“Wow, three people who spend their lives opining about things and who have never run anything in their career fell for a guy who spent his life opining about things and who has never run anything in his career. Who’d a thunk it?”
— Brothers Judd commenter Matt Thullen, responding to Peggy Noonan’s apparent surprise (and Christopher Buckley and David Brooks’ surprise) that President Obama has been less than competent (to put it mildly) in his first executive job. Or as Ed Morrissey writes:
In other words, the President has been voting “present” for most of the first five weeks of the disaster. It’s not as if it’s the first time Obama tried to avoid responsibility for an issue or refuse to show leadership. Many of us wrote extensively about Obama’s pattern of avoidance during the election — and suggested that Democrats try Obama in a lesser executive position first, such as Governor of Illinois, before nominating him for the top spot, in order to make sure he was up for the job.
Unfortunately, some conservatives such as Noonan rebutted those arguments, choosing instead to see cool competence instead of complete inexperience and a pattern of avoidance. One can do that as a legislator with few ill effects, because in the end others will choose to lead. When that person assumes the top executive job, especially without any experience and seasoning for the job, things fall apart when disaster strikes as they have here. Only those who willingly allowed themselves to be enchanted by charisma and public relations could possibly act surprised when inexperience leads to incompetence.
I like Peggy Noonan; she was wrong about Obama, and she’s starting to realize just how wrong she was. She also concludes with some first-class analysis:
What continues to fascinate me is Mr. Obama’s standing with Democrats. They don’t love him. Half the party voted for Hillary Clinton, and her people have never fully reconciled themselves to him. But he is what they have. They are invested in him. In time—after the 2010 elections go badly—they are going to start to peel off. The political operative James Carville, the most vocal and influential of the president’s Gulf critics, signaled to Democrats this week that they can start to peel off. He did it through the passion of his denunciations.
The disaster in the Gulf may well spell the political end of the president and his administration, and that is no cause for joy. It’s not good to have a president in this position—weakened, polarizing and lacking broad public support—less than halfway through his term. That it is his fault is no comfort. It is not good for the stability of the world, or its safety, that the leader of “the indispensable nation” be so weakened. I never until the past 10 years understood the almost moral imperative that an American president maintain a high standing in the eyes of his countrymen.
That is precisely why we shouldn’t have elected a man with no executive experience to the toughest executive job in the world. We need strong leadership, especially in times of crisis, not a man who prefers to vote present rather than lead. And we probably wouldn’t have elected Obama or even nominated him this time around if the national media had done half of the job vetting Obama that they did with Sarah Palin, an atrocious failure documented best by John Ziegler in his film Media Malpractice.
As I said earlier, I like Peggy Noonan, and I’m glad to see that the scales have fallen from her eyes — but she still gets a Captain Louis Renault award for being shocked, shocked! at the incompetence of Barack Obama.
But there’s no question that faced with such pressures, the man maintains his exceptional trouser creases.