His victory seemed to assure: “A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again.”
Well, they may still believe, but...
", close allies of the president attribute the problem to the campaign-like nucleus around Obama in which all things are possible. “There is this sense after you have won such an amazing victory, when you have proved conventional wisdom wrong again and again, that you can simply do the same thing in government,” says one. “Of course, they are different skills. To be successful, presidents need to separate the stream of advice they get on policy from the stream of advice they get on politics. That still isn’t happening.”
What is actually going on in terms of the President is so obscured and not obvious, as we judge from pretenses and from speeches, that we see a confident, competent leader proposing bold initiatives - and besides that he is such a good guy that we're willing to forgive him for not doing such a good job...
But is that such a good idea? Are we going to allow for someone to do more on the job training and not mind the inferior results?
We have a dilemma:
Keep the likable, but not so capable, Chief Executive Officer because we like him and/or we are committed to his ideology.
Hire a new guy who knows how to get results and who will turn this country around.
To me the choice seems obvious, but then again I've looked a bit deeper and thought a lot about this. And, if I were a Democrat, instead of an independent, I would elect the Republican to the top job - and then vote in Dems into the congress. (See Why Democrats Should Vote For Romney.)
Lack of governing experience causes lots of execution problems and a lack of good results.
Idealism is "nice" but it caused alot of problems that had unintended bad effects on people
The nation has been harmed by this inability to govern well.
The White House has been dysfunctional
Decisions have been put off and/or not made. A President is paid for making decisions.
Put off challenges and didn't address them. Reducing deficits, fixing social security and medicare.
Misprioritization of the health care bill was harmful when the economy was the priority.
Haste and waste in Stimulus bill. Didn't allocate moneys to most effective area. Green jobs not effective.
Stood aside on health care bill - Let Pelosi and congress do it for six months, a mess
THE BIG MISTAKE
The biggest mistake is to hire a "big talker" (aka inspirational speaker) who had no experience and no knowledge of how to govern or manage. After all, the job is that of The Chief Executive Officer Of The United States Of America, the most powerful nation in the world - and no place for an amateur, even a brilliant on, as we need to have a person with the ability to get the results we are hiring him for.
Why else are we hiring a President but to do the job? Don't we need one who is qualified? Or is that a bizarre idea?
Yes, great "raw ability", general smarts, but not the experience and proven capability to be smart where it matters - in getting the results that we need. In doing more than talking and promising for the future. Decisions have to be made and leadership has to be shown.
We need a man who can make clear decisions and lead forward, where people don't have to roll their eyes in frustration.
Even Obama found that inspiration and rhetoric weren't enough and that key people often rolled their eyes in frustration when he was full of rhetoric instead of decisions and leadership.
The great promise of Grant Park, of the grand visions and plans, have met the reality of the real world. And they have metafizzled.
A FAILURE TO PRIORITIZE
One of the greatest leadership skills is choosing what is most impactful and the order in which it should be done. Idealism will not be sufficient. Practicalism is what is needed to have real results in the real world. Anyone can have great ideas and dreams,but give me one man who can implement them!
Obama, though we can't read his intentions or needs, though we can appreciate his idealism, decided to focus on health care reform his first year while we were in the throes of the convergence of a collapsed financial system and a sinking economy.
The President held tight to his ideal of comprehensive health care reform.
He even tried to make the next priority energy, even though he had been warned by Goolsbee that there would be very few jobs from green energy initiatives. Obama seemed to cling to the idealism of it, as if it was his very soul. He didn't see that green jobs was simply building for a far-off future that would not help in the near term - and which we could ill afford, as we had higher and more urgent priorities. No bearing of fruit for years.
He did little about joblessness and everybody knew it. January 2010
He was anxious, right after health reform, to promote green jobs that he was warned against for it was creating a "far-off future" capability Gooksbee has tole Obama that hiring from a clean energy initiate would be modest and would not bear fruit for years. .
An idealist will often "overdo" something in order to be darned sure it is handled, as if a lack of perfection would cause some great harm. They fail to realize the tradeoffs that are inevitably there, as the world becomes one of theoretical absolutes that aren't quite feasible in the real world. Obama decided to overregulate - and that priority choked off many a drilling permit and made business more difficult and more costly, just at the time we needed to encourage business and to create jobs!
Because the jobs lagged, the Federal Reserve had to play a bigger role. It did what was called "quantitative easing", which is essentially printing more money so that more of it is available and at a very low rate. A greater money supply eventually is inflationary (though not during a recession) and it makes foreign good more expensive and costly for Americans as the dollar is devalued. It does, however, at a great cost, make our goods cheaper, so that exports will rise. We pay more total dollars for imports so the balance of trade payments effect may not be highly positive.
Due to indecision and to inserting health care as a priority, the White House put out no proposals of substance to create more hiring.
And green jobs, as warned, produced very little, at a huge and impractical cost.
Obama is a very smart and intellectual academic, but he didn't seem to grasp, to our detriment, what Calvin Coolidge said “business of America is business.” (If the reader has a prejudice against business or capitalism, it is essential to gain more understanding of them, as recommended in Primitive, Reactive Psychology In Politics.)
THE STIMULUS: HASTE AND WASTE
It turned out that it would have been smarter to think about where the money was to be spent in terms of getting results, rather than just trying to fill up the quota with the dollars that were required to meet the size of the required stimulus. What each dollar was to be spent on was more important than the total number of dollars.
But though speed was required there still is "no excuse for poor conceptualizing." (op. cit.)
Lauded for his Rooseveltian idealism and great visions, Obama unfortunately lacked the ability to bring them into practical reality.
He even wanted to move forward quickly on tough climate change legislation, but fortunately Summers prevailed to squash that. Summers and a few others had to manage and direct the young President so he didn't go too much astray and let his idealism run him. .
As people have observed "he is excessively idealistic and not pragmatic.”
NO REAL FOLLOW-THROUGH
Once a decision was supposedly made, there was often no follow-through.
Suskind quotes Churchill: "Never have so many talented people managed to achieve so little with so much.”
THE STIMULUS, RESCUE
Yes, it does seem appropriate to have a stimulus when things are falling so rapidly (even Romney realized the wisdom of it; and it would have been rather ignorant and righteous for a conservative to stick to dogma while the economy was falling apart). However, the poor implementation and choices neutered a good part of the stimulus, resulting in a smaller than needed, but positive, effect. Romney would have managed it well, as he did in other turnaround situations (companies, Olympics, state).
And he failed to implement policies that spurred fresh lending, while the Fed lent money at 0 cost and the banks reinvested it into Treasuries, making a profit from no real results. (Few people realize that this has cost the taxpayers 100's of billions of dollars; because interest is paid out on moneys it gave the banks for free. No, the banks aren't evil, they just are not dumb.)
With no experience governing, Obama entered office being confident he could handle it with no problem.
Well, then reality hit.
In the first months in office, it quickly became apparent to Obama and others that Obama had believed that his other skills would not be sufficient. He began to have insight into
A lack of “clear philosophical underpinnings” to shape policy, a guiding vision.
A lesson, in what any strong businessman knows: “there’s no such thing as shovel ready projects…
Although Obama could quickly begin to speak the lingo of whatever he was briefed in, he had no idea how to take his principles and turn them into policies and his ideas and turn them into specific plans and to dos.
Even the Congressional Budget Office had to disappoint the President when they said they were sorry they could not "score" a speech.
A true manager knows that in order to get results, he has to get to the specifics and then hold people accountable for action and results.
A DYSFUNCTIONAL WHITE HOUSE
Of course, someone with little executive experience, who had never managed anything bigger than a small community organization, would have a learning curve - but his was so huge that it could not be accomplished.
People growing doubts, as they began to see how he operated, undermined his authority and respect.
People had to manage him and not let his uncertainties and lack of knowledge be exposed and known.
He failed to make a distinction between rhetoric and actual governance, until he was well into his first year. What a shock!
He, bluntly, was unable to fulfill the duties of his office. "Policies drifting without direction." (op. cit.)
There was little follow through. Decisions were left undecided., He couldn't make tough decisions, which is is a huge problem since that is what a president is paid to do.
"Hope and consensus" were not enough. Daschle said he needed to have "his words be translated into action." (op. cit.)
The White House was "overcommited and disorganized," and confused and ineffectual. The policy arm didn't work, and even the campaign arm lagged.
He had been found out – and others had to step into the breach.
Obama’ first year fell apart in large part because he didn’t follow his chief of staff's advice in crucial matters.
"Emanueal is the only person keeping obama from becoming Jimmy Carter." (op. cit.)
And the young president’s authority was being systematically undermined or hedged by his seasoned advisers.
There was a leaderless White House, full of tension, chaos and infighting.
There was the dysfunction of an often leaderless White House.
And the oft-quoted statement first came about:
Obama kept on considering and redeciding the details until the last minute. Often the outcome of important policies were left to blind chance. (op. cit.) He would relitigate, even after decisions had seemed to be reached.
He relied on "shared interest" and consensus. The lack of surety and uncertainties from inexperience often paralyzed or inhibited decision making.
He learned the limits of pure intellect and spent "hour and hour in frustrating relitigations." (op. cit.)
NOT FACING THE FINANCIAL CHALLENGES
Although we might say that the inability to make difficult decisions would relate to not facing big challenges, I think they are separate, although both may require courage. It could, of course, be political fear that ruled. But there is no excuse for not doing his job!
Budgetary issues w styole…
He continually delayed the pain of "real fiscal rigor". He ducked tough choices.
Social Security, Medicare solvency and solutions, other than mention of intention, he proposed nothing concrete at all. But this job has to be done. This decision has to be made. We can't wait or continue in avoidance.
One problem that often occurs with inexperienced leaders is that they do not realize how long lead times are and so never allow for that. They fail to see the train coming down the tracks about ready to run over them or the snowball growing bigger and bigger... until, wham! it's too late.
Even his budget failed to acknowledge the realities - and it was voted down 97-0 in the Senate...
He had trouble making demands and insisting that people follow his orders and policies (what few he had made clear). As an experienced advisor noted that "can't be healthy."
As Anita Dunn said “The president is such a capable guy, he thought [misestimated!] he could master these organization issues. I don’t think he understood how important they were." (op. cit.) [I myself was surprised, even with my training, how hard it was to actually manage a business. Theory only went so far. And my idealism flopped at times - and cost me lots of money.]
Biden wanted Obama to step up and assert more control. (op. cit.)
The disclosures of his management struggles and in making difficult decisions complicated things. And he seemed not able to demand accountability of his top advisers. And he lost their confidence. (But they do support him and keep all of this relatively secret.)
No plan of action.
THE HEALTH CARE BILL
The passing of this bill, finally, helped him save face.
But he failed to proactively frame the debate and the bill and didn't lead on this. The congress spent six months in an "utterly incoherent process, where the White House seemed to be of many minds, or none at all." (op. cit.) Obama failed to intervene.
It turned out that Pelosi had been waiting for the White House to take the lead. He never did.
It turned out to actually be PelosiCare, about which we found out "you have to pass the bill to understand what is in it." (The wise Orszag called Pelosi’s house bill a “liberal fantasy of glut and expansion."
Obama got some mileage, using his frequent "make the other guy wrong" strategy, out of attacking the insurers.