One of my favorite bits of practical advice is “when you find yourself in a deep hole, stop digging.”
The hole that Barack Obama finds himself in, while largely due to his policy positions, is also a function of his seeming out of his league, a man-child who was elected to an office he was unprepared to hold, perhaps the only candidate for president who made Sarah Palin look like an experienced and worldly statesman in comparison (and who continues to perform that remarkable feat today).
Obama is not offering much new in the way of policy — fortunately for the nation, still suffering from a tremendous bout of indigestion over Obamacare, cap-and-trade (being implemented by the EPA regardless of lack of congressional action), Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and his failed effort to shutter Guantanamo Bay (because Muslim radicals in Yemen will hate us so much less if their Mohammedan brothers are kept in frigid northern Illinois instead of their current Caribbean resort).
Thus, his biggest ongoing issue is the reinforcement of the perception among Americans and foreigners alike that America has its most unpresidential president since at least Jimmy Carter, and perhaps in its history.
Early in his term, he seemed aloof, as if he felt above the governing process. Now we know it’s because he’s incompetent, if not an outright hindrance, in that process. He, perhaps the most leftist member of the U.S. Senate during his time there, can’t convince the most leftist House of Representatives since the FDR Administration to go along with his tax “deal,” the best deal he’s going to get given the upcoming change in majority in the House and lessening of the Democrat majority in the Senate.
So, in order to try to sway House Democrats who were in revolt to the extent of some yelling “f**k Obama” during a House Democratic Caucus meeting about the “deal,” Obama felt the need to meet with and then display the peacock president, i.e. the president most interested in displaying himself, Bill Clinton.
It was a sharp contrast to the recent book-promoting TV appearances by George W. Bush. Bush is routinely asked why he’s been all but invisible in public discussion of government policy and his answer is consistently (and I’m paraphrasing now) that he thinks ex-presidents should focus on the “ex” part and leave governing to the current office holder. Meddling by ex-presidents seems to be a tendency of Democrats (just another symptom of the Progressive holier-and-smarter-than-thou mindset), whether Clinton or Carter, whereas both Bushes and even Reagan and Ford led distinctly private post-presidency lives, or at least refrained from acting like some sort of public senior adviser to the president. George W. Bush has said repeatedly that he basically never asked his father for serious policy advice — and implied that his father wouldn’t have wanted to be asked.
So now we have Barack “Peter Principle” Obama walking up to a hastily-called press conference with Bill Clinton who is probably thinking that Hillary might have an opening to run in 2012 despite all her protestations and who is therefore glad to do anything that boosts the Clinton name while damaging Obama at Obama’s remarkably naive invitation.
It would have been bad enough for Obama’s stature to have a joint press conference with Bill Clinton — the same guy who urged the House to pass Obamacare because not passing it would mean Democrat losses in the election (doh!) — but Obama actually ceded the stage to Clinton, like a low-level flunkie introducing the boss, like an emcee introducing the keynote speaker. Clinton preened and displayed for the better part of half an hour, showing the press corps and all the world the communications skills that Obama, for all his early vaunted talents as an orator, is distinctly and damagingly missing, at least when he is sans-teleprompter.
And it would have been bad enough if Obama ceded the stage to Clinton but stayed in the room and answered questions at the end. But instead, he said “I’ve been keeping the First Lady waiting for about half an hour, so I’m going to take off…” to which Bill offered the helpful response “I don’t want to make her mad, please go.” We can all be our own screenwriters of the tragicomic lines representing what he was really thinking…
So, let’s get this straight, Mr. President: The fate of a tax measure that is of critical import for an economy with a near-10% unemployment rate, a measure that will impact directly or indirectly a 9-digit number of Americans, and a measure with political ramifications potentially as large as Obamacare’s is to be left in the hands of an ex-president (did I mention “ex“?) because your wife is waiting?
The political naïveté of Barack Obama is becoming, even more than his far-left agenda, his political Achilles’ heel. Given what Barack Obama believes in and hopes to achieve, perhaps America is Troy to Obama’s Achilles. He was the strongest warrior the “transformers” of America could send our way, but even he was vulnerable — even to the point of destruction — in an area that few would have considered the most likely to be attacked on their particular fields of battle.
Obama’s weakness is America’s gain, though perhaps not as much as it is Bill Clinton’s gain.