Jack of all trades, master of none. An old saying and an apt description of Obama in his first seven and a half months in office. The Obama team has tried to do much but has achieved perilously little and the size and speed of their undertakings are hurting their results.
Some telling examples of what this president has tried and results as of this week:
Ramming a huge â€œstimulusâ€� bill through Congress in less than a month after taking office? Sure. However, quotes still have to be used around the word stimulus since only about 10% of the $787 billion has been actually spent, the rest is caught up in an elaborate web of red tape.
Attempting to overhaul the financial system without any concrete plans? Yes! Treasury Secretary Geithner resorted to cursing at FDIC and SEC heads Sheila Blair and Mary Shapiro, respectively, when they dared to question the Obama teamâ€™s strategy on this issue. This project is currently stalled notwithstanding another vague and downcast speech delivered by the president this week on Wall Street.
Reforming health care, 1/6th of our economy, in 6 weeks? According to Obama, why not?
The reason is that the American people are oversaturated by and are tired of:
- Proposals to push through broad and drastic changes with inordinate speed in order to deal with problems that need a nuanced approach.
- The skyrocketing deficit -- predicted to reach $10 trillion if any one of the present health care bills is passed.
The president has now been forced to push the restart button by delivering a speech to a Joint Session of Congress to try to avoid an embarrassing defeat in his first year. The speech was characteristically full of broad statements and promises, â€œI will not sign any health care bill which adds as much as a dollar to the deficit,â€� but devoid of specifics. The administration wants to achieve drastic change as soon as possible, with no consideration for the dangers of such a shortsighted approach.
The list of unfinished and sloppy undertakings goes on: â€œcap-and-tradeâ€� climate change, drawdown in Iraq, the cyber-security bill, appointment of a slew of policy, â€œczarsâ€� and Cash for Clunkers are all programs that have either stalled out or, in the case of Cash for Clunkers and the czars have been executed so poorly it hurt the very purpose of the plan itself.
It is not just Republicans who are voicing concern with the frantic pace with which this President is seeking to govern, it is the Democrats as well. Democrats of all stripes are worried that the Presidentâ€™s agenda is â€œsucking the oxygen outâ€� of their own legislative efforts while moderate, â€œblue dogâ€� Democrats are concerned that if they continue to be pressured by the overly aggressive White House to vote for drastic change their stay in Washington DC will be cut short by the 2010 midterm elections. Those elections are speedily approaching and due in part to the actions of the administration will likely result in Republicans gaining significant ground in both houses of Congress.
The reason for these significant miscalculations is a word that Senator McCain repeated time and time again last fall: experience. Executive experience which this president lacks. President Obama is learning on the job and it shows.
The answer for this presidency is to slow down, to consider the approval ratings and realize that they do not have a blank check from the American public and that their political capital tank is getting closer and closer to running empty. The answer is to pick an issue, concentrate and become a master of it, take time to work with legislators on both sides of the aisle and come to a sensible solution that will not result in millions of people coming out to scream their displeasure.
This President still has an opportunity to enact some of the change he spoke of so often during the campaign, he just has to realize that change does not, and should not, come at a frantic pace.
Boris Epshteyn is a political strategist, attorney and business consultant in New York City. Boris served as a communications aide on the McCain â€“ Palin 2008 Presidential campaign and is a frequent panelist on FOXNews.com's "The Strategy Room." Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.