Ed Driscoll

'That’s Not Governing, Dude:' The Check the Box Administration

Now is the time, SDA-style, when we juxtapose. First up, Jim Geraghty repeats this anecdote from New York magazine in November of 2009:

But the most damaging consequence of all may have been inside the White House, where bullishness about how rapidly the stimulus would kick in led to foolish projections that unemployment would peak at 8 percent—and where the bill’s passage bred a certain cockiness and complacency about the need to drive a sustained economic message in the months thereafter. “I recently talked to a very senior friend of mine in the White House, and I said, ‘How did we not spend a year talking about the economy?’ ” a Democratic think-tank maven recalls. “And he said, ‘Look, I think Barack did the stimulus and he thought he checked the box and he moved on.’ I said, ‘That’s not governing, dude. That’s some other thing.’ ”

As Mickey Kaus asked last month, “What does he do all day?”

Add the 2009 quote to this example spotted recently by James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute, which he describes as “The entire Obama presidency, in one anecdote:”

Energy was a particular obsession of the president-elect’s, and therefore a particular source of frustration. Week after week, [White House economic adviser Christina] Romer would march in with an estimate of the jobs all the investments in clean energy would produce; week after week, Obama would send her back to check the numbers. “I don’t get it,” he’d say. “We make these large-scale investments in infrastructure. What do you mean, there are no jobs?” But the numbers rarely budged.

And what is to be done about that? As Mr. Obama himself said at the start of his term in office in early 2009, “If I don’t have this done in three years, then [my presidency is] going to be a one-term proposition:”

Sure, Duffman says a lot of things. (And how.) But he’s already kept his promises about rising energy prices and shutting down vitally-needed coal plants. Let’s help him keep his four-and-out promise, as well. Because otherwise:

Barack Obama has, like most in public life, made his share of gaffes–the president of Canada, 57 states, the Austrian language, E Pluribus Unum, the pronunciation of corpsman, among others. To be sure, they are stunning signs of ignorance of things that are common wisdom for most, even Harvard alums.

Closet Obama supporters will seek to downplay the incident. But his Monday mis-step is huge politically and may well come to haunt and hurt him as Republican Mitt Romney rolls out the attack plan for this fall’s campaign and before. Of all the GOP wannabes, Romney has been Obama’s most outspoken critic, especially on the Democrat’s “failed leadership” in foreign policy.

A main strain of Romney’s assaults has been basically, Given the spending, chronic ineptness and apologies for America, can you imagine what Barack Obama would do in a second term unrestrained by any need to face voters ever again?

That’s an effective line because it leaves the worst things possible to voters’ imagination. And there is no response. What can Obama say, “My secret plans aren’t as bad as you think.”

What makes Obama’s Monday blunder so bad is that it doesn’t come from any sort of dismissable ignorance by someone who spent formative childhood years in Indonesia. It was clearly backstage conniving on Obama’s part and feeds directly into Romney’s ‘Can you imagine’ line.

Yes we can, alas.

Related: “If the president didn’t even make an effort to build a relationship with Olympia Snowe, then he didn’t make an effort to fulfill his bipartisanship promise, period. Let’s see the White House try to blame that on Republican obstructionism.” Which again comes back to Mickey’s damning question: “What does he do all day?”