Haste (and Ideological Blindness) Makes Waste

November 15, 2010

President Obama’s fiercest obstacles as chief executive are neither recalcitrant Republicans nor the increasing complexity and demands of the job; they are his ideology and his political allegiances.

Newsweek sees it differently. In its latest issue, it laments: “The presidency has grown, and grown and grown, into the most powerful, most impossible job in the world. … The issue is not Obama, it’s the office. … Can any single person fully meet the demands of the 21st-century presidency?”

Can you imagine any “mainstream” media publication interposing such a lame excuse for a Republican president’s failures in office? Of course not, but this reflexive defense of Obama is to be expected. What’s surprising is that in defending Obama, Newsweek is virtually admitting he is indeed failing — not just with the electorate but also in his actual job performance. This is a major development, an indication that Obama’s incompetence is so obvious it can no longer be ignored.

That’s progress, but for a really productive discussion, the magazine should have acknowledged that Obama is his own worst enemy — a man who persists in digging deep holes for himself with his ideological shovel.

We are seeing example after example of his costly and mostly avoidable failures, from his trial plans for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to his disgraceful handling of the Gulf oil spill to his disastrous Asian trip.

Despite the groundswell of objections to his precipitous plan to try Mohammed in a civilian tribunal in New York, Obama would not be deterred. He had to make a statement to the Muslim world that we had become a kinder and gentler nation.

But over the weekend, we learned that under pressure from lawmakers in Congress and in New York, Obama has finally relented. The costs and security considerations alone would have given pause to any but the most ideologically dogmatic president and spared him this ill-considered PR calamity.

Obama’s rashness has resulted in the further dilemma that he can’t resurrect a military prosecution at Guantanamo Bay because it would alienate his crazy leftist base. This puts him in the ironic position of having to adopt the position of the Bush administration that he can hold Mohammed and other enemy combatants indefinitely under the laws of war — a notion that is anathema to every fiber in Obama’s appeasement being.

Meanwhile, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has just released his book, in which he depicts Obama as inappropriately disconnected from the Gulf oil spill, more concerned about his political image than with the spill itself. Upon arriving in Louisiana, an angry Obama confronted Jindal on the tarmac for having sent the administration a routine letter requesting authorization for food stamps for those who’d lost their jobs as a result of the spill. Obama was livid that the letter could make him look bad and subtly threatened Jindal, “Careful, this is going to get bad for everyone.” Had Obama not been so preoccupied with politics, his obsessive environmental concerns and protecting his union allies, he would have done less posturing and accepted offers from foreign countries for assistance with the crisis.

Perhaps the worst example is Obama’s just-ended Asian trip. It would have been offensive enough for him to have spent hundreds of millions (or whatever unconscionable figure it turns out to have been) indulging himself and his entourage like hedonistic royalty if his trip had been reasonably productive. But it was an unmitigated bust, even according to mainstream media sources.

The ever-reliably pro-Obama New York Times said, “Obama’s Economic View Is Rejected on World Stage.” The Washington Post said, “Obama, weakened after midterms, reveals limited leverage in failed S. Korea deal.”

With his typical narcissistic approach, Obama counterproductively accused the other nations whose cooperation he sought — Germany, China and Brazil — of causing our primary economic problems, which have been brought on largely by Obama’s reckless policies. For all the left’s criticism of President Bush for his “go-it-alone” attitude, Obama seems to be the one driving down that lonesome road. He couldn’t persuade other nations to try his Keynesian prescriptions last time, and their economies are growing. Yet he somehow thinks he has the credibility to try to impose his will on them again?

And while Obama complains about barriers to free trade from South Korea, he refuses to honor the agreement President Bush made with that country — a pact the U.S. International Trade Commission estimates would increase our exports by some $10 billion per year and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calculates would lead to 250,000 new jobs. Obama is brazenly demanding more concessions from South Korea instead of honoring the already-negotiated deal.

If space permitted, I’d explore one final egregious example: Obama’s disgraceful granting of 111 waivers from Obamacare to employers, insurers and unions in his mad rush to force that monstrosity on Americans.