The Failures Of Obama’s Leadership
Fairly or not, the President has created the impression that he is not a good leader, and there's not much he can do about it at this point.
With the news filled with headlines of international chaos in Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq, Libya, and Syria—just to name five world hot spots—and domestic politics being riled by everything from immigration and a border crisis to ongoing budget disputes, President Obama is once again coming under criticism for seeming to ignore what’s going on around him. Much of this criticism, to be fair, is partisan in nature and not all that different from what we’ve heard from Republicans for the past five years. At the same time, though, the President is finding himself coming under criticism by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for seemingly standing back and not doing anything to prod Congress into acting on the border crisis beyond giving speeches and polls continue to show that the public has lost confidence in the President’s leadership, something that we have seen for several months now.
Peggy Noonan echoed that theme in a July 4th column at The Wall Street Journal:
Barack Obama doesn’t seem to care about his unpopularity, or the decisions he’s made that have not turned out well. He doesn’t seem concerned. A guess at the reason: He thinks he is right about his essential policies. He is steering the world toward not relying on America. He is steering America toward greater dependence on and allegiance to government. He is creating a more federally controlled, Washington-centric nation that is run and organized by progressives. He thinks he’s done his work, set America on a leftward course, and though his poll numbers are down now, history will look back on him and see him as heroic, realistic, using his phone and pen each day in spite of unprecedented resistance. He is Lincoln, scorned in his time but loved by history.
He thinks he is in line with the arc of history, that America, for all its stops and starts, for all the recent Supreme Court rulings, has embarked in the long term on governmental and cultural progressivism. Thus in time history will have the wisdom to look back and see him for what he really was: the great one who took every sling and arrow, who endured rising unpopularity, the first black president and the only one made to suffer like this.
That’s what he’s doing by running out the clock: He’s waiting for history to get its act together and see his true size.
He’s like someone who’s constantly running the movie “Lincoln” in his head. It made a great impression on him, that movie. He told Time magazine, and Mr. Remnick, how much it struck him. President Lincoln of course had been badly abused in his time. Now his greatness is universally acknowledged. But if Mr. Obama read more of Lincoln, he might notice Lincoln’s modesty, his plain ways, his willingness every day to work and negotiate with all who opposed him, from radical abolitionists who thought him too slow to supporters of a negotiated peace who thought him too martial. Lincoln showed respect for others. Those who loved him and worked for him thought he showed too much. He was witty and comical but not frivolous and never shallow. He didn’t say, “So sue me.” He never gave up trying to reach agreement and resolution.
This weekend at The Telegraph, Matt K. Lewis raises a very similar argument, wondering if perhaps the President hasn’t basically checked out:
Candidates for president who brazenly assume they are the inevitable victor are sometimes accused of “measuring the drapes” for the White House.
Obama, conversely, seems to be prematurely packing his bags in hopes for an early departure.
Just last week, for example, the Los Angeles Times reported that “The First Family is believed to be in escrow on a contemporary home in a gated community where entertainers Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby once maintained estates”.
The fact that the press would find relevance in speculating on Obama’s post-White House residence – and identify California as the kind of scene the future ex-president would want to hang out in when he leaves office – is perhaps telling.
And, indeed, this comes on the heels of multiple reports from outlets such as The New York Times and Politico, detailing how Obama has increasingly been spending his time at trendy restaurants and fancy, late-night dinner parties with celebrities and various intellectuals.
Rubbing elbows with the rich and elite is fine enough. Unfortunately, the work suffers. The degree to which he is now phoning it in – sleepwalking perfunctorily through his second term – is astonishing.
And based on his recent handling of situations much more serious than a possible post-presidential move to sunny California, it seems as if “No Drama Obama” is no longer even worried about keeping up appearances; he doesn’t care enough to fake it.
Consider this: In recent days, a) Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down, apparently by Russian separatists in Ukraine, b) In the Gaza strip, the numbers killed continued to mount as Israelis and Palestinians exchange rocket fire, c) a huge influx of children fleeing Central American poverty and gang warfare swamped America’s southern border, creating a humanitarian crisis. And, oh yeah, d) Christians living in Mosul were given the choice to either convert to Islam or flee the area they have inhabited for nearly two thousand years.
You know what else has happened during this time? a) Obama played many rounds of golf, b) he attended numerous fund-raisers, c) he dined on barbecue in Texas and burgers in Delaware, and d) he almost appeared on the comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night television show in Hollywood.
I say “almost” because the White House finally relented. “We ultimately elected not to have the president do that interview over the course of this trip,” the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, conceded. “And that is at least in part related to the challenges of doing a comedy show in the midst of some of these other more serious matters that the president’s dealing with in the international scene.”
As a general rule, I think that the criticisms that have been leveled against President Obama regarding things like how he spends his leisure time are unfair. As both and I others here at OTB have noted before, the criticisms of things such as how many times the President has golfed over the past five years (see here, here and here for commentary on that topic) or the fact that he has spent summers vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard or the Christmas holiday in Hawaii are silly. First of all, the President is never really “on a break” whether he’s on the golf course at Andrews Air Force Base or vacationing. Everywhere he goes he is, of course, accompanied not only by a phalanx of security, but also but numerous aides, the ability to be contacted by the White House at any given moment, and, of course, the guy with the nuclear football, not to mention a press contingent. Secondly, he idea that he’s actually skipping out on work that he needs to do on any of these occasions is utterly absurd both for these reasons, and because of the simple fact that, as President his job largely involves receiving information and giving instructions to others based on that information. The President doesn’t go out on his own and implement the policy he sets, he doesn’t personally lead the military actions or intelligence operations that he authorizes, and the doesn’t build the roads that the transportation bill he signed funds. When people start complaining about the fact that the President is away from the White House, whether he’s golfing, or on vacation, or fundraising, then, they’re are displaying something of a misunderstanding of what the Presidency is all about and what a President does or realistically can do. A President who shuts himself or herself inside the White House every time there is some domestic or international crisis isn’t really going to accomplish much of anything, except perhaps create the perception that a given situation is more serious than it actually is.
All that being said, it does seem quite apparent that President Obama is at least creating the perception that he is disengaged from the problems of the nation and the world, and I’d suggest that this is at least in part related to issues about his leadership abilities that go back to the beginning of his Presidency. Perhaps due in no small part to the fact that he came into office with no executive experience and a political resume that essentially involved being a backbench Democrat in the Illinois Legislature and a Senator in Washington. That resume does not appear to have served him well when it comes to dealing with Congress, even when it was controlled by his own party, or working on the international stage. In the case of these particular crises and the state that the world finds itself in today, Obama seems to be creating the impression that he has disengaged. Even if it isn’t true, and I suspect that it isn’t, this isn’t a smart impression to be leaving either with the general public or the world as a whole. On some level at least, the American people need to believe that the President is on top of what is happening in the world and taking the actions necessary to protect American interests. As the polling indicates, both in general and on specific issues such as the economy and foreign policy, the public has generally lost confidence in the President as a leader, and that’s not good either for the President or the country.
At this point, I’m not certain what I’d suggest the President do to turn this around, assuming that’s even possible. There’s no rational reason for him to stop golfing on the weekends or cancel vacation plans. Perhaps toning down the fundraising would be in order, especially when it becomes so conspicuous that even the press is talking about it, and about the fact that they are consistently barred from reporting on what the President says at these events. Indeed, on some level, the issue here isn’t so much about the President doing something so much as it is about him being a leader, which is as much a matter of appearance as it is one of substance. For the most part the public impressions about the President’s leadership abilities are set in stone thanks to the events of the past five years. Some of the perception that has set in is due, no doubt, to the incessant criticisms from Republicans in Congress, but in the end the President has nobody to blame for the situation he finds himself in but himself.
The usual lefites were screaming bloody murder about Bush playing golf. Its why he gave it up.
Silly? Sure, and I said so at the time. And got attacked for saying so.
But they all come out to defend Dear Leader’s frequent trips to the links. The point being, silly critisism it may well, be, but equal treatment? No, its clear the concept of equal treatment, is beyond the left.
As to the rest…
The perceptions of Obama, are much the same as the perceptions of Carter… and that is primarily due to the results in both cases. Same policy, same results. And the left keeps thinking if they keep running this play, someone will get it right. Which of course, Franklin defined as one form of insanity.
Obama strikes me as the kind of guy who doesn’t like group work (eg he is the guy who wants to go off in the corner and get the project done on his own and his way) and working with congress from the executive requires group work.
I don’t really think Israel is his fault or Iraq but his foreign policy seems to be floundering at the moment in that neither Israel or Hamas seem to care what the US says and Iraq is a mess and he doesn’t seem to have the skills to pull congress together for any kind of workable resolution-nobody wants to put soldiers back in Iraq.
You didn’t mention Syria and even the media has Syria on the back burned but the weird relations with Russia are also part of what’s going wrong with Syria.
The real concerns where his leadership seems lacking are with Russia and the border crisis. He seems to know what he wants but he can’t even rally his own party to do much-he has to work with the House-yes it’s clear he doesn’t really want to work with the GOP in the house and the GOP in the house is the GOP he has to work with so he needs to find some consensus because doing everything by executive order will burn him and perhaps burn some in his own party in the process. Even Bush found ways to work with the opposition that hated him (and let’s not forget the whole vacation and golf criticism was aimed at him long before Obama started getting smacked with similar). Obama looks disengaged whether he is or isn’t is unclear but he strikes me as the leader who comes up with ideas but isn’t really all that good at casting a vision of those ideas so that they can practically come to fruition.
Golf? Actually, the “usual lefties” were kind of upset that Bush used a phony pretext to get us into war in Iraq, whereupon we squandered well over a trillion of dollar, lost over 4,000 American lives, and ceded power in the region to Iran, long considered by most conservatives to be the evil empire.
I agree that Obama is not a great leader but the real problem is there are no leaders in Washington DC. Boehner is the worst Speaker of the House in my memory and I’m 68. He is terrified of his own party. McConnell as Senate Minority Leader has shown no leadership.
“At the same time, though, the President is finding himself coming under criticism by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for seemingly standing back and not doing anything to prod Congress into acting on the border crisis beyond giving speeches and polls continue to show that the public has lost confidence in the President’s leadership, something that we have seen for several months now.”
And at the same time, House Republicans are threatening to sue Obama for acting without going to Congress. So it’s a neat trick. If Obama does something, he gets sued and possibly impeached. If he just tries to persuade Congress to do something, Republicans claim he should be doing more.
And this quote from Noonan is downright proof she is living in a different world than the rest of us:
“But if Mr. Obama read more of Lincoln, he might notice Lincoln’s modesty, his plain ways, his willingness every day to work and negotiate with all who opposed him, from radical abolitionists who thought him too slow to supporters of a negotiated peace who thought him too martial.”
Republicans are back to complaining that the party who has been willing to accept half a loaf is not negotiating with the party which insists that only getting ninety-nine percent of the loaf is unacceptable.
Strikes me as largely a result of The Big Lie. The GOP has pushed this from day one. It might be true, but how would we know? What I think is at least possible is that he may have kind of thrown in the towel on trying to work with Congress.
I agree that both GOP leaders are lacking but Reid is no better.
Neither party really seems to have the ability to lead and especially at this point to really work together. I would love to see both parties oust the current leadership, because there are some in both parties who seem willing to work together on issues but the guys in charge are too busy pandering to or running from their own party to actually do their job.
But once again-this is the congress and the leadership Obama has to work with if he wants to get meaningful things done. He has to work with the House and to some degree the GOP in the senate. He and congress both need to develop the art of finding middle ground-something Washington as a whole seems to have forgotten.
Except of course for that whole Civil War thing.
Anyone who takes anything Peggy Noonan writes seriously should have their head examined.
The Dow is up, the deficits are coming down, inflation is stable. Unemployment is slowly getting better. The ACA seems largely successful.
Our main client state is kicking Hamas’ booty; we are concerned that they are doing too good a job of this.
But he is eating barbecue in Texas. This is surely an unprecedented deriliction of the office. We should remember that he likes mustard on hot dogs and reads speeches off a teleprompter!
And worst of all, he does not seem to care what Peggy Noonan thinks when making policy!
Seriously, I believe that Obama has done some thing right and some things wrong. I would not dismiss the idea that his wrongs outnumber his correct calls. But let’s put look at this seriously and put things on both sides of the scale.
And yet at one point he chose to work as a community organizer. And was apparently fairly good at it. The man’s just full of contradictions, isn’t he?
Doug’s response in this article is sadly typical of how the media works:
“Republicans are claiming Obama is a terrible leader. There is no basis for this on the merits of the argument. Still, the question has been raised. Why is Obama such a terrible leader?”
I’m confused. This is Monday. On Mondays, Obama is the cruelest dictator on the planet, ruthlessly exercising his will on the helpless country, shredding the Constitution in his desire to control every aspect of American life. That’s why Boehner has been force into the unprecedented action of suing him.
It’s on TUESDAY that Obama is an effete intellectual snob who simply can’t be bothered with governing and is unwilling to engage the Republicans, who are desperate to do nothing more than reach an equitable compromise that will save the country.
Please try to get this straight.
If only we had a strong leader like Putin.
Obama strikes me as the kind of guy who doesn’t like group work (eg he is the guy who wants to go off in the corner and get the project done on his own and his way) and working with congress from the executive requires group work.
Lmao, what a load of crap.
Obama’s whole MO as president has been trying to work with the other side to achieve something that helps Americans lives even if he doesn’t get the ideal bill he wants(ACA and the stimulus are great examples of this). His problem has been that the the other side has no intention of govern, that is the sole problem. Not Obama being aloof(FDR was cold as well……) or any other stupid media nonsense to distract from the real problem, which is the GOP.
@Facebones: “Doug’s response in this article is sadly typical of how the media works:
“Republicans are claiming Obama is a terrible leader. There is no basis for this on the merits of the argument. Still, the question has been raised. Why is Obama such a terrible leader?” ”
But he gets bonus points for quoting Peggy Noonan, and for invoking the ‘Green Lantern’ and ‘Bully Pulpit’ theories!
Lincoln never said “so sue me” because he didn’t have to deal with a congress crazy enough to consider it…
Thats becuase he can do nothing. The narrative was set during the Conservative Obstruction kick-off meeting on the same day as Obama’s inauguration. It is easy for people to turn sour on the guy who says “the buck stops with me”. It is a no brainer that conservatives understood this much too well. Shut down the government?!? They’ll take that hit as long as the president looks like an ineffective leader in the process. What conservatives has done since Obama came into office is so blatant that there is no boubt in my mind that history will show that President Obama endured an unprecedented amount of obstructionism.
And oh BTW Doug – don’t complain about the perceived notion that Obama doesn’t care anymore or somehow bought this inability to be an effective leader on himself without first acknowledging that he has policy(ies) on the table that Congress fell to even bring to a vote – i.e. the funding needed for the immigrants crossing the border. He is dealing with a congress that will criticize him for not acting, then turn around and choose not to pass the policies to get the ball rolling. So please excuse him if he does come off like he has no interest in working with the republicans again. I’ll tell you this – president Obama has more patience and grace then I. I would not have handled it so well…
So after Doug concludes that Obama probably has done nothing wrong , Doug says the President is to blame? Isn’t that a logic fail? What is he to blame for if he hasn’t done anything wrong?
The real problem here is a failure of messaging. Obama and the Democrats simply have not figured out how to deal with a media, half of which engages in a misguided false equivalence, balanced approach and half of which is a propoganda arm of the Republican Party that belches out anti-Obama propoganda 24/7/365.
The result is that no one champions Obama’s successes and everyone criticises his failures.This makes his Administration look worse and more effective than it actually is. For example, could you figure out from the media that the ACA is actually a big success? No, because its success in lowering the number of uninsured isn’t covered because it’s not sexy. But let somebody somewhere complain that their premiums have gone up and you get wall-to-wall coverage on Fox News, even if its later found untrue.
It’s time for the Democrats to do better messaging. Dunno how they and Obama can do that, though. I’m hoping they’re working on it.
Forget it – I’m on a roll so I’ll just keep it going…
If Noonan wants to compare this to Lincoln’s time then lets do that. The republicans these days will be more comparable to John Wilkes Booth. Booth thought that he would be looked at favorably throughout history after Killing Lincoln. After all, at the time Lincoln was very unpopular. Now that guy will forever be on the wrong side of history.. The guy was delusional!
Much like these conservatives are today. We have factual data that will forever be in the books serving as proof that Obama has served over the most do nothing Congresses than any other time before. We have unchallenged allegations that republicans held a meeting during Obama’s inauguration day to figure out ways not to work with him. We have, on record, the Senate republican minority leader saying “Our job is to make Obama a one term President”. Historically, the popularity of Obamacare will be on par with social security and medicare while we’ll have documented proof that the republicans voted to repeal it more than 50 times during Obama’s Presidency. These conservatives are delusional! And there is no doubt in my mind that over time, their delusion will cement Obama’s legacy as one of the best Presidents given what was accomplished during such obstruction from congress (i.e. Obamacare, record stock market numbers, rebounded from losing hundreds of thousnads of jobs per month to gaining million of jobs over his 8 years, Killing Osama Bin Laden, passed bills to protect consumers against bad pratices with bank credit cards, etc.). Everything positive that HAS happened under this administration will be looked at within the context of a congress that obstructed. The fact that all of this took place under the first African-American President will make republicans look that much worse over time. 50 years from now – mark my words…
The messaging is out there. The problem is progressively driven news and talk radio isn’t as popular as conservatively driven news and talk radio. Liberals, in general, don’t care enough about politics as our friends on the right do. It is why conservatives tend to do overwhelmingly better during midterm elections than progressives. It isn’t that more conservatives vote in off-year elections. It is because more liberals don’t care and would rather stay home. The national media gets this too. So when the content is driven by ratings, and ratings mostly come from those on the right, the content have to be skewed to keep those on the right engaged. It doesn’t matter what the message is from the left (and I have seen many argue excellent points), the media simply will not pick it up on a wider scale. And if the media is going to ignore it in favor of more popular questions and arguements being broadcasted from the right, then the progressive messaging machine start out at a major disadvantage.
@al-Ameda: so, you disagree, in hindsight, with every intel agency in the world? gee, big shock.
Yet, youre willing to ignore the largest debt in history, a huge fall off in the percentage of working americans, the fact that the only jobs being created are part time, the border crisis of his own making, the IRS political tarheting, the Holddr Purjury, Rosengate,Fast and Furious, the siebelius plzy for pay scandal, and at least a dozen more ietms which would give you apoplexy were they to have occurred on the watch of anyone not a ‘progressive’.
Youll forgive me if Im unimpressed.
Successful presidents have to master the ability to persuade (see Clinton, LBJ) . The Constitution separated the Executive and Legislative branches of government and the president has no power over Congress. Hence he has to negotiate and bargain.
Congress does not even have to physically respond to any presidential recommendation as they can pretend that it does not exist. Therefore a president has to rely on developing good relations with Congress, good tactics, good powers of persuasion and bargaining in order to win support.
Lets face it, Obama is a great orator, but poor leader.
Yes, Obama’s approval rating is 39%, but anal warts are more popular than Congress (8% approval).
Survey’s show that the general public is more in line with Obama’s policies than the wingnuts, so why isn’t he pounding his vision and his positions more in a clear attempt to juxtapose the differences?
Too many fundraisers, not enough substance.
And to the point above that “FDR was cold…..”, I guess you never heard a live fireside chat as a kid now did you. (I have). He may have been cold in person (and also confined to a wheelchair) but we didn’t know any better.
FDR is a good example. He was extraordinarily popular, even if some of his policies weren’t. (Look at contemporary Gallup polls to see the public at the time, somewhat lukewarm to the New Deal), but he had the courage of his convictions (like Reagan) to pound his viewpoint home, with few contradictions. He was able to get the public on his side and ride that to legislative victories.
Obama was feckless during the border crises since a huge part of the Dem party now is focused on amnesty and open borders. He is handcuffed by this reality.
He has been silent about Gaza – uh, who sponsored his recent fundraisers in LA? – hint, not Palestinian elites.
Wealth inequality, rich/poor gap, huge corporate mergers, middle class jobs lost to bad trade pacts etc. – all happened under his watch.
Obama has been a disappointment, the wingnuts are as batschitt crazy as ever. A clever, more engaged leader could be destroying their positions and undermining their credibility, but thats not in Obama’s DNA.
Every “scandal” you mentioned – please provide the supporting evidence that This President was either involved or failed at the task at hand. You most likely can’t. And that “huge fall off in percentage of working americans” are likely the public sector jobs that got axed from the state level after republicans overwhelmingly won in 2010 – which added to the slow recovery from the great recession two years prior. Conservatives never met an austerity measure they didn’t like…
“(Look at contemporary Gallup polls to see the public at the time, somewhat lukewarm to the New Deal)”
Gallup polls were notoriously unreliable then, as the number of people who had phones to take the survey was badly skewed (leading most famously to their prediction that Dewey would defeat Truman).
From Peggy Noonan:
It’s a rare day when I say this, but Peggy Noonan is right here on multiple counts: Obama doesn’t sweat the poll numbers, because he’s more concerned about the long term than the day to day reactionary response. (He’s said as much many times.) He thinks he’s right about the essentials of policy and history will look back on him with favor for the reasons LaMont lays out above. I’d add that this is likely the right play for Obama considering the circumstances with the opposition he is beset with.
Sadly, Noonan goes on to write a bunch of hogwash, but let’s give credit where credit is due. Like a broken clock, she can be right on occasion.
BTW, I think Republicans will look back on this era twenty years from now and cry hot, mournful tears. If they’d paid attention to his Audacity of Hope book, his campaign rhetoric and his history of collaboration, then held a meeting on the day of his inauguration where they decided the Republicans should seize the opportunity given them, they could have partnered with Obama to advance a comprehensive agenda of center-right pragmatism the likes of which the country has never seen.
“And that “huge fall off in percentage of working americans” are likely the public sector jobs that got axed from the state level after republicans overwhelmingly won in 2010”
No, a larger component is early baby boomers hitting retirement age. People born in 1946 (the first year with 4 million births) turned 62 in 2008 and could start collecting Social Security at the early retirement rate, which was quite tempting during the largest recession since the Great Depression.
Let me repost from my comment on Balloon Juice:
Obama should just have been simply more ruthless in 2009 when he had a (brief) 60 vote majority and had the Republicans on the run. For example he should have rammed through the health care bill the minute he got to 60 votes. Many Republicans to this day think he did just because that is what they would have done. Instead he waffled for months and waited around for Snowe to make up her mind in a vain attempt to get a Republican vote. Obama hurt himself a lot trying to appear reasonable and “bipartisan.” It also made him look more “ineffective” to the public because he wasn’t passing stuff.
OTOH, he has also been vilified for “ramming through” stuff so I guess he can’t win no matter what.
Ah yes… Didn’t consider that…
I agree totally. Obama was very naive at the time and conservatives took full advantage. And of course, the media played a huge part in how the politcis looked during that time. Media loves controversy – not the tuth. If dems say the sky is blue and repubs challenge that the sky is red, the lead-off question from the media is “why can’t they agree on the color of the sky?” I can’t take credit for that analogy – heard it somewhere else but can’t remember where.
Hm. I actually felt something similar in coverage of George W. Bush back in 2007-2008. Bush just seemed really, really eager to get out of Washington and out of the presidency. I wonder … is the modern presidency just really frustrating for whoever’s in the big chair at 1600 Penn?
Sorry, but the waffling and naive Obama narrative doesn’t align with the facts on the ground. It assumes Obama would have strong-armed the opposition if he’d only seen the politics for what they were. But, it’s just not who Obama is and anyone who thinks otherwise is projecting onto Obama characteristics he’s never pretended to have. Obama is a pragmatist who wants to make progress based on consensus building and incremental improvement. It is a style of leadership we see way too little of, but one I welcome. (Though, I may be very alone in this!) This kind of leadership recognizes that sustained, lasting progress requires critical mass.
The same-sex marriage issue is an excellent example. Obama bided his time, made subtle advances like rescinding DADT, created space for the public to debate and then chose an apt time to declare his support as public support gained momentum. No one was happy at the time with how Obama “led” on the issue. Now, the landscape has completely changed, there’s daily news of the courts striking down state bans and legalization of same-sex marriage looks like an inevitability. I AM NOT giving Obama credit for that, but it takes a special leader to see that had he decided the issue by fiat, the pushback would have delayed progress more in the long run. The People have to demand change sometimes for change to take hold.
Both LBJ and FDR had huge majorities in the House and the Senate. The whole “LBJ won on persuasion alone” meme has been debunked. When he had the big majorities he passed a lot. When his majorities shrunk in 1966 he magically became less persuasive.
Thanks for that. It’s is an excellent example of the meaninglessness of Beltway’s “leadership” narrative.
The White House had publicly signaled they were willing to support legislation on the refugee children close to what GOP leadership said they wanted, causing political heartburn for Dem congressmembers. As has happened many times in the past, Sen. Cruz then stepped in and demagogued the goalposts way to the Right, getting the House leadership’s preferred legislation pulled, and killing any hope of anything constructive passing. All that was then left to do was have Heritage flunkies pass out the talking points about how it was actually the President’s fault.
Cruz-ifying the border debate: How Ted Cruz is yet again giving Boehner headaches
Moosebreath, I was alive when FDR was president and you weren’t and you are wrong about Gallup. His leading competitor, the Literary Digest at the time, was the biggest polling company in the US and they used the phone book etc. and got the FDR – Landon vote wrong in 1936. (Quick who was Landon’s running mate?) Gallup got it rignt and became the pre-eminent pollster.
Gallup in 1948, stopped polling two weeks before the election with 14% of the public undecided.
Don’t want to go into a history lesson with ignorant boomers but the term “undecideds go to the incumbent” stems from this lesson from 1948. The phone book thing is a myth regarding Gallup in 1948.
FDR was a LEADER and won 4 elections, because even though some had great reservations about his policies, we trusted his judgement and his ebullient assertions of better times to come and his unyielding hatred of the money brokers, bankers and other 1%ers.
The true lesson is how incredibly conservative and banal the current “liberals” are compared to liberals of the past.
I agree with you in part, but my point is that Obama should have strong armed the opposition when he had the chance. I think he really believed that he had to power to transcend partisanship by offering “Reasonable Bipartisan Compromises” that would convince persons of good will on the Republican side to join with him in accomplishing good for the country. He was wrong. Turns out that such “persons of goodwill ” who were willing to reach hands across the aisle didn’t exist, and that there really was a red America with a fundamentally different vision from blue America.
@stonetools: On top of that, Obama and Clinton aren’t even in the same ball-park when it comes to legislative success. Obama has been a far more transformative president then Bill Clinton ever was.
He wasn’t elected to do that. That is literally the opposite of what he was elected on.
As Ornstein and Mann say, no one at the beginning of 2009 (and more apropos 2011) expected the level of Congressional obstruction that followed. There were signs of increasing polarization, but Obama’s election was like shooting meth into a cocaine addict. I can’t fault someone for being blindsided like that.
Further, his continuing negotiations for some years after the opposition became apparent was ample demonstration that the Republicans couldn’t or were unwilling to govern. There is a long view of all this, and the Republicans aren’t coming out well in it.
So you reject empirical evidence – weapons inspections, that showed there to be no weapons of mass destruction? No “smoking gun that could be a mushroom cloud.”?
Gee, big shock. Many people believed that there were WMDs, actual inspections showed there to be none.
Perhaps you missed the financial crash of 2008, the greatest crash of the economy since the Great Depression? When the financial and housing markets collapsed American households and businesses lost nearly 25% of their wealth – over $18 trillion. That caused the loss millions of jobs, and we’re just now, 6 years later, recovering the levels of wealth that we attained 6 years ago. I’m not impressed with the ongoing Republican effort to obstruct meaningful economic progress.
If the phone book component to wrong polling is a myth, no one seems to have told the people who have studied it, including:
this study from Penn — “An even more serious flaw in the method of quota sampling is the fact that ultimately the choice of who is in the sample is left to the human element. Recall that other than meeting the quotas the interviewers were free to choose whom they interviewed. Looking back over the history of quota sampling, one can see a clear tendency to overestimate the Republican vote. In 1936, using quota sampling, Gallup predicted the Republican candidate would get 44% of the vote, but the actual number was 38%. In 1940 the prediction was 48% and the actual vote was 45%; in 1944 the prediction was 48% and the actual vote was 46%. But in spite of the errors, Gallup was able to predict the winner correctly in 1936, 1940 and 1944. This was merely due to luck — the spread between the candidates was large enough to cover the error. In 1948 Gallup, and all the other pollsters, simply ran out of luck. It was time to ditch quota sampling.”
Another source (http://zetterberg.org/Lectures/l041115.htm — not linking as it will cause the comment to end in purgatory) — “A supposition of the committee was that in the last two weeks of the campaign when the interviewing after Crossley, Gallup, and Roper had completed their interviews, there had been a net shift to Truman of two to three percentage points. The pollsters had missed the necessity of measuring preferences just before the election. The Committee, however, would not flatly say that Crossley and Gallup had been right two weeks before the election. (Roper was too far off; he could not reasonably have been right a fortnight before.) The committee’s conclusion on the last weeks’ shift was “tentative.”
The committee voiced the suspicion that the pollsters’ use of quota sampling rather than probability sampling had allowed interviewers to select somewhat more educated and well-off people within their assigned quotas. This biased their samples against Truman, who appealed more to the lower classes than Dewey.”
@Moosebreath: Neither of those quotes demonstrate the telephone polling story.
Yeah, well in the long run we are all dead. In the mean time Republicans are still obstructing, still victimizing poor people in red states by blocking Medicaid, and are still getting elected.
@the Q: “FDR is a good example. He was extraordinarily popular, even if some of his policies weren’t. (Look at contemporary Gallup polls to see the public at the time, somewhat lukewarm to the New Deal), but he had the courage of his convictions (like Reagan) to pound his viewpoint home, with few contradictions. He was able to get the public on his side and ride that to legislative victories.”
FDR had massive Democratic majorities in congress. Without that, all the “courage of his convictions” would have meant nothing.
@the Q: “He has been silent about Gaza – uh, who sponsored his recent fundraisers in LA? – hint, not Palestinian elites.”
And please allow me to give you a little hint on civilized discourse: Liberal Jews in California are no more identical to the Israeli government than African Christian preachers who advocate death for homosexual acts are identical to the congregation of the local Methodist church.
I guess we all look alike to some people — maybe it’s because we’re always rubbing our hands together greedily and talking fast with our hooked noses — but enlightened souls do try to learn to distinguish.
“the most do nothing congress’
So, checks and balances imposed by congress is a bad thing? One presumes this is only when a ‘progressive’ is in the WH,
and by the way… to whoever it was that pointed at the stock market as ‘proof’ of Obamas golden boy status…. check this act
@al-Ameda: so, did Obama attack Libya without congressional approval? Have more died under Obama than Bush?
and did you miss that the fiancial problems of 08 were driven by a Democrat congress?
wow… reality. what a concept.
This. . .
. . . is true. It was always true, it was obvious, and I’ve been saying so for more than five years. Almost six years of Republicans accusing Obama of being all about politics, never true. So now we can measure the analytical gap between Peggy Noonan and me: about six years.
He doesn’t care about putting on a show. He really is no drama Obama. He’s also no dramatics Obama, no posturing Obama, no strutting around on an aircraft carrier wearing a codpiece and a jump suit Obama. Republicans have never been even a tiny bit right about Obama as a character. Of course Democrats for their part often over-estimated him. Obama does what Obama thinks is right, that’s who he is and was and always will be.
Does that make him a great president? No. I’ve graded him pretty consistently at a ‘B.’ I think it’s a big mistake not to educate more, to play more to the people, to be a more obvious leader. I think his stand-offish, ivory tower, too-cool-for-school thing is not always helpful.
But it’s nice to finally see at least one of the idiot GOP pundit brigade get something right.
Yes it is true, “persons of goodwill” didn’t materialize, so bipartisanship didn’t happen.
Still, if bipartisanship was a fool’s errand and it really is true that there is “a red America with a fundamentally different vision from blue America” then how would strong-arm tactics from Obama have led to the different outcome you imagine? Obama rams through the health care policy the Democrats really want (including such Democrats as Joe Lieberman, Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson) and then the Republicans don’t use the subsequent years trying to repeal it? The ACA is just that much better with a public option that red state governors decide to allow Medicaid expansion in their states? The polls come back with higher approval ratings for Obama, so the Republicans decide their obstructionism is a loser and they choose to cooperate?
Obama never promised people a pony, but some people want their pony anyway.
@michael reynolds: he has always and without fail, gone in exactly the wrong direction. That is, if we assume the right direction is a stronger America. Every single time.
Then he’s back as disasters ensued.
You do not get that kind of consistency without two things going for you…. Talent and intent. The disasters he has wrought were always in the plan.
Leadership qualities, one may well have.
Obama has them, else he’d not have gone so far as he has.
The driver for what Doug writes about is the direction he is leading…. over the damned cliff.
Reality recognition certainly is a problem for conservatives.
(1) Did Obama not obtain Congressional approval to attack Libya — Yes he did not (I’m not sure I ever disputed that obvious fact.
Was the attack on Libya in any manner analogous to the attack on Iraq? — No
Were the 4 deaths in Benghazi analogous to the 4,000 deaths in Iraq? — No.
(2) Have more died under Obama than Bush — Yes, in Libya 4 Americans died under Obama, none under Bush, As far as Iraq is concerned, you probably know that Bush used a false pretext to wage war there and that over 4,000 Americans died as a result..
(3) 2008 financial problems cause by a ‘Democrat’ congress? — No., they were not. Also, the problems were not caused by a Democratic congress either.
@al-Ameda: The attack was outside the constitution.
Iraq was NOT repeat NOt fought under false pretext. We went with the information at hand.
And the rest of your comments are equally credible, here.
Sorry, what it is.
On fiscal and social safety net issues yes. No politician today could get away with talking like FDR.
True, America was much stronger when it’s economy was on the brink of collapse under his predecessor. Welcome to Wingnut Logic 101.
We went with the
informationlies at hand.
The cognitive dissonance it took for you to post that qando link in an argument where you were asserting that the economic hardships of the past six years are primarily the fault of the Obama administration is truly mind boggling. Congratulations sir, you have outdone yourself.
Ha! You had me going for a second.
But seriously, read something like this…
…and pay attention to what he has to say about Egypt. And then consider what one man, albeit the POTUS, can do about ongoing geopoltical developments. This whole debate is bananas.
the “information at hand” was that inspections showed there to be no WMDs, where upon Bush ignored that information and went to war. Sorry but that’s the way it was.
Hard to take criticism of Leadership from people that have never once been in the position. Who has Noonan led? Or, for that matter, the majority of politicians and news personalities that throw the word around so recklessly. They may have managed something….a completely different zip code than leading. Polls are management tools. These people haven’t a clue.
Although I tend to agree, this makes me laugh. With friends like the Joes (Manchin, Lieberman) who needed enemies? There were more than enough posturing Democrats or Democrats in red states running scared to thwart any agenda. A large part of Obama’s problem was his own caucus not having the stones to believe in the party’s agenda. And also from some in his caucus not respecting him enough because he had the audacity to step ahead of Hillary and it wasn’t his supposed turn, or so I’ve been told by my ex who has heard a bunch of stuff from some subversive Ds. But it’s all hearsay so I take it with a grain of salt, but it is logical considering the problems with the caucus. He never had a true supermajority.
That said, I’m really sick of people expecting Obama to lead with more leading leadership and make everything happen because ‘Murica! F**k yeah! Please. I think Obama recognizes the limits of American power and influence, and plays along as best he can, but he’s not a very good liar.
You are wrong on this as always. You know nothing about anything and never have.
While I agree with you about the middle ground, I’m just not sure its possible anymore- Obama came in trying to be compromising, and within days of his inauguration, the House and Senate Republican leadership had one goal, not to work with the President elected in a landslide to make a America a better place but rather to make him a one term President.
Hell, even if the House GOP leadership wanted to work with the President on issues of shared interests, they can’t– if they attempt to do so they’ll be primaried.
Oh, and I love Lincoln as a historical figure but let’s be real here- in Lincoln’s time he might have jailed Noonan and Lewis for their articles (nice choice two Republican hacks btw, really shows a consensus).
LBJ had a massive majority and Clinton “negotiated” by agreeing to Republican bills and then taking credit for them– also he was impeached so its not like he was exactly working tightly with the GOP– I’m guessing Obama can get Clinton’s success as well– if he supports gutting entitlements and slashing financial oversight in exchange for the GOP funding midnight basketball or some other piece meal bs.
“Neither of those quotes demonstrate the telephone polling story.”
They both demonstrate the problem was that the pollsters took a biased sample.
@Eric Florack: “…so, you disagree, in hindsight, with every intel agency in the world? gee, big shock.”
First, not ‘every intelligence agency in the world’ believed anything.
Second, you’re trusting in what the spymasters tell us now?
obama is not , never will be and does not have the capability to be a leader, a thinker or a doer. he is a stoner who would rather watch tv, play cards and have fun. why any rational person ever thought he was much more is beyond me.
Which brings me to …
Why anyone thought that George W Bush was anything more than a recovering cocaine addict , given to making ill-considered decisions to invade countries, incapable of governing so he turned most decision-making over to Dick Cheney – why any rational voter though Bush anything more than a rehabbed marionette is beyond me.
Part of being a great (as opposed to competent) leader is being able to create and keep majorities in the senate and house.
Obama is a competent leader. So was LBJ, who couldn’t maintain the large majority. FDR was a great leader.
WR, yes you of course are right, there is no Jewish lobby and no AiPAC and 100 Senators in a notoriously partisan environment would never unanimously agree on anything right?
My brother in law was in the Haganah you ahole so I am fully aware of the history of Israel and their right to exist among the neighboring idiots.My nieces and nephew are half Jewish.
So please spare me the flatulent “I guess we all look alike to some people — maybe it’s because we’re always rubbing our hands together greedily and talking fast with our hooked noses”….I* say you have a HUGE chip on your shoulder.
@Deserttrek: Are you sure you haven’t mixed up Obama and me?