Ed Driscoll

The Accidental Tourist

“Obama’s serial dishonesty is at least assisted by the fact that he doesn’t often encounter people who disagree with him, and doesn’t appear to have much patience or interest in having his ideas challenged,” Jim Geraghty writes in a new, must-read “Morning Jolt” column. “It is increasingly clear Obama has no idea how the project is actually progressing; he’s walking around in his own mobile bubble of happy talk. And this explains a lot about Obama’s presidency.”

After mentioning Chuck Todd of NBC noted on Friday that the president doesn’t believe he’s a serial liar when it comes to promising the American voters that they could keep their healthcare insurance, Jim runs down the number of times the man sold to the American public as “no drama Obama” (ahh, good times, good times) is a perpetually surprised president surrounded by yes men feeding him nothing but happy talk. At least until recent weeks, when they’ve likely been feeding him carton after carton of Marlboro 100s to get him through so much bad news about Obamacare, it has to finally be breaking through the otherwise impenetrable forcefield that keeps reality out of Obama’s oval office:

Gene Healy points out that we’re getting another wave of “Obama’s problem is that he’s an introvert and not a good schmoozer” columns and essays, and concludes, “Introverts — present company excepted — can make good presidents. Obama’s current predicament stems in large part from his flexible relationship with the truth — a personality flaw that has nothing to do with his sometimes solitary nature.”

Actually, Obama’s serial dishonesty is at least assisted by the fact that he doesn’t often encounter people who disagree with him, and doesn’t appear to have much patience or interest in having his ideas challenged.

Dana Milbank noticed this after his disastrous first debate performance:

In the hours after the Republican challenger Mitt Romney embarrassed the incumbent in their first meeting, Obama loyalists expressed puzzlement that the incumbent had done badly. But Obama has only himself to blame, because he set himself up for Wednesday’s emperor-has-no-clothes moment. For the past four years, he has worked assiduously to avoid being questioned, maintaining a regal detachment from the media and other sources of dissent and skeptical inquiry.

… In lieu of taking hard questions, Obama has opted for gauzy, soft-focus interviews with the likes of “Entertainment Tonight,” gentle appearances on late-night comedy shows, kid-glove satellite hits with regional TV stations, and joint appearances with the first lady where questions are certain to be gentle. Tough questions are rare in one-on-one interviews, because Obama has more control over the topic — and the interviewer wants to be invited back.

And again on Syria:

As Obama staffed the White House for his second term, there was criticism that he was isolating himself by promoting loyal aides who lacked the independent standing to tell him when he was making a mistake. Now, regarding Syria, we see the consequences.

As a result of that, Obama gets blindsided on a regular basis. George Will summarized the highest-profile examples

“He seems to think that his job as chief executive is not to be the executive but to be angry at his own administration when it doesn’t perform well,” said the syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor. “Fast and Furious, the IRS, Benghazi, NSA, investigation of our Mr. Rosen, there’s just a list of things that surprise him.”

But there are plenty of other times Obama’s been surprised by the result of his own policies. He seemed to think that reaching out to the Iranians would lead to a change in the regime’s behavior and attitudes. Then he thought they would appreciate him not calling them out on their atrocities; he later regretted his “muted” stance during the regime’s bloody crackdown in 2009.

He was surprised to learn that shovel-ready projects were not, in fact, shovel-ready.

He was surprised to learn that large-scale investment in infrastructure and clean-energy projects wouldn’t create enormous numbers of new jobs.

He was surprised that his past housing policies hadn’t helped struggling homeowners as he had promised.

The “recession turned out to be a lot deeper than any of us realized.”

When a woman says her semiconductor-engineer husband can’t find a job, Obama said he was surprised to hear it, because “he often hears business leaders in that field talk of a scarcity of skilled workers.”

As I wrote in a previous Jolt, some cynics might look at this pattern and conclude that Obama isn’t as smart as he thinks he is — or as his fans think he is. But it’s probably more accurate to offer some variation of the Reagan line, that the problem with Obama isn’t that he’s ignorant; it’s just that he knows so much that isn’t so.

Also from Jim: “Democrats Must Now Fight to Make Sure You Can’t Get Your Old Health Insurance Plan Back.”

Taken together, and it’s almost as if Obama the perpetual grad student would have made a much better professor of Marxist post-colonial deconstructionist studies at a Chicago university rather than advancing from having a cup of coffee in the Senate to becoming president. Other than half the country, who knew?