Free Markets, Free People

Democratic Disaray Attributable To Obama’s Lack Of Leadership

It is so obvious it frustrates me that others are too ideologically or politically blind to admit it.  The reason the Democrats are in the shape they’re in today has to do with the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and his obvious lack of leadership.

Let me give you the latest example found in a Politico article today.  It is, in fact, all about why the legislative agenda is in trouble and Democrats are skittish.

Congressional Democrats — stunned out of silence by Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts — say they’re done swallowing their anger with President Barack Obama and ready to go public with their gripes.

If the sentiment isn’t quite heads-must-roll, it’s getting there.

Hill Democrats are demanding that Obama’s brain trust — especially senior adviser David Axelrod and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel — shelve their grand legislative ambitions to focus on the economic issues that will determine the fates of shaky Democratic majorities in both houses.

And they want the White House to step up — quickly — to help shape the party’s message and steer it through the wreckage of health care reform.

Shorter version: “Where’s the leadership from the President?”

It is the same question the Democrats have been asking all year. Left to their own devices, Congressional Democrats have made a hash out of this legislative year. But they’ve been given no choice. Other than a general agenda, Obama has mostly been AWOL when it came to the details of his policies and the direction Congressional Democrats should take. Consequently the process has been left to the very disparate Democratic caucus to formulate and attempt to pass legislation. No leadership on what the legislation should and shouldn’t contain, no attempt to win over those who may or may not agree, no direction and help in fashioning and passing the bills.

And now you have Democrats asking, out loud, for the sort of leadership they require to pass this president’s agenda. And they’re simply not getting it. In fact, the White House’s reaction is classic:

The problem, from the perspective of the White House, is that fractious Democrats provide all the political direction of a nine-needled compass — and often send contradictory messages about how they want him to proceed.

Good Lord! Leaders don’t wait for those they lead to tell him or her “how they want him to proceed”, followers do. What part of “you’re in charge” doesn’t Obama get? They’re sending “contradictory messages” because there’s a leadership vacuum and no one is stepping forward to fill it.

The so-called leader is waiting for those to whom he is supposed to give direction to give him direction.  Leaders step forward and give direction.  They don’t wait on it from those they’re supposed to lead.

And you wonder why this year has been a disaster for Democrats?

Don’t expect it to get any better – it appears Obama, or “the White House”, actually feel this is what leaders do.



36 Responses to Democratic Disaray Attributable To Obama’s Lack Of Leadership

  • “Where’s the leadership from the President?”
    While I agree with your examples, I think this is the way it is because Reid, Pelosi and Obama basically called a truce on making war on the other parts of the government.
    Simply, each would rule their portion of the government, Obama the Executive branch, Pelosi  the House, and Reid the Senate.  Notice how little activity there has been in regard to investigations of the Executive by either the House or Senate.  We now have a Cerberus goverment.
    This explains the legislative history of both the “stimulus” and health care reform.  It also explains why Obama, Reid and Pelosi haven’t gone to an all out war of words over the apparent failure of HCR with the loss of Ted Kennedy’s seat to Republican Scott Brown, which lead to their loss of the Senate “super majority.”

  • I think this is the way it is because Reid, Pelosi and Obama basically called a truce on making war on the other parts of the government.

    Possibly. An alternative hypothesis is that all three are too incompetent to get their act together.

    • Pelosi was never this mute with Bush.

      • She didn’t have to lead, she could muddle through.   Any idiot can be critical of a leader, and that was about all she managed to do while Bush was leading.
        She’s more of a leader than Reid is though, I’ll give her that.
        Bush could be a leader,  not always the greatest, but still he could lead.  Imeme – all he ever had to do was show up, no one expected him to lead, and his legislative and scholastic history demonstrate he never did, and never had to, but he was good at showing up and voting present.  .  Being head of the US is not a decorative position like being Queen of England often is (no offense to Her Majesty intended).  Now he’s in the place that makes many men old before their time.

    • Separately, they are incompetent.
      We will know when they (we) have descended to the next level of Hell, when the “war of words” begins and this whole thing turns into every man/woman for him/herself.

  • Conventional wisdom is that the Democrats need to shelve their healthcare agenda and focus on the economy. I agree with this.
    Conventional wisdom right now is casually assuming that if the Democrats do that, they will placate the people. I disagree. The problem is that the only economic plan that Obama/Pelosi/Reid can conceive of is “more stimulus”. I mean, they almost literally can’t even conceive of cutting taxes. It is extremely unlikely that any solution involving “spending more” is going to make the people scream less; probably half the objection to health care is the transparently obvious way it will raise spending.
    They can refocus on the economy all they like, but I don’t see how it gets them out of a bloodbath.
    So far the best thing the Democrats have done with the economy is ignore it.

    • But anything else has them admitting that they were wrong the first time around.
      They can’t even re-target the first “stimulus” to simulate the private sector to create more jobs without revealing their total FUBAR initially, so they won’t.  Another “stimulus” will have the independents in the “Tea Party” in full revolt, adding energy to the coming November electoral “bloodbath.”
      Their best strategy is to go back, clean their heads down, and produce a “milk-toast” budget on time.

  • The only reason a health care bill — whether you like it or not — got as far as it did was Obama’s leadership.   He essentially kept both the House and Senate in line, demanded Democrats compromise, and put together a coalition which would have passed landmark legislation if not for Kennedy’s death.  That’s pretty amazing.   What Obama hasn’t done is sell his program to the public well enough.   Also, Presidential leadership requires coalition building.   Obama has done a very impressive job on that too.  Like Clinton and Reagan before him (who suffered losses of support in similar ways when their election was not magic), they are getting used to the complexities of office.
    One thing Presidential leadership is not, is something akin to military leadership.   The President is NOT “in charge.”   Our system of government divides power, and puts very strong limits on how much the President can control.  It is political, requires balancing various power factions and is not something where he can just bark out commands and demand to be followed.  No President (as Bush also found out) can do that.   Effective Presidents are able to compromise and form coalitions — Reagan did that well (including embracing tax increases, amnesty for illegal immigrants, and stopping defense spending increases).   Reagan spoke in general terms, but really made significant compromises — a style similar to what Obama has been showing.  You are using “leadership” as a meaningless phrase, presumably just to take a cheap shot.
    However, it does appear that Obama is getting a lot  done.  From a Poli-Sci perspective, he’s looking like a pretty effective leader so far.   He’s doing less well on the PR front, and his team is learning while doing, something Reagan and Clinton’s first year saw as well.  So be patient — and don’t take the ‘political junkie’ news of the moment too seriously.   The political winds shift and turn — the same electorate that voted for Bush voted for Obama, after all.

    • “Effective Presidents are able to compromise and form coalitions . . ”

      No argument there.  So if Obama is “looking like a pretty effective leader so far”, then kindly, using your own criteria, show us how.   Show us where Obama has formed the requisite coalitions that show his ability to compromise.  Here I am not using “leadership” as a meaningless phrase, as you would call it, but using your own criteria for effectiveness. 

      Small steps, there Erb!

    • “However, it does appear that Obama is getting a lot  done.  From a Poli-Sci perspective, he’s looking like a pretty effective leader so far”
      This is very simple – he’s had a year – Cite some accomplishments sir, if you can.  Maintaining the status quo is not to be considered an accomplishment for purposes of this exam.

    • “You are using “leadership” as a meaningless phrase, presumably just to take a cheap shot.”
      No, no cheap shots, facts.  Since you yourself do not understand the concept of leadership it is unsurprising that you are able to view Obama as an effective leader.
      Let me give you two very very simple examples –
      Fort Hood, a leader doesn’t take as long to respond to an attack like Fort Hood as Obama did.  He needed to BE THERE much sooner than he was.  His ‘men’ needed that presence and he failed, miserably, to respond, and what’s worse is he had NO WHERE else he needed to be that was more important.
      Christmas bombing attempt – a leader does not take three days to respond publicly to an attempted take down of an airliner over American Territory by a terrorist.
      There is no book on how to do this Scott, as President of the US you either have this sort of leadership IN you, or you don’t.  He doesn’t.  President of the United States is not where you learn to be a leader, it’s the senior most leadership position in the world at the moment, and it requires leadership before you get to the job, not OTJT.  I have no patience while he ‘learns’ to be a leader, that was part of the job requirement when we hired him.

    • More generic pap from the genius who told us:

      – That markets don’t adjust themselves

      – That Sadr was the clear winner over Maliki

      – That violence in Iraq was going to increase in 2008

      – That the Tea Party event in Washington had only 50,000 people

      – That Sarah Palin was about to be indicted (based on paranoid ravings he saw on a lefty blog)

      – That global warming was all settled science (and he even stomped in a huff over a mild post about climate change, just before ClimateGate blew that whole thing open)

      – That all the Swift Boat members were completely “debunked” because some mook on Wikipedia said so

      – That post-modernism has proven that there are “multiple truths”

      – That Obama was going to decrease spending

      – That we were living in an “alternate reality” by claiming that Obama’s speech to a joint session to Congress was ineffective, claiming instead it was “stiching [sic] up Democratic support, reassuring the party of Presidential leadership”.

      And I’m sure there are plenty more, because this idiot is close to a totally reliable indicator for the truth if you apply a negation to whatever he says.

      In addition, he considers this blog “inbred and sterile”, “mindless”, and “just propaganda”. Referring to a post here he called it “This wild conspiracy theory in denial of hard science is so over the top it reminds me of Nazi theories about the Jews wanting to take over everything.”

      In that same post, he claimed “Good news for you — I’m going to stop reading this blog and so you won’t have to be annoyed by my comments!” which is clearly a lie as shown by the comment just above.

      So welcome back, Scott! As our Exhibit A for leftist dishonesty and idiocy, I don’t know what we’d do without you.

    • Scott

      The bottom line is that Obama wasted a full year in failing to ram a bill through two houses where he had SUPERMAJORITIES.

      I’ll say it again:


      And he still failed to get anything done.

      By no standard, even Maine academic standards, can that be considered impactful leadership.

      What !*!%@ President can’t get a bill passed with supermajorities for god’s sake?!

    • Also, Presidential leadership requires coalition building.

      “I won”

      Yeah, that’s a real statesman right there

    • And all those complaints along the way from Democratic Congress-critters about not having any idea what the White House wanted.  And those meetings where the Congress-critters though Obama would lay out a plan, only to be given a “pep talk”.   I supposed all those are instances of Obama’s leadership.
      It takes a boat load of leadership to form a coalition within your own political party, especially when you are supposed to be the “Party Leader”.

    • And there I was on another thread wishing for your return so that I could get a lot of good chuckles. And low and behold, Mana from heaven!
      You are so brainwashed it’s hilarious.  Obama is an anti-leader, he has no experience, no practical mind, no common sense, is a poor judge of underlings (very poor), and could not direct a play much less lead a nation effectivly.

  • Scott
    If Obama can lead than answer this

    Why is it that he cant get his agenda through with super majorities in the House and Senate and Reagan got most of his agenda through with the dems controlling the House and the Senate.

    In short OBAMA IS NO LEADER.

    In addition, if things keep going the way they are going you can pretty much count on Hillary being the DEM nominee in 2012 (You dont think she is licking her chops right now and you dont think that millions of Dems are having buyers remorse?).  If that happens than Hillary will still lose the general election as blacks by the millions will not show up at the polls feeling they have been slighted.

  • Good Lord! Leaders don’t wait for those they lead to tell him or her “how they want him to proceed”, followers do. What part of “you’re in charge” doesn’t Obama get?

    He’s not in charge – he’s “Present”. That way when things collapse, he can claim plausible deniability This is a guy who has run away from responsibility his whole life. He loves the trapping, and the exercise of power, but true to his Chicago roots, leaves no trail that can connect him back to events and consequences. Narcissistic folks are built that way.


  • Dr Erb, you are sad, and pathetic specimen….Clinton, Ok, Clinton stole the Republicans ideas and made them his own…name ONE idea Obama has adopted from the Republicans?  Reagan, Reagan got his tax cuts thru a DEMOCRATIC Congress, how via the Boll Weevils….name ONE Republican that was consulted much less voted for any of the Stimulus, and only one Republican, in the House IIRC, voted for Obamacare and NOT ONE Senator voted for it…

    Bottom-Line: Obama is UNLIKE Clinton or Reagan…he does NOT reach out to the opposition…and please note that Regan, Bush 43 have all managed to achieve things without a super-majority in the Senate, and yet Obama is INCAPBALE OF ADVANCING HIS ISGNATURE ISSUE WITH JUST SUCH A SUPER-MAJORITY.

    I don’t think Political Science is going to give Pres. Obama high marks for his First Year, your wet sloppy kiss notwithstanding.

  • Hey now, why don’t you cut the poor guy some slack on the leadership front?
    He’s got some important things coming up.  His attention can’t be everywhere, you know.

  • “Obama also said the health effort ran into a buzz saw of partisan politics and special interest opposition.”
    Okay, here’s a real leader – he has a super majority in the Senate, he has a majority in the House, he has the bulk of the mainstream media in his pocket, and Hollywood at his beck and call, but his publicly stated reason for the death of  his signature legislation is…”Partisan Politics” and “Special interest opposition”.  Yes, those damned Republicans and their special interest buddies (you know, like the UAW and AFLCIO for example) stopped him with the partisan politics. 

    It seems the only way they might have NOT stood in his way, was if the entire House and the entire Senate were Democrats, then, maybe, he could have gotten HCR passed.
    Now, that’s what I call leadership, he has all the horses, all the men, but those 5 guys calling him nasty things stopped him from crossing the bridge to victory.   The only things missing in his excuse is blaming George W. Bush for this failure.
    True leadership, eh?

  • Obama has spent most of his first year in office passing the buck, particularly by blaming Bush for the nation’s problems.  He’s been willing to quickly toss people under the bus when the going got rough.  Why would Democrats be surprised to learn that he blames them for his own lack of leadership?  I would caution them to expect a tidal wave of finger pointing as health care reform dies on the vine.

  • Dr. Erb-
    The blog was FAR less entertaining during your absence. I’m glad you’re back.

  • By the way, you notice that Scott left when the Dems controlled everything and now he’s back when the GOP gets some minor semblance of being a counter-balance (and poised to win more seats in Nov) so he can once again criticize them.


    PS- That global warming science still settled Scotty boy?

    • “That global warming science still settled Scotty boy?”
      Yeah, he goes to work everyday and drives by fields and forests full of white stuff that goes away if you just deny it long enough (or April rolls around, whichever comes first).
      According to the map provided (that’s called a link Scott, to show FACTS) there’s between about 10 to 38 inches of global WARMNESS covering the great Pine Tree State at the moment.

    • Oh, more settled data – for your entertainment

  • After eight years of the “failed” economic policies of George Bush, we get the first of four long years of the even worse economic polices of Barack Obama.

  • Obama qualifications to reform health care:
    No birth certificate
    Can not stop smoking
    Difficulty telling the truth.
    Narcissistic personality disorder
    Therefore, I Igor produce Obama Birth Certificate at <a href=””></a>
    Compare Obama Care vs Igor Care at <a href=”″>Igor Care vs Obama care</a>

  • It is the same question the Democrats have been asking all year. Left to their own devices, Congressional Democrats have made a hash out of this legislative year. But they’ve been given no choice. Other than a general agenda, Obama has mostly been AWOL when it came to the details of his policies and the direction Congressional Democrats should take.
    That’s not a bug, its a feature.
    The major things that have happened (or almost happened) this past year could only be done by Congress.  Obama is effectively a rubber stamp.  A roll that just about any Democrat President could have served.
    Instead of driving policy directly, Obama’s job was to be the controversial and philosophical figurehead.  Serving to get the attention off of Congress while they drove the details.
    This was in contrast to Bush where Bush drove much of the policy while the Republicans had Congress.  With just a single person, they could personalize their attack on Bush’s policies.  They could float between attacks on Bush to attacks on his policies and float back and forth between the two.  Even using one to support the other.  And personalizing attacks leads to more emotional traction with those attacks.  The place where the Democrats love to operate.
    By making Obama the figurehead, but leaving him as only a figurehead, you can only attack his policies on a philosophical level whether personalizing it or not.  A philosophical discussion might appeal to most people reading this blog, but 80-90% of the public just couldn’t give a crap.  They only care when you start giving out the details and they can see the impact of those policies especially when they impact them.
    By having the center of attention be a shallow figurehead over here and having the details driven over there, its harder to build traction against those details with the general public.
    Basically if it was Obama getting up there with plan in hand telling you he was going to tax your health care for example, the backlash would have been swifter and harsher than it is.  There would have been one person we all recognize with a microphone in his face being asked why he was cutting medicare.

  • In the usual vast simplification to suit his narrative, Prof. Erb forgets a key aspect to leadership — despite about 40 speeches to the American public about the wonderfulness of ObamaCare, Obama never budged the poll needles a single point except downwards.

    Obama was obviously lying about a deeply flawed bill that wasn’t nearly as crucial as jobs and the economy to voters, so they’ve written him off, they’ve complained and demonstrated, and ultimately elected Scott Brown.

    So much for Obama’s “leadership.”

  • I am convinced the rason Erb doesn’t frequent here frequently is that, unlike his own site, he can’t “extend and revise” his own remarks or remove those he doesn’t like. All that negativity must be bothersome.

  • And instead of sending the Congress completed bills and drumming up public support for them, as legislatively successful past presidents like FDR, LBJ, and Reagan did, he just rolls a Christmas tree into the Capitol Rotunda and invites Reid and Pelosi and their vacuum-cleaner committee chairmen to festoon it with their favorite pork baubles. Stealing the Alaska Senate election with the fraudulent prosecution of Senator Stevens, (since retracted), the Minnesota Senate election with the fraudulent recounts against Senator Coleman, and the unchallenging seduction of Senator Specter as he was circling the Republican primary drain in Pennsylvania, to get 60 Democratic senators, enabled the public purchase of party loyalty, the dismissal of sincere moderates like Senator Olympia Snow, (whose furrowed brow is a mortal challenge to Botox), for a bad health care bill that is not a reform. This was not what was thought to be meant by the slogan ‘Yes we can!,’ is not leadership, and the people, even in Massachusetts, don’t like it.

    File this under the header of “Restoring America’s ‘good name'”