President Barack Obama is an Ivy League-educated man of considerable intelligence and ambition who has surrounded himself with numerous experts to help in his decision-making. With these advantages, he has tried a number of things to help the country domestically and in the area of foreign affairs. But at the end of the day, how does Obama’s efficacy in office compare to that of a sack of hammers?
It’s somewhat difficult to judge the performance of a president with all the factors that need to be considered and trying to figure out the president’s effect on them, but perhaps the best way to accurately assess the effectiveness of a president is to judge him against the expected performance of a sack of hammers in a similar situation (which is known as the “Coolidge Test”). Basically, the question is: Instead of electing the current president, would the country have been better off taking a burlap sack to Ace Hardware, filling it with approximately one hundred dollars worth of hammers, and placing that in the Oval Office?
As long as it’s an old burlap sack and the hammers were made in America, this is a perfectly constitutional option for president. It’s never been tried, though, so it only exists as a hypothetical. Nevertheless, the nature of a sack of hammers is pretty easy to predict, so we can accurately assess how it would have performed in similar situations versus the more ambitious and active people who tend to be elected president. So let’s go through the issues that Barack Obama has dealt with and, in as fair and balanced a manner as possible, determine whether he has performed better, worse, or about the same as a sack of hammers.
Stimulating the Economy
The obvious first problem President Obama had to deal with when taking office was the failing economy. The economy is dictated by more factors than a human mind could ever hope to comprehend or control, so obviously this is an area where a sack of hammers tends to excel. But Obama, much like other presidents filled with meat and goo instead of hammers, felt compelled to react to the crisis by doing something drastic, even when the situation was beyond his comprehension. Thus Obama spent an exorbitant amount — throwing billions of dollars around in a panicked and haphazard fashion, hoping some of that money would lead to economic growth and job creation. The results we see now are a further depressed economy with no near-term hope of recovery, plus increased debt which adds to the country’s instability.
In the same situation, a sack of hammers would not have panicked. It seems to better understand that a president can’t actually create jobs or improve businesses and thus would simply stay out of the way and let the complex economy solve its own problems through the process of capitalism. This would have created an atmosphere of much greater stability while also not adding enormous amounts to our debt. The only strike against a sack of hammers is that it would have let the Bush tax cuts automatically expire, but overall its calmer, steadier approach to the economy would have had many more advantages than Obama’s frantic approach.
JUDGMENT: Obama does much worse than a sack of hammers in stimulating the economy.
This is an area in which pretty much everyone agrees reform is needed, but a sack of hammers would have no interest in changing the status quo. Of course, after ObamaCare, Americans would love to return to that status quo and shed the new, expensive legislation and its negative effects on jobs.
JUDGMENT: Obama does worse than a sack of hammers on health care.
Gulf Oil Spill
The Gulf oil spill is one of the few areas in which Obama employed the same strategy as a sack of hammers, doing nothing for a few weeks. Eventually, he became engaged in the issue and threatened to put together a panel of experts so he’d know “whose ass to kick.” A sack of hammers, on the other hand, never listens to experts.
JUDGMENT: A virtual tie. If you value false bravado, you can give a slight edge to Obama over a sack of hammers.
Middle East Conflicts
A sack of hammers is an isolationist at heart, as it has little interest in getting involved in foreign conflicts. Still, it would have left the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq in the hands of the generals. This is in contrast to Obama, who made his own demands on troop levels beyond the recommendations of the generals.
The main difference between Obama and a sack of hammers would be in Libya. A sack of hammers would never have started a new conflict there.
JUDGMENT: Mixed. A sack of hammers would certainly have been better at not inserting politics into military decisions in our current wars, but the final judgment comes down to whether one considers intervention in Libya important. If you do, you can give a slight edge to Obama, but if you’re against new conflicts in the Middle East, a sack of hammers is clearly the better choice.
Many people consider leadership to be important to a presidency, and a sack of hammers would have absolutely no interest in this role. It would never consider rousing the American people to action or trying to enact social change; instead it would just sit out of the way and let everyone do their own thing.
Barack Obama has at least tried to be a leader. He’s given numerous speeches — something a sack of hammers would never do — and attempted to inspire people at times. The end results haven’t been great, and mainly people are just annoyed when he interrupts their TV shows, but at least he’s trying.
JUDGMENT: Obama does somewhat better than a sack of hammers at being a leader.
Obama has tried to improve relations with other nations with mixed results. Some of our closest allies, such as the British, have felt snubbed at times, and despite Obama’s outreach to Muslims, America’s popularity in the Middle East has dropped. Also, Obama has done odd things like bow to foreign sovereigns, which has undermined America’s image of authority.
A sack of hammers would be extremely aloof toward foreign leaders. This might seem negative at times, but one of the best ways to assert dominance is to ignore others. In this way, many foreign leaders would probably come to respect — and perhaps slightly fear — the sack of hammers and its mysterious, unreadable attitude.
It seems unlikely that a sack of hammers would receive a Nobel Peace Prize like Obama, but who in the world knows how those people think?
JUDGMENT: Obama is slightly worse than a sack of hammers in the area foreign relations.
The debt has been a huge problem for the country for some time. In fact, to even consider balancing the budget we will need drastic cuts to many entitlements. Obviously, a sack of hammers is averse to doing anything labeled “drastic” and would have just left spending at its current level. This seems bad, but it’s much better than President Obama, who has only added to the annual deficit while in charge. With a sack of hammers, it is unlikely that by now spending would have increased to the level that caused our credit downgrade with S&P.
Also, long term, the sack of hammers’ strategy would have forced a balanced budget, as it would never considering raising the debt ceiling. This would have forced many budget cuts before the debt limit was ever reached.
JUDGMENT: Obama does immensely worse than a sack of hammers in the area of the national debt.
Taking all these areas into consideration, it’s pretty easy to see that a sack of hammers would be a much better president than Obama. This isn’t to say that Obama is dumber than a sack of hammers — a ridiculous assertion — it’s just to say that he’s much worse at being a president than one.
Of course, this is all hypothetical, as you’ll never find a sack of hammers with the fire in the belly necessary to both run for president and win. Perhaps that’s a problem in our system of democracy that someone like a sack of hammers, who would be an above average to great president, could never be elected.
Interestingly, the place where a sack of hammers would excel the most would be the post presidency. If you’re Habitat for Humanity and want to build a bunch of houses, which would be more useful to you: another Jimmy Carter or a sack full of hammers?