Many of us, at certain times during our lives, have believed we could do a better job than the president of the United States, just as we thought we’d do a better job than the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers or the network executive who greenlighted Real Chance of Love.
The problem tends to be that what looks so crystal clear from the outside, usually in hindsight, appears confusing, muddled, and difficult to fathom when you’re actually going through it.
That’s why experience matters, particularly executive experience, and it’s a big part of the reason why Barack Obama has done such a mediocre job so far.
Obama is a silver-tongued political novice who has managed to be in the right place at the right time.
Now, if you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. And if you’re a politician like Barack Obama, who has gotten everything he has in life by being slick and sounding confident, every problem looks like something that can just be talked away.
That tendency was on display in his 60 Minutes interview, a “grilling” which would be considered a softball interview for a Republican (“Wow, that’s a great swing set for your kids to play on. How are they liking the White House so far?”) but was still probably tougher than any interrogation Obama has received since he entered the White House. (After all, he even admitted that he gets lost in the White House “repeatedly.”)
Each time Obama got a tough question, he did what sociopathic politicians have done for decades: he lied, dodged, and talked out of both sides of his mouth. The best example of that was near the beginning of the interview when Steve Kroft asked Obama about the AIG bonuses.
Was Obama surprised by the hostility to the AIG bonuses. His answer?
I wasn’t surprised by it. Our team wasn’t surprised by it.
Well, that begs the question: if the Obama administration wasn’t surprised by the furor, why did they work with Chris Dodd to safeguard the bonuses that were in the bill? It just makes no sense. What does Obama expect us to believe? That he thought it would be cathartic for Americans to yell in outrage at his incompetence, so his administration made sure the bonuses, the same ones he later criticized, were included in the stimulus for that reason? These are the sort of very obvious bald-faced lies that Democrats like Barack Obama are perpetually allowed to get away with by sympathetic liberal reporters who don’t want to make “their side” look bad.
Another telling exchange, if you know what to look for, was Kroft’s question about the constitutionality of the attempt to tax away the bonuses of the AIG executives and Obama’s answer:
Kroft: I mean, you’re a constitutional law professor. Do you think this bill is constitutional?
Obama: Well, I think that as a general proposition, you don’t want to be passing laws that are just targeting a handful of individuals. You want to pass laws that have some broad applicability. And, as a general proposition, you don’t want to use the tax code to punish people. I think that you’ve got a pretty egregious situation here that people are understandably upset about. So, let’s see if there are ways of doing this that are both legal, that are constitutional, that uphold our basic principles of fairness, but don’t hamper us from getting the banking system back on track.
Now at first glance, that might seem to be a thoughtful answer. However, when you delve down into it, what you find is that is like many of Barack Obama’s comments, it’s utterly divorced from what he intends to do, while giving people on both sides of the case the impression that he agrees with them.
What’s really going on? Barack Obama’s administration, along with Chris Dodd, put a provision in the stimulus bill allowing companies like AIG to collect bonuses. After it became known and the public got angry, the same Democrats who supported that provision pretended to be outraged and whipped up a fury. Now, they’ve come up with a “bill of attainder” that clearly violates the Constitution and Mr. “Constitutional Law Professor” fully intends to sign it if it makes it to his desk. Is any of that communicated in his answer? No — and that’s why listening to Barack Obama actually tells us very little about what he intends to do.
However, there were a couple of instructive moments in the interview when one was able to get a sense of the instinctual leftism that is guiding Barack Obama, now that he’s so far out of his depth that he can’t even see the surface.
The first was when Kroft noted that a lot of people in the banking industry are not going to stay in New York and work for $250,000 a year if they can make more money elsewhere — so does Obama really want to set salary caps for them? Obama’s condescending response, which sounded like something that should be in Mao’s Little Red Book, Volume 2, was as follows:
What I’ve told them directly, because I have heard some of this, is they need to spend a little time outside of New York. Because if you go to North Dakota or you go to Iowa or if you go to Arkansas, where folks would be thrilled to be making $75,000 a year without a bonus, then I think they’d get a sense of why people are frustrated. I think we have to understand the severity of the crisis that we’re in right now. The fact is, because of bad bets made on Wall Street, there have been enormous losses. There were a whole bunch of folks who, on paper, if you looked at quarterly reports, were wildly successful selling derivatives that turned out to be completely worthless.
First of all, it’s worth noting that Obama earned 2.5 million dollars from his book sales in 2008 and brings home a cool $400,000 a year for being president. What do you think the folks down in North Dakota, Iowa, and Arkansas think of that? Why is Barack Obama more deserving of that money than someone who works at a bank? If you say they’re taking the public’s money, well — newsflash — every government employee, including Barack Obama, is taking the public’s money. Setting those sort of arbitrary salary limits for bank employees — driven not by the market, but by what some economically illiterate politician thinks is “fair” — is practically guaranteed to have adverse consequences down the line.
Beyond that, it’s extraordinarily troubling, given our current situation, that Obama is trying to pawn this entire crisis off on Wall Street when Congress created the whole mess by forcing banks to give loans to people who were bad risks. That’s not to say irresponsible people on Wall Street are completely blameless, but “bad bets on Wall Street” certainly weren’t at the root of this economic downturn.
So, here’s where we are: the same government that created this crisis with their incompetence is now blaming it all on Wall Street and promising to fix it. No wonder the American people are terrified that we’re about to slip into a long-term depression.
The other illuminating moment in the interview came when Kroft brought up Dick Cheney’s criticism of closing Guantanamo Bay. Again, the unbearable lightness of Barack Obama came shining through like a beacon. Here is the first key quote from Obama’s response,
After all these years, how many convictions came out of Guantanamo? How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney? It hasn’t made us safer.
If Obama believes that the purpose of Gitmo is to get “convictions” of terrorists, you have to question whether he has even the most basic understanding of the war on terror he’s currently in charge of fighting.
Gitmo is there to hold captured terrorists, to keep them from killing more Americans, and for interrogations that are designed to gain information for that same purpose. Obviously, terrorists held at Guantanamo can’t participate in new attacks, but even the limited amount of info that has been revealed publicly has shown that we’ve gotten a lot of actionable intelligence from interrogations at Gitmo,
Interrogating Gitmoites yields priceless intelligence. Al-Qaeda bigwig Abu Zubaydah kept mum until interrogators played him the Red Hot Chili Peppers – at high volume. After they turned down the stereo, Zubaydah unmasked al Qaeda agents Omar al-Faruq, Rahim al-Nashiri and Ramzi bin al-Shibh.
Khalid Sheik Mohammed switched from taciturn to talkative after a few minutes of unpleasant but non-fatal waterboarding. With his guidance, counter-terrorists nabbed accused butchers such as Majid Khan, Bali bomber Hambali, Rusman “Gun Gun” Gunawan, Yazid Suffat, Jose “Dirty Bomber” Padilla and Iyman Faris, who conspired to plunge the Brooklyn Bridge into the East River.
This is what we’re abandoning — but, for what? When Kroft asked Obama what comes next for the terrorists imprisoned at Gitmo, he didn’t seem to know,
Well, I think we’re going to have to figure out a mechanism to make sure that they are not released on U.S. (inaudible), but do so in a way that is consistent both with our traditions, a sense of due process, and international law.
So Obama has announced we’re closing Gitmo, but he still hasn’t figured out what comes next? Isn’t that a bit of an issue, since we have these terrorists in hand, will presumably be capturing more, and even the New York Times is admitting that European nations are “hedging” on helping us with Gitmo inmates? Shouldn’t Obama have thought this all the way through before he decided to close down Guantanamo Bay?
For people looking for signs of straight talk, competence, or substance from the glib teleprompter junky who inhabits the White House, sadly there was precious little of it in his 60 Minutes performance.