (through his alarmism), will patiently wait the years, not months, necessary to see the recession through.


    He may…….but the voters may have their own say about it.

  • While I understand the sentiment, 66% of people are wrong, because the US government can simply print money if it needs more.

    I think this will definitely be the case as we have more debtors than creditors….and inflation helps those who borrowed. Not to mention the politicians like it too….until the final bill comes.

    • Don’t worry–China’s got our back.  For now.  Think the economy is broken?  Wait ’till they really break the world’s economy.

      Then they’ll be begging for socialism.

      All part of the plan.