Obama: ‘I Screwed Up’
In a series of previously scheduled interviews with television networks yesterday afternoon, President Obama admitted the obvious: His team’s failure to properly vet a series of high level appointments was embarrassing.
Charles Babington offers a solid assessment:
The new president, seen by some as arrogant, was anything but on Tuesday. “I screwed up,” Obama said repeatedly during a series of TV interviews. “I take responsibility for this mistake.” It was a frank admission from an Oval Office where “mistakes were made” has often been the preferred dodge.
An old story, with new actors, played out Tuesday: A new president’s team imperfectly vetted top nominees. The nominees, it turns out, had not paid taxes for household help or other services when they were private citizens. The news media and political adversaries bored in. And rather than spend more valuable time and political capital defending the appointees, the administration dropped them and moved on.
In other words, Obama may be more ordinary than some admirers would like to admit. He will surely struggle, over the coming weeks and months, with the economy, health care, military matters and Congress, much as other presidents have.
That’s hardly an indictment. But Obama’s rocket ride to the White House, his extraordinary speaking skills, and his smooth, I-don’t-sweat style had some people calling him “the one,” a once-in-a-generation political leader who could rise above his predecessors’ foibles.
I’ve been predicting this for weeks, not because I want Obama to fail but because the standards for success had been set impossibly high. He’s a gifted politician but, it seems, a mere mortal.
He has, however, handled this well. He’s quickly cut his losses and moved on. And he’s apparently learned something from his predecessor’s mistakes as well: When everyone knows you’ve screwed up, go ahead and fess up — and then change course.