Ed Driscoll

Winging—and Whinging—the Future

Sam Stein of the port-leaning Huffington Post writes that “Capitol Hill officials, including the White House’s top allies, say they were left completely in the dark” before President Obama gave his ill-prepared speech countering Republican Paul Ryan’s budget proposal:

Yet build-up to the speech illustrated more than reactions to it. Capitol Hill officials, including the White House’s top allies, say they were left completely in the dark. No one, it appears, knew Obama would deliver an address until his top aide, David Plouffe, announced plans on the Sunday shows. Key aides were briefed on its content only days (if not hours) before the president took the stage.

“Members and staffs had no idea what they were going to say until about four hours before the speech—three days after the speech was announced,” said a senior Senate Democratic aide. “It was pretty ham-handed in its roll out and members weren’t pleased.”

The abundance of secrecy left the impression that White House officials came up with the idea for Obama’s speech at the eleventh hour in an effort to divert attention away from the debate raging in Congress. “They were scrambling to change the subject from the budget debacle and this was what they latched on to,” said the aide.

Having failed to effectively brief members of Congress on the details of his plan, few lawmakers could therefore amplify the president’s message.

Administration officials, for their part, steadfastly refute the idea that they simply “winged” it.

To which Allahpundit of Hot Air responds, “Uh-huh:”

This is going to sound crazy, I know, but hear me out. Let’s say, purely hypothetically, that Obama doesn’t give a wet rip about the deficit and, to the extent that he was planning a speech months ago, it was only because he knew the new GOP House was going to raise the issue. Wouldn’t that explain why no one except his inner circle knew what would be in it until the last possible moment, and why the finished product ended up being laughably hazy on specifics? The whole thing has the ring of having been thrown together as a pure reaction to Ryan’s plan, no?

And speaking of being thrown-together, that’s also the leitmotif for what’s going on in Libya, according to the L.A. Times:

“We rushed into this without a plan,” said David Barno, a retired Army general who once commanded U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. “Now we’re out in the middle, going in circles.”

The failure of the international air campaign to force Kadafi’s ouster, or even to stop his military from shelling civilians and recapturing rebel-held towns, poses a growing quandary for President Obama and other NATO leaders: What now?

But let’s get back to DC’s fiscal woes. James Pethokoukis of Reuters proffers “5 reasons why S&P just guaranteed U.S. debt will lose AAA rating.”

Naturally, the Obama administration’s response, as with Ryan, is to publicly attack S&P as being as politicized as well, the Obama administration itself:

“I don’t think that we should make too much out of that,” top White House economist Austan Goolsbee said on MSNBC, referring to the S&P downgrade.”What the S&P is doing is making a political judgment and it is one that we don’t agree with,” he said on CNBC.

Project much, fellas? But the administration’s public cri de coeur came only after the administration privately jawboned S&P first:

WaPo: Obama administration officials tried to keep S&P rating at ‘stable’. But they were unable to hide the decline. Reader Paul Jackson emails: “I wish the WaPo had been a tad more informative about this private urging that came from the Obama administration. I’m wondering if other administrations have tried this in the past, but we don’t know since the WaPo didn’t tell us. My cynical guess is that if say the Reagan or Bush41 or Bush43 admins had done the same thing, they would have pointed this out. These guys really do think they can run the country like a ward in Chicago….amazing. I now expect that Obama will start hurling negatives at them, as that’s SOP in his playbook that has become far too predictable for a man who thinks so highly of himself and his intelligence.”

And that’s his Achilles heel, as his recent cluster-farks with both voters and non-Beltway journalists who won’t toe the party line have demonstrated:

The fact that Obama quickly gets lost in the weeds when he’s taken off message should put a big fat bull’s-eye on him for any of his opponents in his upcoming reelection campaign. A point I’ve made in other forums and repeat here is this: A sufficiently ruthless opponent would not defer to him but take any and every opportunity to discomfit him. What this, and similar episodes, shows is that he has never had to deal with a very public event, from which he cannot escape, in which he’s lost control and is being made to look bad. That thin veneer of cool would quickly melt. He doesn’t improvise well and doesn’t know when to stop digging: it’s tough when you believe deeply that you’re the smartest guy in the room. In fact, the person he least respects has the greatest opportunity here. Media mavens that run our so-called debates can be counted on to try to keep things predictable. Obama’s opponents should not accommodate that ruse.

As Michael Walsh writes, “There’s no there there with Obama, just the legend of his own invincibility. The sooner the Republicans come to grips with that, the sooner they’ll figure out how to beat him.”

But is anybody at the GOP listening?