American Elephants

Arrogance and a Nice Baritone Voice Don’t Make Up for a Lack of Experience. by The Elephant's Child

Scary times, in more ways than one.  The marvelous Michael Ramirez captures the big one, the economic mess that an economically illiterate administration has created.  Another, that often goes unnoticed, is the enormous gap in world view and view of reality between the parties.

I am always amazed at those who claim that there is no difference between the two parties. When we speak of the parties, we are talking about politicians, and, humanity being what it is, there are always miscreants on both sides, and plenty of plain old mistakes. But the difference in worldview, understanding of history, and appreciation for the wonders of the Constitution and it’s success in preserving the American idea, creates a sharp difference.

Case in point: a column at Bloomberg by Jonathan Alter, titled “The Obama Miracle, a White House Free of Scandal.” You could almost hear jaws dropping across the country.

President Barack Obama goes into the 2012 with a weak economy that may doom his reelection. But he has one asset that hasn’t received much attention: He’s honest. …

Although it’s possible that the Solyndra LLC story will become a classic feeding frenzy, don’t bet on it. Providing $535 million in loan guarantees to a solar-panel maker that goes bankrupt was dumb, but so far not criminal or even unethical on the part of the administration. These kinds of stories are unlikely to derail Obama in 2012. If he loses, it will be because of the economy — period. …

The vigilance about wrongdoing has worked better when it comes to oversight of the $787 billion stimulus program. The money might not always have been spent on the right things. But a rigorous process supervised by Vice President Joe Biden, and made transparent with the help of, has prevented widespread fraud and abuse.

There were 1,555 comments to that column, mostly in the nature of — WTF!

On Friday, Politico published an interview with Obama’s chief of staff, Bill Daley.  Daley referred to the first three years of Obama’s administration as “ungodly” and once as “brutal.” Politico pointed out the Real Clear Politics average of leading polls that have Obama at 44.0 percent approval and 50.7 disapproval.

That is due to many factors, Daley says, and he starts reeling them off: trying to stimulate the economy; trying to save the auto industry; trying to increase the debt ceiling; passing health care legislation; fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; and dealing with Syria, North Korea, Egypt and Iran. To name a few.

“It’s been a brutal three years,” he says. “It’s been a very, very difficult three years, an incredible three years. And we are doing all this under the  overhang of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. F—k! It wasn’t like all this was happening in good times.”…

All he has to do, Daley says, is operate in domestic affairs with the same  speed, power and independence that he possesses in foreign and military affairs.

The president’s solution, Daley says, is to figure out what we can do without Congress, to push the envelope.  But Congress is even less popular than the president, so they are trying to “do something in this modern presidency that has been very much engulfed by the legislative process, Democrat and Republican over the last 40 years,” Daley said.

President Obama has said recently that he has done everything right. He is claiming a lot of foreign policy success from the executions of bin Laden and Gaddafi, and finally sending the free trade agreements with Columbia, ,Panama and South Korea to Congress after 3 years on his desk.

Peter Berkowitz begs to differ. Berkowitz, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, takes up Obama’s foreign policy in “The Importance of Being Experienced.”

President Obama’s belief in the supremacy of rhetoric has left him
particularly incapable of drawing lessons from experience. His propensity to chalk up setbacks to deficiencies in explaining himself or, as he recently put it in an interview on Black Entertainment Television, “telling a story to the American people” is hardly surprising. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you believe that the essence of politics is speech, then you will perceive failure as failure to communicate.

In 2008, Obama claimed—to the approval of an adoring and credulous media—that running his presidential campaign gave him the necessary experience to be president. He certainly was astonishingly successful in simultaneously appealing to progressives and moderates while obscuring his transformative goals.

But not all knowledge is equal and not all experience is fungible. Knowledge of branding and selling oneself differs from knowledge of the economy, of foreign affairs, and national security. And experience in manufacturing and manipulating words and images is no substitute for the experience of crafting wise policy and executing it responsibly.

Obamanomics has been a disaster. This has not been the worst recession since the Great Depression, much as Obama likes to claim that he inherited a disaster from President Bush. Instead of the actions that have been proven to help an economy recover swiftly, Obama embarked on a round of funneling taxpayer money to his campaign supporters, taking over the automobile industry illegally, pushing an unworkable health care plan on an unwilling public, and squandering public money on his ideological (unworkable) goals.

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