Tue, 03 Feb 2009 21:16:58 +0000 – By Richard MillerAuthor, "In Words and Deeds: Battle Speeches in History"
The issues raised in a campaign usually have little to do with the flying fur of real governance, but I'm beginning to wonder about President Obama. During the campaign, John McCain made much of his own experience -- and Obama's lack of any -- until McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate and thus took the experience issue off the table.
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But after only two weeks, Obama has revived the experience issue in some very troubling ways.
First, he mishandled his biggest challenge: the creation and passage of a stimulus bill. This should have been the rock of his first year in office, a honeymoon blessed by the media, academia and bipartisan goodwill. It should have been a bill that put shovels, picks and paychecks in the hands of working Americans.
Is it possible that the Obama presidency peaked on Inauguration Day?Nancy Pelosi economic stimulus
Worse is the president's continuing "bad luck" with comments.
This time, it hasn't been anything about bitter "clingers" or joy-through-spreading-the-wealth; rather, he retracted anything he might have gained through his bipartisan public relations efforts when he declined the Republicans' attempt at compromise with the tart answer, "I won." And he certainly did win the election -- and also the growing ownership of the economic crisis.
By appearing to side unthinkingly with Congress, Obama's current Real Clear Politics' average approval rating of almost 62% might begin to approach Congress' approval rating of 27.3%. I'd say that Pelosi Co. rolled our president, and good.
Next, Obama has foolishly allowed himself to be drawn into a hissing contest with conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh. While this can only help shore up Rush's base and maybe add some listeners, it's unseemly for a president and can only diminish him. Most of Obama's predecessors understood the old saw that "you don't argue with people who buy their ink by the barrel," or its high-tech equivalent. President Bush's mistakes never included fecklessness (or gracelessness) in naming opponents. I think Rush successfully baited and then rolled the president.
Do you see a pattern here? It's been suggested that one of Obama's less desirable traits is arrogance. Will it be his undoing? In the broad sweep of history, such hubris has certainly undone lesser men.
And worse for the country, is it possible that the Obama presidency peaked on Inauguration Day? Far too early to say, but of this much I am sure: good looks, intelligence and perhaps even innate charm may accrue by birth--but experience is not hereditary.