cult of personality
Edward Luce, writing in the Financial Times, certainly seems to think so:
Anyone wondering about the scale of the anti-Obama backlash should look at its impact on the 2016 US presidential race. Both major parties are looking for candidates with genuine executive experience. The Republican list of hopefuls is filling up with sitting governors. Among Democrats, hopes rest mainly with Hillary Clinton. Should Elizabeth Warren, the popular senator from Massachusetts, enter the fray Mrs Clinton’s riposte would trip off the tongue. Ms Warren has no governing experience, she could say. And we all know the risks of that.
Having authored an inspirational politics, President Barack Obama’s difficulties are spawning a new fashion for perspiration. Given its limited powers, the strength of the US presidency derives largely from its occupant’s credibility.
Faith in Mr Obama’s competence was already negative. Doubts now extend to his personal integrity. A majority of Americans tell pollsters that they no longer believe he is always telling the truth. Were Mr Obama in a different system, he would be fending off a leadership challenge or facing a snap election. Since the US constitution rules out those options, Mr Obama is in danger of becoming a permanent lame duck.
I’d say that was a pretty fair summary of the depth of Obama’s problems. It reminds many of the George H. W. Bush “read my lips” moment, only on steroids. In both cases, personal credibility suffered. It is also interesting to read the first paragraph. Suddenly the experience of actually having run something or done something besides promote yourself all your life is in demand.
But Luce makes some important points – especially with the line, “Given its limited powers, the strength of the US presidency derives largely from its occupant’s credibility.” Mr. Obama has trampled his. And, unfortunately for Democrats, he continues to do so. Luce gives a bit of insight for that as well:
But Mr Obama’s problems derive chiefly from his tendency to react politically to events, rather than from a lack of time. His fumbling response to the woes engulfing the Affordable Care Act show how hard it is for him to kick the habit – even if the remainder of his presidency depends on it.
Pinpoint accuracy in describing the major problem of this administration. As I’ve said many times, it is all politics all the time with them. And for such a politically astute group while on the campaign trail, they are incredibly inept in the use of politics while governing. That’s mainly because the only experience they have is with politics – certainly not with governing.
Mr Obama has continually promised more from his signature healthcare reform than it can deliver. In addition to telling Americans that they could keep their insurance if they liked it – a pledge that millions now know was untrue – Mr Obama said the law would extend coverage to the one in six uninsured Americans, reduce costs for the other five and improve delivery for all six.
There ought to have been more scepticism about whether he could make a thing universally available, higher quality and cheaper all at the same time. Only price controls and public provision could conceivably have done that. And Mr Obama had ruled those out early on.
There ought to have been? There was plenty of skepticism at the time among those who actually took the time to think it through. And so far the only promises that have been kept are those the skeptics said would happen. The fact is this was panned by the entire right, but that argument against was virtually ignored by the main stream press who, on the whole, thought this was a dandy idea. There was plenty of skepticism … just no one willing to listen to it. Instead, they chose to listen to the snake-0il-salesman-in-chief.
So is Obama’s presidency failing? Of course it is. It is a presidency built on a cult of personality. And once that which held it together and gave it its strength and resiliency is destroyed, the whole house of cards collapses. Mr. Obama’s credibility is in tatters. While there are those who will claim this is recoverable, it’s not. Even if they finally get the website fixed, they then have to deal with the sticker shock so many are going to experience when they see higher premiums and higher deductions and feel lied too again.
Is the Obama presidency failing? In a word, ‘yes’. And if, as Luce claims, Obama is relegated to “permanent lame duck status”, so be it. That may give the country an outside chance to survive this administration.