Free Markets, Free People

Is Obama In Over His Head?

For those of us who predicted that, we may as well keep quiet because when we pointed out all the reasons Barack Obama wasn’t qualified for the presidency, we were waved off as people not understanding his exceptionalism.

Barack Obama was the one guy who didn’t need the seasoning or experience most would deem critical for such a position. Barack Obama was unique among men because he didn’t need to have “run” anything, or, for that matter have “done” anything. A stint as a community organizer, a short time as a state Senator and an even shorter one as a US Senator were all this fellow needed to pick up the reigns of the presidency and lead brilliantly his sycophants said. As for leadership, he was the editor of the Harvard Law Review, you know – even if he himself never published a thing.

Pointing that out was simply a waste of time given the reaction of his followers. They were positive none of that mattered and, many still maintain that posture today. But some of those he wooed overseas are starting to take a more objective look at the man and they’re not particularly thrilled with what they see:

Regimes in Moscow, Pyongyang and Tehran simply pocket his concessions and carry on as before. The picture emerging from the White House is a disturbing one, of timidity, clumsiness and short-term calculation. Some say he is the weakest president since Jimmy Carter.

The grizzled veterans of the Democratic leadership in Congress have found Mr Obama and his team of bright young advisers a pushover. That has gravely weakened his flagship domestic campaign, for health-care reform, which fails to address the greatest weakness of the American system: its inflated costs. His free trade credentials are increasingly tarnished too. His latest blunder is imposing tariffs on tyre imports from China, in the hope of gaining a little more union support for health care. But at a time when America’s leadership in global economic matters has never been more vital, that is a dreadful move, hugely undermining its ability to stop other countries engaging in a ruinous spiral of protectionism.

Even good moves are ruined by bad presentation. Changing Mr Bush’s costly and untried missile-defence scheme for something workable was sensible. But offensively casual treatment of east European allies such as Poland made it easy for his critics to portray it as naïve appeasement of the regime in Moscow.

I disagree on some of the particulars of Edward Lucas’ assessment but not the overall point – lack of leadership and lack of experience equal weak and clumsy foreign policy and disastrous domestic policy. The only reason I can’t at this point say “disastrous” in terms of foreign policy is the foreign policy disaster just hasn’t happened yet. But it will.

Lucas concluded:

Mr Obama’s public image rests increasingly heavily on his extraordinary speechifying abilities. His call in Cairo for a new start in relations with the Muslim world was pitch-perfect. So was his speech in Ghana, decrying Africa’s culture of bad government. His appeal to both houses of Congress to support health care was masterly – though the oratory was far more impressive than the mish-mash plan behind it. This morning he is blitzing the airwaves, giving interviews to all America’s main television stations.

But for what? Mr Obama has tactics a plenty – calm and patient engagement with unpleasant regimes, finding common interests, appealing to shared values – but where is the strategy? What, exactly, did “Change you can believe in” – the hallmark slogan of his campaign – actually mean?

The President’s domestic critics who accuse him of being the sinister wielder of a socialist master-plan are wide of the mark. The man who has run nothing more demanding than the Harvard Law Review is beginning to look out of his depth in the world’s top job. His credibility is seeping away, and it will require concrete achievements rather than more soaring oratory to recover it.

The unplesant conclusion Mr. Lucas has reached is the Obama critics were right – they’re “just words” with nothing there to back them up. The speeches are rhetorically pleasing, well delivered and substantive. But he’s never, ever had to really apply them in any concrete way during his short political career. They’ve been his passport from job to job. He has no record of substantive legislation, no legacy of hard work or leadership. He’s proving to be what every one of the critics said he was – a face man. An empty suit with one sterling ability – delivering a speech. But other than that, there’s just not much there.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

38 Responses to Is Obama In Over His Head?

  • Paraphrasing Bernard Lewis, Obama’s solution to the problems of Obama is always more Obama.

  • Obama’s supposed mastery of public speaking remains a mystery to me. Most of what I hear is platitudes and politician’s promises; with a good deal of calling the other fellow wrong without saying why he’s wrong.

    It occurred to me last week when criticism of Obama was deemed racist, that perhaps Obama has come this far without receiving helpful constructive criticism. Perhaps out of fear of being “racist.”

    Most of us, if we’re lucky, have had a mentor, coach, friend or boss who told us an unpleasant truth about ourselves. It may have stung when we heard it, but, if we paid attention and worked at it, we emerged with stronger skills or reduced character flaws.

    I wonder then, as I listen to Obama, if his close associates have failed to provide him this gift. It would not surprise me if it is so.

    • Agree, I’m waiting to hear one of these masterful speeches. The guy opens his mouth, turns his eyes to read the teleprompter, and sounds like a car salesman. Nothing more. That someone can claim the Cairo speech was great, or that the latest appeal to the House and Senate were masterful must like to hear Obama’s voice and perhaps that sends chills up some part of his body. I haven’t heard a single great speech from the guy. Maybe I’m not inspired because I know he’s a mobile can of spam in the first place.

    • As I said some time ago, he isn’t eloquent, he just sounds white. All the passion and rhetorical flourishes of a CFO at the annual stockholders meeting. Jesse Jackson, for example, would eat his lunch if he had had the benefits of an Ivy League education. Even W gives as good a speech on a good day.

      • I have to respectfully disagree with McQ on the “sunstantive” part of his assessment. The commenters are right. Obama has never done anything but speak in either vague gneralities or big picture goals with no specifics as to how to achieve those goals. He has never been forced to make a decision and follow through on it. His brief career as a legislator merely involved giving speeches and casting a vote (sometimes).

        I am sorry, but Obama’s appeal is directly related to racism. It is his white liberal supporters who are enamored with a black man who is, to quote Joe Biden, “bright, clean and articulate”. I’ve lived and worked in Hollywood for 17 years. I have lived in a toxic stew of liberalism that whole time and I have been truly amazed at the attitudes of supposedly enlightened, NY/LA sophisticates. They truly believe that black people are inferior and that they can only get by with the aid of white liberals and their paternalistic, social agenda. White liberals give Obama so much credit because they have such low expectations for black people. They don’t really believe he is so superior, they just think he is superior for a black guy. If you don’t believe me, just look at a liberal insitution like Hollywood. Do you know how many black people have positions of influence (or any positions at all) at studios, networks, major talent agencies or production companies. None. There are a few entrepreneurs like Tyler Perry and a few show runners like Shonda Grimes (“Grey’s Anatomy”) but they are on the creative end of the business and they are the exception that proves the rule.

        Obama’s appeal is the epitome of the “soft bigotry of low expectations” held by liberals.

  • Pointing that out was simply a waste of time given the reaction of his followers. They were positive none of that mattered and, many still maintain that posture today.

    This is a key point. Many people who voted for this arrogant fool are starting to regret that decision (and I think “regret” will quickly turn to “feel shame and horror” before too much longer!), but there is a hard core of lefty morons who continue to belivee in The Annointed One. Why?


    Their only complaint is that he isn’t going far enough, fast enough, that he’s allowing us nasty ol’ racist right-wingers to impede the march to a socialist utopia. Consider:

    His free trade credentials are increasingly tarnished too.

    Lefties have NEVER liked “free trade” because, in their view, it undermines that key pillar of the proletariate, unions. Additionally, they fervently believe that GOVERNMENT should make such decisions; free trade is too uncontrollable for their despotic tastes. Further, “free trade” in their minds translates into rich countries raping poor ones, taking advantage of cheap (“slave”) labor. Finally, they view a modern, technologically sophisticated, consumer-driven society as an outright threat to Mother Earth.

    … at a time when America’s leadership in global economic matters has never been more vital…

    Lefties HATE the idea of American leadership in much of anything. They hate the idea that we are a superpower because, in their minds, that translates to America trampling on the poor (brown and black) people of the world. American economic leadership conjurs images of fat, white Wall Street bankers selling arms and enslaving poor people all over the world. Lefties can’t stand that.

    … offensively casual treatment of east European allies such as Poland made it easy for his critics to portray it as naïve appeasement of the regime in Moscow.

    Well! Those “east European allies” had it coming! First, they were paid to participate in Bush’s illegal war in Iraq. Second, the clearly want to help us stifle the home of the socialist hope, Russia. Finally, we can’t be the world’s policeman, protecting every country that comes crawling to us. After all, what have the eastern Europeans to be worried about, anyway?

    As for the rest of Lucas’ article, it reads like the whining of a jilted lover. Who outside the left thinks that TAO’s speech in Cairo was “pitch-perfect”, or that anybody outside the left took his Ghana speech seriously? For that matter, his speech to the joint session of Congress was riddled with (ahem) misstatements and half-truths, reducing him from President of the United States to little more than a world-class con artist.

    TAO is most assuredly in over his head. This isn’t surprising or even an especially bad thing: POTUS is the hardest job in the world, there is NO training for it, and mistakes are to be expected. However, his “mistakes” show such a pattern that the only conclusion is that they are NOT mistakes but part of a deliberate policy that, at the very least, is based on a twisted understanding of the world and, at worst, in deliberately intended to shame and undermine our country.

  • This is begging for an Ott Scerb response.

    Obama strikes me as the realistic version of the Hollywood movie where some good-natured everyman winds up in a position of power (CEO of a large corporation, congressional seat, even the Presidency). The entrenched elites are disdainful of “little people” and dismissive of this intrusive bumpkin. But the bumpkin, who appears to be way out of his league, begins to apply “common sense” solutions to intractable political problems, and Gordian knots begin to melt away at his homey touch. He wins the day and shows us that the key to governing is an endearing and aloof flippancy.

    Obama may very well be sitting in the Oval Office and wondering where he went wrong. After all, it worked for Jimmy Stewart, didn’t it?

  • While at Brandeis in the 70s, I had a roommate whose father had been an ambassador to the US from Ethiopia. He had gone to a private school in the US and, he said, he’d gone to Cambridge for a time. I proofread his term papers. They were totally unintelligible. He got A’s on all of them. I’m guessing the President’s experience was similar.

  • Read: people who disagree with Obama’s positions want to claim that this means he’s in over his head. He’s doing what a leader does: ignores the right and cuts a pointless missile defense system in favor of something better (as Secretary Clinton has explained). He ignores the left and courts Senator Snowe, willing to get a health care proposal that has broader support rather than fighting a purely partisan war. The GOP is the side saying “no way” and refusing to cooperate. Obama is trying, despite heat from his left wing. Steady, focused and determined, Obama is weathering a lot of crap being thrown at him by a GOP determined to go on all out offensive, and doing so in ways that both Reagan in 1981 and Clinton in 1993 would have envied. Watch and learn.

    • ‘Obama is weathering a lot of crap being thrown at him by a GOP determined to go on all out offensive, and doing so in ways that both Reagan in 1981 and Clinton in 1993 would have envied. Watch and learn.’

      The Democrats have both the House and Senate and he can’t even get one turncoat Republican onboard. Geez. Not even f*cking close.

      I hope that’s a script. If it is, then drop script dude and wing it. The talking points are making you look foolish beyond compare.

      • Look, Obama will ram something through if he has to. If he can get Snowe and a few others to look at this as a policy issue rather than a political game, he still could get a bi-partisan bill. The Jihadists in both parties won’t be happy, but their ideology-driven approach to politics is poison for the polity. Ideology is in fact a poison. Let’s hope the pragmatists win.

    • Scott, you are a joke. Snowe shot down the public option right after Zero gave a speech demanding it.

      As far as missle defense, the fact alone that W’s plan got the Russian’s panties in a buch tells you quite a bit. Even if it made sense to change the plan, a smart pres would have made the Russians negotiate for it, and also gotten something for our East European friends out of the deal. Even if you were right that the Poles and Czechs don’t matter, walking out on something like that and letting your friends hand out to dry is stupid.

      Zero is a joke Scott. And so are you.

      • Cold war is over, Don, the Russians aren’t a threat.

        NY Times has a good piece today on Obama and Snowe’s relationship. She’s a solid Republican who still realizes that politics is about compromise and pragmatism, not some kind of irrational ideology that seems to be driving a lot of people on the extremes of both parties. Obama and Snowe are both pragmatists trying to find some common sense middle ground.

        • The cold war WAS over but unfortunately, the big zero is startign it all over again.

          • Russia is too weak. Europe is not afraid of Russia, but wants to incorporate it into its economic and political fold (not as an EU member, but with closer ties). Russia and China are also trying to figure out how to work together. None of them need the US, even China is diversifying its markets. It’s a whole different situation than the Cold War, and in fact a Cold War mentality will lead to policy failure.

        • Two things you have never quite had a grip on, Scott:

          1. The Cold War

          2. international politics

          Oh, make that three:

          3. the power of the free market to create goods, services, wealth, and reasonably priced insurance. Congress doesn’t understand it either, so you’re in with bad company.

        • She’s a solid Republican

          Um, except for the fact that she votes MORE often with the democrats than with the republicans. Seriously. But other than her voting record, she’s a solid republican!

          Does Erb ever have a grasp of the actual facts?

          • She’s a real Republican. I was state Secretary to the South Dakota College Republicans and was at the 1980 Detroit convention that nominated Reagan. I was on the floor of the convention center when Reagan was nominated. My views today are similar to what they were then. But the GOP has moved far to the right, and has abandoned the traditional Republican concerns. The far right in the US now is dangerous and must be stopped. Pragmatic conservatism should win out.

          • My views today are similar to what they were then.

            Let’s see…

            You talk about how great and prophetic Carter was at every opportunity.
            You blame Reagan and his policies for our current economic problems.
            But your views today are similar to 1980.


            Does the BS ever stop, or do you actually believe this crap?

          • When a percussive hammer is struck against Scott’s copper pot the sound you get always indicates a false bottom.

            It’s either (1) something missing with its absence concealed in the characterological sense or (2) a profound need to deceive in the service of something that could loosely be called an idea or ideas or (3) both.

            I’ll put my chips on number 3.

        • “Cold war is over, Don, the Russians aren’t a threat.”

          Ah, yes. The end of history and all that. We now live in an age of perpetual peace and happiness, the lion has laid down with the lamb.

  • Where do people get the idea that Barry is such an eloquent speaker? Without a working teleprompter in front of him, he can’t string two words together that make sense.

  • “The GOP is the side saying “no way” and refusing to cooperate.”

    Which is why your boy Barry has failed to invite any of them to the White House to win them over since April. Because he’s such a consensus building, getting folks on board kind of guy. From “We Won” to “Rahm it through” his administration continues to demonstrate a willingness to work with the other party! (Provided the other party in question is the Communist Party)

    Why do I bother, you’re cluelessly reading from some script you get from the faculty lounge Obamabot representative. No doubt the political commissar for your facility, still hammering on talking points that are nearly 2 months out of date.

    The GOP…do I have to go back and see if you were one of the many claiming the GOP was dead? And now you’re claiming the party that can’t muster any kind of control over any thing in either the House or the Senate are suddenly fighting this phenomenal battle against the party that controls the House, the Senate and the White House and stopping them dead in their tracks? Do you seriously believe yourself? Watch and Learn? All I see out of the GOP is the inability to even form a coherent position against the numerous socialist policies that are being suggested, and in some cases happily suggesting Socialist light policies in their place.

    You dolt, it’s not the GOP that’s stopping this, it’s, quite simply, the PEOPLE, scaring the crap out of the legislature. But since you think you have a lock on the view of main stream America you can’t give them credit for that, because to do so would force you to acknowledge you don’t have a clue what the main stream actually thinks, which would then almost completely invalidate your world view.

    • “…it’s not the GOP that’s stopping this, it’s, quite simply, the PEOPLE, scaring the crap out of the legislature.”

      The people who work for a living scare them, but that’s counterbalanced by the people who vote for a living.

  • I have a brother in law like Obama.
    He has a shingle and manages to smooth talk himself into $100k jobs but then 6 months later he’s back out on the street only to be hired at another $100k job, over and over again, 6 times in the past 2.5 years. Seems he can make a convincing presentation but when it comes to heavy lifting his backbone snaps. Is there an endless supply of fools out there?
    Funny thing is, as a business owner that has conferenced hundreds of meetings with very influencial people over the past 2 decades regarding massive amounts of money, I was never taken in by Obama or Bush or Clinton. While all the bobbing heads were talking about how great Clinton and Obama were at speaking I saw gargantuan holes in their deliveries, holes that would have sealed their fate at the conference table. The private sector would have killed them boys. Only in the role of public theft, ie., gov’t can such criminal speech be held as great. The whole thing is embarrassing, really.

  • “The GOP is the side saying ‘no way’ and refusing to cooperate.”

    The GOP is failing to cooperate? Just for the record, in case you want to check them out, these are the bills proposed, so far, in the House by the GOP:
    H.R. 77; H.R. 109; H.R. 198; H.R. 270; H.R. 321; H.R. 464; H.R. 502; H.R. 544; H.R. 917; H.R. 1086; H.R. 1118; H.R. 1441; H.R. 1458; H.R. 1468; H.R. 1658; H.R. 1891; H.R. 2520; H.R. 2607; H.R. 2692; H.R. 2784; H.R. 2785; H.R. 2786; H.R. 2787; H.R. 3141; H.R. 3217; H.R. 3218; H.R. 3356; H.R. 3372; H.R. 3400; H.R. 3438; H.R. 3454; and H.R. 3478.

    Specific Bills include the following:
    HR 2520: Patients’ Choice Act. Introduced: May 20 by WI Rep. Paul Ryan.
    HR 3217: Health Care Choice Act. Introduced: July 14 by AZ Rep. John Shadegg.
    HR 3400: Empowering Patients First Act. Introduced: July 30 by GA Rep. Tom Price.
    HR 3438: Access to Insurance for All Americans Act. Introduced: July 31 by CA Rep. Darrell Issa.
    HR 3478: Patient-Controlled Healthcare Protection Act of 2009. Introduced: July 31 by TX Rep. Louie Gohmert

    Additionally over 800 amendments have been offered to the Democratic bills currently on the table. These amendments include:
    • Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).
    • Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.
    • Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.
    • Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.
    • Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
    • Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.
    • Enact Medicare reform.
    • Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

    Where, by all that is holy, can you call what I have just related to you as nothing? The travesty of all of this the dmocrats have shot down each and every one of these bills – and guess what, I will bvet you they did not read these bills or the amendments either.

    • Awwww…your actual facts versus Scott’s uncited, unproven ‘feelings’.
      Darn it! Now he’s going to have to be quiet!

    • That has been a prominent Democrat strategy– shoot down or block any Republican bill or amendment, then claim that the Republicans are being critical of the President but “not offering solutions of their own.” The press has, of course, run with this.

      It is yet another reminder that we have a Democrat President with solid Democrat majorities in both houses of congress, yet the Democrats are struggling to get support for a bill that some claim has “widespread support.” Claims about how Republicans are somehow blocking health care reform with a PR campaign that few Americans agree with do not stand up to simple scrutiny.

    • That’s not cooperation — anyone can throw out alternatives. Cooperation requires compromise and meeting the other side part way. The GOP is simply opposing.

      • There’s no reason to cooperate with something that will make conditions in the medical industry worse, Scott.

        The real problem that Republicans have is their lack of a truly coherent counter-proposal that withdraws government from involvement in the medical industry and allows greater and more fluid free market competition.

        But the Republicans seem to be crawling in that direction. In the meantime, nothing good can come from the Democratic Congress and Obama, and Republicans must not cooperate with them. The Democrats are incompetent and the Republicans should not lend their support to any of it.

      • “That’s not cooperation — anyone can throw out alternatives. Cooperation requires compromise and meeting the other side part way. The GOP is simply opposing.”

        800 amendments to the Democratic bills currently on the table is not cooperation? I guess cooperation for you means having the Republicans knuckling under to the Democrats, regardless of what is on the table?

        Why don’t you just admit to all that you are solidly in the tank for Obama – come Hell or high water. That you don’t care what the Republicans do, you will preach the Messiah’s message – forever.

        Go ahead and admit it Erb – and you are the one who keeps preaching pragmatism – You POS!

    • “Additionally over 800 amendments have been offered to the Democratic bills currently on the table. These amendments include:…”

      … special treatment for states whose names begin in “U”.

      Was he serious? I should hope not. And that’s pretty much the tenor of the Republican amendments.



    It is real simple, he is a lefty academic with no common sense, a casual relationship to truth, and an overwhelming blind belief in his ideology.

    In other words he is ERB!

    Isn’t that a scary thought.

  • This from the political wing that thought that Dubya was the best thing since sliced tortillas, and that Sarah Palin added gravitas to the GOP ticket?!?!?