“I don’t see how the president’s position and popularity can survive the oil spill. This is third political disaster in his first 18 months of office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning that they were shaped by the president’s political judgment and instincts.” Peggy Noonan, ‘He Was Supposed to Be Competent’, The Wall Street Journal May 29, 2010
Well. fifth actually, as I shall outline.
President Obama is a progressive socialist who was vaulted into office as a direct consequence of a financial crisis and economic contraction. By comparison with his predecessor, he has a good command of the English language. He is well-educated, earning a degree in political science (without honors) from Columbia University and a law degree (with honors) from Harvard University. His education is very much in the liberal arts tradition, where good performance frequently is achieved through memorization and verbal skills, rather than through analytical and problem-solving skills.
The absence of any scholarly publications despite a decade of teaching at the University of Chicago Law School, strongly suggests that the President lacks the spark of originality and analytical prowess that drives academic success. The fact that his autobiography was ghost-written for him by Bill Ayers after years of neglect and failure to honor contracts confirms these suspicions.
There is nothing wrong in electing a non-analytical, unoriginal person to the presidency of the United States, as long as said president recognizes this deficiency and counters it by the exceptional analytical qualities of his Vice-Presidential choice and his cabinet appointees. John Kennedy is an excellent example of such self-correction, as is Ronald Reagan. Barack Obama, however, is no John Kennedy, and certainly is no Ronald Reagan. He is a narcissist, who genuinely believes that he is the smartest man on the planet, and who has completely swallowed his own electioneering rhetoric: ‘Yes, we can.”
So Barack Obama has chosen for his Vice-President and, with few exceptions, for his White House advisors and cabinet members, sycophants who loyally and unquestioningly support his policy pronouncements, even when his policy initiatives are going badly wrong. The two exceptions, in my judgment, are Hillary Clinton at State, whose role has been severely restrained by a short presidential leash, and Leon Panetta, who is significantly improving the performance of a dis-functional CIA.
Bad consequences follow such self-reliance as unusual shocks hit the United States. Ignoring a vast literature exposing the fallacies of Keynesian economics, Obama secured as economic advisors the remaining ideological remnants of that doctrine to support his penchant for a massive public expenditure program to deal with the economic contraction. The result, as we now know, is that the U.S. is mired in unsustainable debt without any benefit whatsoever in terms of lowered unemployment.
Ignoring all the accumulated experience of tit-for-tat foreign policy interventions by the Reagan administration – supported by Nobel Prize winning strategists such as Thomas Schelling – Obama proceeded with an appeasement policy similar to that of Britain’s Neville Chamberlain in responding to aggression on the part of Iran and North Korea. The fruits of Obama’s deference are now self-evident, as Israel threatens to do to Iran what Obama could have pre-empted, and as South Korea puts in place sanctions against North Korea that Obama also could have pre-empted.
Ignoring all the warnings from leading health economists such as John Goodman, Obama drove through a reluctant Congress grossly incompetent health care legislation that threatens to lower the quality of health care nationwide, while drenching the U.S. economy in increased debt and higher taxes.
Ignoring all the advice and concern from border states inundated with illegal immigrants, with drug wars and high rates of crime, Obama proceeded with a non-policy, designed to secure Hispanic vote support, to the point where the U.S. borders are functionally and illegally open, and where individual states are effectively replacing federal with state laws, and enforcing those laws while the Feds sit helplessly by, reined in by a presidential leash.
And now, with a damaged well gushing black oil into the Gulf of Mexico, a United States President flaps his gums with useless rhetoric, acknowledging that his own administration has no technical expertise to deal with the event. A Harvard law degree, it seems offers little by the way of insight into the realpolitick of dealing with multi-national corporations such as BP, whose principal concern is not shielding the U.S. coastline from ecological harm.
Fortunately, there is one major silver lining in this catelogue of incompetence. American voters are increasingly aware that government is not the solution, but rather is the problem. ”I am from the government, and I am here to help you“ more than ever before is a successful joke- line in the comedy house of politics.
Tags: BP and the oil spill, failure of the stimulus legislation, incompetence of the Obama administration, Iran and North Korea, open borders and state interventions, the health care reform fiasco, unforced policy errors