In recent months, some observers of Barack Obama are attributing the president’s sliding approval ratings to uncomplimentary personality traits. These depictions go far beyond his seemingly detached method of governing. Frankly, it appears that the president would rather not be the leader of the free world any longer.
What does it take to be a great leader in the 21st Century? I’m sure managerial experts could provide any number of characteristics that define a leader. I want to focus on just one. Earlier today, I began reading “Blood Feud . . .” written by Edward Klein, a well-known Obama-basher. The book discusses the bad blood between the Obamas and the Clintons. Klein also wrote “The Amateur,” another tome about the shortcomings of Mr. Obama.
A few pages into “Blood Feud,” I came across a quote attributed to Vernon Jordan, D.C. powerbroker extraordinaire. He said, “Consultation is not in the DNA of the Obama administration.” Jordan was a former adviser to Bill Clinton and has worked with Obama since his first election.
The implications of Jordan’s comment really got me thinking. How could any president eschew consultation and be successful? Does Obama really believe that he can lead the greatest nation on earth with just the help of Valerie Jarrett, Michelle Obama, David Plouffe and a few others, and not confer with other informed people?
The most successful presidents in American history achieved greatness under difficult circumstances. Certainly, times have been tough for Obama, affording him a chance to build his legacy. But, many believe he is failing miserably, something that is reflected in his declining polls. What are missing in the White House are experts proficient at economics, policy, war, the Middle East, health care, etc. I believe the president has performed poorly because he is either not listening to or getting lousy advise from his current advisers (or both). And, he does not solicit help from outside his inner circle, including members of Congress.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama bamboozled the world with his dazzling personality and carefully orchestrated rhetoric. In fact, he is a talented campaigner. But political campaigns consist of promises and beautiful days ahead. The really difficult stuff begins on Inauguration Day. The selection of very well qualified advisers is critical to a president’s success. Unfortunately, Obama needed capable advisers more than most new presidents. In his first book, Klein said, “[The president] is inept in the arts of management and governance.” After only a few months as Senator, Obama was elected president primarily because he’s a great orator. He might be one of the most unprepared men to become president of the United States.
The president has had many missteps during the past six years domestically and in foreign affairs. In all fairness, Obama inherited the Great Recession, but his first initiative was to enact the Affordable Care Act and set aside the need for economic stimulus. This decision has had a long-term impact, and it prolonged the current crisis.
ACA became law without any input from Republicans because the Democrats controlled all branches of government. That soon changed and the opposition never let him forget his demeaning approach. The result has been government paralysis ever since. The situation will likely worsen as Republicans make more gains in Congress this November.
Since then, the president has not made any great strides to improve the economy, but he has attempted to govern by fiat and regulation making business more difficult in a period that screams for more economic activity. It is true that the belligerence on Capitol Hill has exasperated legislative deliberations.
In foreign policy, the situation is just as bad. Our relationship with virtually every ally and opponent is worse now than ever. American might, money and counsel carry little weight. Even the Israelis no longer believe we can deliver.
I suppose it’s too late for Obama to change. The impending elections will only increase paralysis in Washington. But, Obama can always make speeches to unions, play golf and hang out with Hollywood celebrities to pass the time until his tenure ends.