Sunday, September 12, 2010

What Went Wrong : Fineman discovers Obama's Incompetence

Howard Fineman does a little reflecting in his Newsweek column, asking What Went Wrong. It's nothing we didn't already know.

First, Obama was full of himself:

One day in the winter of 2005, I was in a Senate hallway when the new guy from Illinois arrived for a vote. Sen. Barack Obama—pop-star charisma, limitless possibility—knew his own allure.

Second, Obama had never lead anything, and had no idea how to run anything:
“Shovel ready” projects identified in the spring of 2009 are often still “unshoveled” because officials aren’t in place to approve them, says Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. “The fact is,” he says, “Obama never really ran anything, even legislatively.” Neither has his closest adviser, message guru David Axelrod.
But being full of himself, Obama couldn't see his own flaws, and unlike past Presidents didn't surround himself with people who could be the leaders he wasn't. Instead, he thought he could do it all, because he thought he always had (and apparently, Fineman still thinks Obama actually was an over-acheiver):

Obama—an overachiever, the guy who fills up a second blue book on the extra-credit question—tried to do it all. His chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, eager to please the new boss, declared before Inauguration Day: “Never allow a crisis to go to waste. There are opportunities to do big things.” But in doing big things, they failed to fully attend to (and be seen attending to) the immediate economic needs of the middle class. “There hasn’t been the laserlike focus on the economy there could have, and should have, been,” says a top Democratic strategist who declined to be named criticizing the White House.
Now, that's something I would like to see from a reporter like Howard -- the actual blue book that Fineman thinks he filled with an extra-credit question. Howard is a true believer, who without a single shred of evidence (college transcripts, scholarly papers, professors who remember how smart Obama was or even that Obama was in their classrooms) believes the hype that Obama sold, and even makes up his own aprocryphal statements like his "blue-book" assertion.

Fineman has also belatedly come to understand that Obama has no focus, and shows little interest in actually doing the job, leading him into petulant and ignorant decisions:

The president is an agreeable guy, but aloof, and not one who likes to come face to
face with the enemy.
In the spring of 2009, the White House strong-armed House Democrats into voting for a cap-and-trade environmental bill, even though it was clear the Senate wouldn’t go along.
It’s the task of the presidency to cajole people, including your enemies, into doing what they don’t want to do if it is good for the country. Did Obama think he could eschew the rituals of politics—that all he had to do was invoke His Hopeness to bring
people aboard?
Fact is, Obama has never really had to work hard at anything, because the people who raised him felt sorry for him and gave him too much. He assumed that someone would do the job for him, like someone has been doing for him most of his life. His mother, his grandparents, his mentors — everybody seems to have wanted to help out the poor orphan boy who lost his dad, and they taught him nothing about hard work and sacrifice.

It still cracks me up to hear how Obama turned down high-paying jobs in law to do community service — because first, he seems to have been fine, with a multi-million-dollar house and hundreds of thousands of dollars a year coming through his wife and all; but second, because if he HAD gotten a high-paying legal position, he would have had to actually have WANTED TO WORK. He took the easy way out, “community organizer”, and accomplished nothing.

Fineman also puts to bed many of the lies Obama has been telling. For example, the "change the tone in Washington" by "reaching out to the opposition":
The president hasn’t invited the House minority leader over to talk, and Obama had his first private Oval Office chat with Mc Connell only last month. Better late than never, but too late to do any good this cycle.
Imagine that -- almost two years into his term, and he had NEVER had a one-on-one with the head Republicans in either legislative body, and has only just recently sat down with McConnell, who was one of his Senate colleagues.

Remember in contrast that Bush, who was roundly panned by the "media" as partisan, had the entire Kennedy clan over to the White House early in his administration, and regularly reached out to the Democrats both individually and in groups.

But Obama, having a large Democrat majority in the house, and at one point a filibuster-proof 60-vote Democrat majority in the Senate, saw no reason to actually work with Republicans, deciding the "new tone" should be to attack republicans and pass laws paying back his constituents for their support and campaign contributions.

Most importantly, Fineman admits to what we already knew, and what the Media worked many long weeks to acheive: Obama is a personal (fictional) creation of the media, and his election was manufactured without regard for the disastrous policies Obama was KNOWN to want to pursue, but which the media worked with Obama to hide from the voters:
“Obama’s 2008 victory was a personal one,” says Bill Galston, an adviser to President Clinton. “It wasn’t a vote for a more expansive view of the role and reach of government.”
Take health-care reform. Ten years hence, perhaps, it will be seen as the signal achievement of the Obama years. But for now, it’s an unpopular law that took a divisive year to enact, that liberals and conservatives loathe, that is full of bureaucratic and fiscal IEDs, and that drained attention from dealing with the economy. If you disagree, look at Obama’s speech last week in Cleveland. In 47 minutes, he mentioned health care for about 25 seconds.
Ten years hence, if our country is lucky, Obamacare will be a long-gone bad dream. But it is telling that, with Obama claiming he saved the economy from a depression, even one of his biggest chearleaders in the meedia acknowledges that nothing Obama did on the economy will be seen as useful a decade from now. And Fineman realises that Obama doesn't even believe in his own health care program anymore, even if Fineman still has a psychotic hope for it.

I guess we should thank Howard for finally recognising the truth, even if he'll never acknowledge his own part in electing a clueless, aloof, incompetent non-leader with a overblown sense of his own importance to the most powerful job in the world at a time we needed a real leader.

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