Free Markets, Free People

The Honeymoon Is Definitely Over

Yesterday I mentioned Paul Krugman’s trashing of the Geithner plan, now the NYT op-ed page triumvirate of MoDo, Thomas Friedman and Frank Rich take a few shots as well.

Friedman tried mightily to temper his criticism by claiming the that GOP was using this horrible crisis as an opportunity for partisan bashing.

We’re in a once-a-century financial crisis, and yet we’ve actually descended into politics worse than usual. There don’t seem to be any adults at the top — nobody acting larger than the moment, nobody being impelled by anything deeper than the last news cycle. Instead, Congress is slapping together punitive tax laws overnight like some Banana Republic, our president is getting in trouble cracking jokes on Jay Leno comparing his bowling skills to a Special Olympian, and the opposition party is behaving as if its only priority is to deflate President Obama’s popularity.

Interesting. Friedman was no where in sight, of course, when Democrats were engaged in precisely what he accuses the Republicans of doing during the war in Iraq. As with many on the left, apparently history started on January 20th of this year.

OTOH, deflating Obama’s popularity is politically important to the GOP, because anyone who watches politics knows full well that Obama plans to trade on his popularity to pass the economy killing legislation he want to see passed. This ain’t bean bag, Mr. Friedman.

Frank Rich likens this crisis to “Bush’s Katrina moment”:

A charming visit with Jay Leno won’t fix it. A 90 percent tax on bankers’ bonuses won’t fix it. Firing Timothy Geithner won’t fix it. Unless and until Barack Obama addresses the full depth of Americans’ anger with his full arsenal of policy smarts and political gifts, his presidency and, worse, our economy will be paralyzed. It would be foolish to dismiss as hyperbole the stark warning delivered by Paulette Altmaier of Cupertino, Calif., in a letter to the editor published by The Times last week: “President Obama may not realize it yet, but his Katrina moment has arrived.”

Rich implies that Obama doesn’t recognize the depth of political risk this crisis carries for him. And I agree. Obama, it appears, thinks he can lay this all off on “inherited” problems. But he can’t. It’s his now. While it may have been right to say New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco were the real reason Katrina was a fiasco, that’s not who much of the public ended up blaming. Bush too seemed not to understand the depth and breadth of the anger (whether right or not) that Katrina spawned. Obama seems even less aware of the risk, jetting around the country having moved on to defending his budget and appearing on comedy shows while the financial crisis lingers and deepens. As I’ve said a number of times on this blog, it is all about leadership, or the lack thereof. In reality, it is the “lack thereof” on which both Rich and Friedman are actually commenting.

Maureen Dowd wonders if, after watching Michelle Obama talk about the White House garden, perhaps the wrong Obama is in the Oval Office.  She then let’s the male Obama have it with both barrels:

It’s a time in America’s history where we need less smooth jazz and more martial brass.

Barack Obama prides himself on consensus, soothing warring sides into agreement. But the fury directed at the robber barons by the robbed blind in America has been getting hotter, not cooler. And that’s because the president and his Treasury secretary have been coddling the Wall Street elite, fretting that if they curtail executives’ pay and perks too much, if they make the negotiations with those who siphoned our 401(k)’s too tough, the spoiled Sherman McCoys will run away, the rescue plan will fail and the markets will wither. (Now that Mr. Obama has made $8,605,429 on his books — including $500,000 for letting his memoir be condensed into a kids’ book — maybe he’s lost touch with his hole-in-the-shoe, hole-in-the-Datsun, have-not roots.)

Despite all the appeals to class warfare, what is at the base of her criticism?

Lack. Of. Leadership.

The nation elected someone who has never once been in a position in which he had to lead. Mr. Obama is a charmer and someone who knows what to say to please his audiences. But he’s never had to translate what he says into action. He’s never had to really take full ownership of his agenda, at whatever level, and implement it. He has never had to ‘make it happen’.

Where does one learn to do those sorts of things? From experience. Take a new lieutenant and make him a battalion commander and I can promise one poorly led battalion which will fail at its first leadership test. That’s because the LT isn’t a leader yet. He first had to serve as a platoon leader and learn leadership skills. Then if he does well there and is advanced in rank, he’ll eventually get a chance to become a company commander and fine tune those skills with a larger organization. Again, if he shines and is further advanced in rank and responsibility, he may get a shot at a battalion command. But he will first prove himself to everyone’s satisfaction at the lower level leadership positions before he is even considered for that job.

Anyone – what lower level position held by Barack Obama did he demonstrate the leadership necessary to do the job he now holds? Why is charm more important politically than experience and leadership abilities?

Apparently Krugman, Dowd, Rich and Friedman are suddenly discovering what many of us have understood from the beginning – Obama is completely unqualified for the job he holds.

Unfortunately for all of us, if ever there was a worst time for such a man to be President of the United States, this is probably it.


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12 Responses to The Honeymoon Is Definitely Over

  • McQ writes: “Unfortunately for all of us, if ever there was a worst time for such a man to be President of the United States, this is probably it.”

    There’s an implicit assumption of incompetence in that, I think. I regret to say that I’ve abandoned the “incompetence” model for the “movement socialist” model.

    I think bad is good for this president, and that he’ll be only too happy to play the bad, whichever direction it comes from, for everything it’s worth, and that he doesn’t much care about ordinary measures of performance. He has what are effectively socialist majorities in both houses of Congress, for the next two years, and I think that by the time he’s completed his bidding war with them that the concrete foundation of a new and very rotten society will be dry, and good and hard.

    Obama probably could care less about Krugman, Friedman, Dowd, or Rich. He’ll see that they are properly whipped by the movement until they repent, and if they don’t repent he still won’t care.

    Obama isn’t going to waste four years of hard presidential power trying to perform up to any silly standards. This is a new kind of presidency. And the worse things get, the more he’ll be loved and needed by the millions of people who vote early and often. He’ll stake his political future on their devotion, his brass balls and that incomparable ability to talk himself out of his own business.

    • I don’t think that’s the plan. No matter what Obama wants to do, he’s going to need political capital to do it. If he gets slapped with the “incompetent” label, rightly or wrongly, then he’s going to have no political capital to push through his agenda.

      He needs to at least patch up the economy. Step one of redistributing wealth is making sure there is wealth to redistribute. There will be no national health care plan without political capital and a functioning economy.

      If he doesn’t change course, the Republicans are going to run in 2010 on a platform of undoing the Stimulus, and win… unless the Democrats beat them to it!

      • I hear ya, Jeremy. Roosevelt’s policies kept the country in the Depression, prolonging it for, arguably, his first two terms. He was elected four times. And that was perhaps a more innocent country, but not nearly as infantilized as the one we live in now.
        Obama is not interested, in my opinion, in anything other than increasing the dependency of the American people on his government, his regime. The major damage will be done by 2010, and by that time the media and the Democratic machine might well be ready to undress the Republicans, spin them around, and give them a good buggering. It’s a long time, and while Obama, I don’t think, is even interested in this so-called “competence” thing, he will have formidable electoral armies on call. There’s no chance in hell that black voters will turn on him. (Have they turned on Maxine Waters?) And all he’ll have to do is hold back an electoral tide, and not let Republicans take back the House. They might have better luck in the Senate, but maybe not. Maybe they’ll even do worse. But no matter: this is a different political paradigm than “competence.” That was a paradigm useful for framing Republicans.
        Now we’re looking at a cult of personality.

  • Could it be that Obama not only doesn’t care less, but he’s actively trying to destroy our economy?  Too many, it seems to me, want to give him the “incompetent” label, or talk about his lack of experience.  But could it be that a man raised to hate capitalism, the West, whites (yes, whites..he sat in the white-hating church of Rev Wright for 20 years!) is trying to destroy us from within?  I know, I know, conspiracy-theory stuff…but is it possible?  He palavers with tyrants and denigrates allies.  He has made, from what I can tell, not one single competent move in office…could he really be just that STUPID?  The remark about the stock market, where he said he didn’t pay attention to it…while there was and is massive wealth destruction of the MIDDLE CLASS….is this just merely incompetence, or is Obama purposefully letting things go to hell?  Could he be just like Bill Ayers, only doing the destruction in a much more clever and enormous way?  Just askin’…

  • Incompetent or Fiendishly Malevolent?

    Why not both?

    • It is absolutely both.

      But those are just two of the qualities of movement socialism.

      It is never competent; it is by definition incompetent. And it doesn’t care or even notice. It is merely driven on.

      It is by necessity malevolent as well, but it doesn’t care. Where in history has it ever cared? In Cuba? In Ethiopia? In North Korea?

      As for fiendishness, I’d keep my eye on the clock, not the calendar, for that part.

  • I am seeing all sorts of people slowly come to the realize that they elected a huge freakin’ lemon.

    The retard doesn’t even know the current president of France is.

    Not only that but friendlies are starting to realize that this guy is utterly useless.

    His remarks came in a “60 Minutes” interview in which he was pressed by an incredulous Steve Kroft for laughing and chuckling several times while discussing the perilous state of the world’s economy.

    “You’re sitting here. And you’re— you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, ‘I mean, he’s sitting there just making jokes about money—’ How do you deal with— I mean: explain. . .” Kroft asks at one point.

    “Are you punch-drunk?” Kroft says

    Maybe just plain drunk.


    • Thanks for the Politico link.  So, he was chuckling while talking about the sorry state of the economy, eh?  Just imagine the firestorm if Bush had indulged in a little “gallows humor” about Katrina.

      Yet, Politico did their best to give him a pass:

      Even his awkward laughter highlighted an issue Obama has faced dating back to the campaign, a sense that he sometimes is too “cool” and detached to fully grasp the public anxiety over mounting job losses and economic worries.

      For “too cool and detached”, substitute “too stupid and uncaring.”
      But what else can we expect from a democrat (spit)?  Remember when those two pieces of democrat scum were caught on tape chuckling about another hurrican hitting New Orleans duing the GOP convention?  DEMOCRATS (spit) LIKE IT WHEN AMERICANS SUFFER.  So, TAO was chuckling because he’s “punch drunk”.  He wasn’t chuckling because he’s indulging in “gallows humor”.  He was chuckling because we are suffering, and democrats (spit) think that’s a Good Thing (TM).

  • I’m sure Obama expects the “guys with the zebra-stripped shirts” to come in and save him.

  • Political flubs can be equalized by political stunts.

    Poor performance can be exorcised within the cult of personality.

    Historical failure can be neutralized by historical stunts.

    Always recall the face of Harry Reid on the floor of the U.S. Senate, as majority leader, declaring the war in Iraq lost while our brilliant troops were already engineering a victory. What happened to Reid? Nothing. Take that and multiply it by 25, and that’s the size of the obstacle in place to stopping Obama, at least between now and 2010. And by 2010 this place may not look at all like it looks now. The political equipment that we see now and take for granted might have been to the crusher and through the recycling plant by then, and no one on what might be loosely described as our side of the argument will be able to get anywhere near it. But if we did get anywhere near it, it might require in any case a full compromise of principles (as opposed to the usual 50% compromise), and what will that bring?

  • This ain’t bean bag, Mr. Friedman.

    Are you sure?  It seems like there is some cornholing to come real soon.