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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

President Obama

Might as well resign ourselves to the fact. It's unbecoming to deny reality. President Obama. I've removed myself in large part from current events, so I have to trust in the opinions of trustworthy people. Tony Blankley. I've never seen him be wrong. His take? There are four issues that Obama claimed were of the highest priority: "Cabinet selection, closing Gitmo, the stimulus package and bipartisanship." His handling of these matters?

Even I know that Obama said he "screwed up." How? Blankley asks: "Did he actively design the failed vetting process and actively assess the various negative pieces of information and fail to see their significance? Or did he 'screw up' by letting others design the failed system and assess the data inflow? The former would show poor substantive judgment. The latter would show he wasn't paying sufficient attention to a presumably vital matter. We don't know yet which kind of 'screw-up' it was."

First, that strikes me as very smart analysis by Blankley. And smart questions. Screwing up is one thing. The manner of the screw up is even more that one thing, when the guy's job is to get things done. That's what an executive does, after all -- see that things get done. So was he a poor organizer, or a poor supervisor, in this matter of high priority. It's not all about rhetoric, after all. Eventually people have to stop feeling and start doing.

As for Gitmo, Obama's "first public signing as president was that executive order to close it down. The central issue of Gitmo's closing was and is: What do we do with the dangerous inmates? President Bush kept it open primarily because his administration couldn't figure out an answer to that question." These are prisoners taken in battle, after all -- blood enemies in the literal sense. Can't just put them in county lockup. Parolees tend to find themselves back in the field, firing at Americans. Sup wit' dat? Moslems lie? Say it ain't so! But close Gitmo we must, so closed it will be. What of the prisoners? -- the very point of it all?

It "was breathtaking that at the signing ceremony, President Obama didn't know how -- or even whether -- his executive order was dealing with this central quandary.

"President Obama: 'And we then provide, uh, the process whereby Guantanamo will be closed, uh, no later than one year from now. We will be, uh. ... Is there a separate, uh, executive order, Greg, with respect to how we're going to dispose of the detainees? Is that, uh, written?'

"White House counsel Greg Craig: 'We'll set up a process.'"

Amazing. You recognize what it is, right? It's a guy who isn't used to making decisions about something other than his next career move. When the goal isn't focused on himself, he has no sense of what needs to be done. "To be at the signing ceremony and not know what he was ordering done with the terrorist inmates is a level of ignorance about equivalent to being a groom at the altar in a wedding ceremony and asking who it is you are marrying."

Regarding the "stimulus", he took no effective part in designing the bill, as we know from his criticisms of it. Did he have no input? Did he think of objections only after he signed it? Did he trust Reid and Pelosi to get it right? Did he not dare risk their opposition? Does he hope others will expend their influence to effect changes, so that he himself doesn't have to use his own? Sadly, leadership requires risk. A "leader" who just talks is what is technically known as a blowhard.

As for bipartisanship, well. Inviting opposition pols to balls and parties is not bipartisanship. Including them in the decision making process is. Obama "permitted his congressional allies to completely shut out (except for the three collaborators) all Senate Republicans and all House Republicans, including their leadership and the GOP's titular leader, Sen. John McCain, in the drafting of the bill and the final conference committee."

There comes a point when the disconnect between rhetoric and actions requires characterization. The word would be "liar." It would be, if we felt sure there was an intent to deceive. If Obama really does think that tickets to a Superbowl Party, whatever that is, constitutes bipartisanship, then he is in reality the idiot that the left claimed Bush was. Because intelligence in its most meaningful sense is gauged by how closely one's intellect matches up with the objective world. Yes, there are brilliant fantasists, but if they are moronic in their daily functioning, well -- they'd be like Obama, thinking that meaningless courtesy from a position of power is the same as bipartisanship.

Blankley lists "four possible explanations for this almost unprecedented presidential detachment from the decision making of policies the president publicly declared to be vital to the country and his presidency: 1) He is a very, very big-picture man, and he delegates decisions even on the central points of vital issues. 2) For tactical reasons, he decided these matters were not worth using up political chits. 3) He is either hesitant or unskilled at management, and he let matters drift until it seemed too late to intervene personally. 4) Or his personality type leaves him surprisingly uninterested in things that aren't personally about him."

Possible reasons need not be likely reasons. My low opinion of Obama is a little frightening to me. In this so-perilous time, we have the most manifestly unqualified leader ever. Bush had been a governor and a businessman -- not stellar recommendations, but sufficient -- and he was elected in a trivial era. Lincoln wouldn't have seemed like much, to the unattentive eye. But his qualities were there to see, and his mind was radiant. Go down the list. Point is, we knew, we knew that this was a moment of gravest crisis, and we elected a dilettante.

Lincoln? We read his words today, and they are poetry. Obama's speeches depend on his delivery. The words themselves contain hardly any meaning. Pathetic.

Regarding Obama's stated priorities, and the way he handled them, Blankley says that whatever "the reason, this level of presidential detachment from high policy decision making is dangerous in a White House that has so many czars and other senior players (the West Wing staff is reputed to be more than 130 -- about double the usual number) combined with emissaries and strong-willed Cabinet secretaries." At a time like this, we have a White House that functions as a circus clown-car. The purpose of a ringmaster is to maintain order. Do you see that happening?


J

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