In August 2009, The Stiletto noted that with his passive management style – which we now know as “leading from behind” – President Barack Hussein Obama had “made himself largely irrelevant on many of the issues he ran on, from healthcare ‘reform’ to ‘resetting’ our foreign relations (second item). Just seven months after was inaugurated into office Obama was already a lame duck – a condition characterized by political impotence and sclerosis that typically doesn’t manifest until mid-term elections in a president’s second term. The Stiletto concluded:
[T]he 2010 election could put checks and balances on [then House Speaker] Pelosi and Obama – which will make it even harder than it has proven thus far for the president to keep his campaign promises. And when he runs for re-election in 2012, disappointed, disillusioned and dispirited libs and young voters may not report for duty at Organizing for America, or flock to the polls as they did in 2008.
Shortly after her column was published on the FOX News Website – garnering nearly 500,000 page views, by the way – The Stiletto happened to run into a well-known conservative syndicated columnist in the “FOX News Watch” green room who thought she had been more than a bit rash in her assessment. For her part, The Stiletto thought (but was too polite to say) that since she wasn’t being paid the big bucks this pundit was, she could afford to flout the conventional wisdom that Obama had plenty of time to turn around what already looked like a failing presidency.
We are now a year from the 2012 election and Obama has run out of time. Deep down inside, he knew he wasn’t prepared for the job that he BS’d his way into, so Obama has often been paralyzed by indecision and as he waits for others – advisors, cabinet members, Congressional leaders – to come to a consensus on what to do about pressing domestic and foreign policy issues.
There are profound disagreements between the executive and legislative branches – for instance, closing the military prison at Gitmo and incarcerating accused terrorists in a prison on the mainland until they are tried in criminal court, which Congress put the kibosh on – as well as between Democrats and Republicans in Congress – for instance, whether raising taxes on the wealthy or cutting spending will be more effective in reducing the federal debt. But Obama has outsourced his leadership role to others – most notably, to Pelosi, who authored the disastrous stimulus bill –
In August when Congress was feverishly negotiating to avoid defaulting on the national debt, The Washington Post noted that Obama “looked increasingly like a bit player in the larger drama, waiting for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to do the heavy lifting and present him a debt ceiling plan.” Nothing’s changed since then. WaPo economics columnist Robert J. Samuelson marvels that “[w]e haven’t had the robust democratic debate about the role of government that lies at the heart of America’s budget stalemate” and blames the president:
Only President Obama can start such a debate. He has the bully pulpit, but he hasn’t used it. … There is no leadership from the nation’s “leader.” [Note: The use of quote marks to denote derision are Samuelson’s.]
For his part, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg chided Obama for failure in leadership after the so-called supercommittee threw in the towel on a debt reduction deal. “It’s the chief executive’s job to bring people together and to provide leadership. I don’t see that happening.”
1. A majority of voters disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job as president and no longer view him as a strong leader (53 percent and 51 percent, respectively), according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. Three-quarters also believe the country is “pretty seriously” off on the wrong track.
2. It’s not just the economy. Americans are dismayed and angered that the leaders of two countries that we selflessly sacrificed to free from tyranny are undermining our foreign policy objectives in the Middle East, with Iraq providing moral and financial support to embattled Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad and Afghanistan cozying up to Pakistan and trying to curry favor with Iran. Our influence in the region has waned to the point that “[o]ver this year of Arab Spring revolt, Saudi Arabia has increasingly replaced the United States as the key status-quo power in the Middle East,” writes David Ignatius, The WaPo’s foreign affairs columnist, adding:
For Saudi watchers, this change is striking. The kingdom’s old practice was to keep its head down, spread money to radical groups to try to buy peace, and rely on a U.S. military umbrella. …
President Obama is seen as a relatively weak leader who abandoned his own call for a Palestinian state under Israeli pressure. The United States isn’t exactly the god that failed, but its divine powers are certainly suspect in Riyadh.
A poll in May found that 47 percent think that Obama gets little or no respect from fellow world leaders – for instance, in September, French President Nicholas Sarkozy rolled Obama and took the lead at the U.N. when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was pressing for Palestinian membership – and a Time Magazine/Abt SRBI poll conducted in October found that 71 percent of Americans believed that our position in the world has been declining in the past few years. This may explain a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project that finds Americans are now “far less likely to say that their culture is better than others.” Three years of Obama apologizing for America, bowing to other world leaders and being disrespected by them has caused the majority of Americans to doubt this country’s exceptionalism for the first time in our history – 49 percent in this survey, as compared to 57 percent in 2007 and 60 percent in 2002.
3. A majority of Americans (55 percent) expect Obama to be a one-term president – and Obama’s re-electability is also in doubt amongst “[e]lected officials and party leaders at all levels,” The New York Times reports. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) tells the paper: “In my district, the enthusiasm for him has mostly evaporated. There is tremendous discontent with his direction. I have one heck of a lot of Democrats saying, ‘I voted for him before, don’t know if I can do it again.’” Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman has even called on Obama to step aside so his party could nominate a stronger candidate. Democrat pollsters Pat Caddell and Doug Shoen are also urging him to “take the moral high ground” and “abandon his candidacy for re-election” so that Hillary Clinton can become the party’s nominee by acclamation as she is capable of “saving the Democratic Party, but more important, of governing effectively.” The two men argue that “the kind of campaign required for the president's political survival would make it almost impossible for him to govern – not only during the campaign, but throughout a second term.” In other words, it’s only going to go downhill from here.
5. In September, when Obama demanded a joint session of Congress to discuss his jobs proposals, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) took great pleasure in explaining to Obama that he has to be “invited” to address Congress. And several legislators didn’t even bother to show up, because Obama has used this ploy too often and they wearied of being used as props to make the president look like he was in charge. In fact, no one in Congress listens to him anymore when urges them to “Pass this bill. Pass it now.” And the American public has tuned him out, as well – as reporters noted during a press conference about his jobs bill last month when he was asked: “[T]he American people are sick of games … Wouldn’t it be more productive to work with Republicans on a plan that you know could pass Congress as opposed to going around the country talking about your bill?” and “Are you worried about your own powers of persuasion, and maybe that the American public is not listening to you anymore?”
6. Obama himself has acknowledged that he is not in charge, and is being led by events when he blamed his administration’s failures on “bad luck.” He said this to a town hall audience in MN in August:
Over the last six months, we’ve had a string of bad luck – there have been some things that we could not control. You had an Arab Spring in the Middle East that promises more democracy and more human rights for people, but it also drove up gas prices -- tough for the economy, a lot of uncertainty. And then you have the situation in Europe, where they’re dealing with all sorts of debt challenges, and that washes up on our shores. And you had a tsunami in Japan, and that broke supply chains and created difficulties for the economy all across the globe.
Obama – who began his term promising to implement science-based policies – has now resorted to superstition to explain his administration’s failures. As syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer put it: “A comforting fantasy. But a sorry excuse for a failing economy and a flailing presidency.”
Clearly, the thrill is gone, because MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asks, “Is this as good as it gets?” Sadly, yes. Obama has given everything he’s got to the office, and it’s not good enough. Time to … what’s that pithy phrase? … move on.