September 3, 2009
The Not Ready for Prime Time President
By Bruce Walker
Pundits, including perceptive conservative opponents like Charles Krauthammer, have noted the consummate political skill of Barack Obama. There is not much doubt that Obama was able to wage a very effective campaign for the Democratic nomination and then for the presidency in the general election.
Bill Clinton was a masterful campaigner too (I had the opportunity to watch some of that first hand.) Ronald Reagan, because in part of his long career in Hollywood, could give "The Speech" a thousand times and each time it was electrifying. The word "charisma" entered our popular political language to describe John Kennedy, whose beautiful wife and boyish good looks created the myth of Camelot. Franklin Roosevelt had the same gift for making people feeling comfortable and winning elections.
But there is a huge difference between Obama, on the one hand, those other presidents on the other hand - and the difference transcends ideology. The difference is that JFK, FDR, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton had the ability to govern once they had won their elections.
FDR, by the time he became president, he had served as Secretary of the Navy under Woodrow Wilson, Governor of New York, and Vice Presidential Candidate of his party in 1928. Forget the rightness or the wrongness of his policies: Franklin Roosevelt understood governance.
John Kennedy had been a war hero, a member of Congress, and the real author of some important books (like Why England Slept, in which JFK describes the dangers of appeasing evil.) The Roosevelt and Kennedy clans also grew up with a sense of aristocratic responsibility and a backdoors familiarity with power which may not have been moral, but certainly was valuable.
Ronald Reagan, in addition to being a movie star, a union president, and an ambassador for General Electric, served eight years as Governor of California and was twice an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination before finally winning the nomination in 1980.
Even Bill Clinton had been a congressional candidate, then attorney general of Arkansas, then for many years governor of Arkansas before he ran for president. Clinton served a term as Chair of the National Governors Association. He was a leading member of the Democratic Leadership Council, a group considered to be moderate but which was influential.
Obama, while possessing many of the campaigning gifts of these presidents, has shown no ability to govern at all. This is a very dangerous situation for our nation. Our leader is a man whose ignorance, in many areas of history and policy, is simply appalling. He is rather like the "President in the Plastic Bubble." Obama's entire life has been insulated from any sense of reality of the nation he governs.
When a black Marxist professor obviously blinded by intense racial rage has to be taken to a police station by a police officer nursed in all the nuances of political correctness, Obama cannot see his friend as the wailing bigot and the white policemen as the reasonable figure. At best, Obama calls it a moral draw.
When millions of Americans spontaneously protest at Tea Parties and Town Meetings proposals for massive federal changes, Obama instructs his satrapies in government, the Democratic Party, and the media that the voters are simply uninformed. When citizens cite specific sections of federal bills, how serious does Obama expect to be taken?
When polls show his support dropping steadily as well as support for his specific policies and his party, Obama seems to think that his cronies and he have simply not repeated the same unbelievable statements often, clearly, or loudly enough. It is as if John Edwards had taken the position, when his infidelity was exposed, that he simply needed to get in front of the television camera as often as possible repeating his lies as persuasively as he could.
His pals from Chicago seem unable to help him. His partisan handlers fancy that they can simply ram whatever they want. Men like Axelrod and Emmanuel seem to think that it should be simple to push radical Leftist programs through a nation in which conservatives outnumber liberals in virtually all of the fifty states. Obama and his clique appear certain that in a modern culture in which celebrity means everything to many, that just remaining on the cover of glamour magazines will assure political support -- when actually the immature voter is the most feckless and unreliable source of muscle around.
President Obama seemingly has no clue about what he is doing, and, increasingly, it shows. What will happen when things start to go sour in Afghanistan? Our Commander-in-Chief simply will not be able to blame President Bush. After Obama has effectively destroyed the CIA, what will he do when terrorists strike? War is a nasty business in which lawyers should have little role. Has Obama noticed that Islamic terrorists are now threatening him? Does he understand that these vicious men are still threatening America?
Looking smooth on television and wowing those fawning socialites and film directors who want to be wowed brings a sort of ephemeral "popularity," but great nations are not governed on such spun sugar. Winning elections and running superpowers are very different tasks. Now, we have a president who is every second still just a candidate. As the world grows more dangerous by the day, we are "led" by the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-President.