That’s the question headlining a Ron Fournier article in National Journal. My first reaction was to laugh out loud. My second reaction was to wonder why it has taken all this time for someone in the press to actually ask that question.
The evidence of his lack of leadership has been on the table for 4 plus years. And for me that’s a double edged sword. On the one side, I’m happy he’s such a dismal leader because it limits what he can destroy. On the other side, especially the policy side both foreign and domestic, it has led to a decline in almost all areas. A decline a real leader will have to address when Obama is finally relegated to history.
Anyway, here’s Fournier’s take:
In March, a reporter asked Obama why he didn’t lock congressional leaders in a room until they agreed on a budget deal. Obama’s answer was based on two assumptions. First, that his opinion is supreme. Second, he can’t break the logjam. What a remarkable combination of arrogance and impotence.
"I am not a dictator. I’m the president," he said. "I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that’s been floating around Washington; that somehow, even though most people agree that I’m being reasonable, that most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right."
Obama could still do great things. But not if he and his advisers underestimate a president’s powers, and don’t know how to exploit them. Not if his sympathizers give Obama cover by minimizing his influence. Cover to fail. Not if the president himself is outwardly and boundlessly dismissive of his critics, telling The New York Times, "I’m not concerned about their opinions."
To say the situation is intractable seems akin to waving a white flag over a polarized capital: Republicans suck. We can’t deal with them. Let’s quit.
I’m afraid they have quit—all of them, on both sides. At the White House and in Congress, most Democrats and Republicans have abandoned hope of fixing the nation’s problems. If leadership was merely about speaking to the converted, winning fights and positioning for blame, America would be in great hands. But it’s not.
Well I’m not so sure they’ve quit … or at least Obama hasn’t quit. He has no desire to persuade or do the hard work of a leader and work with Congress. Instead, where he’s headed does give lie to his claim of not being dictator. That’s precisely what he’d prefer to be. And Daniel Henninger brings you that bit of insight:
Please don’t complain later that you didn’t see it coming. As always, Mr. Obama states publicly what his intentions are. He is doing that now. Toward the end of his speech last week in Jacksonville, Fla., he said: "So where I can act on my own, I’m going to act on my own. I won’t wait for Congress." (Applause.)
The July 24 speech at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., has at least four references to his intent to act on his own authority, as he interprets it: "That means whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I’ll use it." (Applause.) And: "We’re going to do everything we can, wherever we can, with or without Congress."
Every president since George Washington has felt frustration with the American system’s impediments to change. This president is done with Congress.
The political left, historically inclined by ideological belief to public policy that is imposed rather than legislated, will support Mr. Obama’s expansion of authority. The rest of us should not.
And Obama is engaged in the systematic demonization of the other two coequal branches of government in order to sway the public toward his dictatorial inclinations:
To create public support for so much unilateral authority, Mr. Obama needs to lessen support for the other two branches of government—Congress and the judiciary. He is doing that.
Mr. Obama and his supporters in the punditocracy are defending this escalation by arguing that Congress is "gridlocked." But don’t overstate that low congressional approval rating. This is the one branch that represents the views of all Americans. It’s gridlocked because voters are.
Take a closer look at the Galesburg and Jacksonville speeches. Mr. Obama doesn’t merely criticize Congress. He mocks it repeatedly. Washington "ignored" problems. It "made things worse." It "manufactures" crises and "phony scandals." He is persuading his audiences to set Congress aside and let him act.
So too the judiciary. During his 2010 State of the Union speech, Mr. Obama denounced the Supreme Court Justices in front of him. The National Labor Relations Board has continued to issue orders despite two federal court rulings forbidding it to do so. Attorney General Eric Holder says he will use a different section of the Voting Rights Act to impose requirements on Southern states that the Supreme Court ruled illegal. Mr. Obama’s repeated flouting of the judiciary and its decisions are undermining its institutional authority, as intended.
Clearly, Obama’s arrogance leads him to believe that a ruler is what we need, not a president. And he’s up for that job, because it doesn’t brook interference and it doesn’t require leadership. Tyranny is the the usual place people who couldn’t lead an alcoholic to a bar end up. And we’re watching that happen now.
Henninger ends his piece with a final, ironic quote:
"To ensure that no person or group would amass too much power, the founders established a government in which the powers to create, implement, and adjudicate laws were separated. Each branch of government is balanced by powers in the other two coequal branches." Source: The White House website of President Barack Obama.
Our Constitutional scholar is now involved in a process to wreck that balance and enhance executive powers to the point that he really doesn’t need Congress or the courts. And a compliant media along will the left will do everything in their power to enable the transition. Because their ideas and ideology would never pass the test of a real democracy and they have little chance of persuading the population to go along with them. So imposition is truly the only route open. That’s precisely what you’re going to see in Obama’s remaining years as president. Executive imposition of his version of laws or, if you prefer, a brand of executive lawlessness unprecedented in our history.
But then, that’s what dictators do, isn’t it?