Last fall, I watched (helplessly, it felt, from overseas) as still-to-this-day-Senator John McCain’s campaign imploded as the economy tanked. Probably the most embarrassing thing to witness was his inexplicable attempt to suspend the race and even cancel a debate so he could dash back to Washington, DC, to vote on some bailout that today in retrospect is simply more money pissed away.
Then-Senator Obama cooled his own heels, took inventory of the situation, and although detractors attempted to paint him as indecisive and slack-jawed about the situation, was able to play it as a testament to his introspective and thoughtful style compared to McCain’s spastic and rash reaction. Whatever merits of either perspective, it was certainly the last nail on the McCain campaign coffin (which had begun to shut a couple weeks earlier with the financial meltdown itself).
While I never viewed Obama’s tendency to lack in his reaction as anything more than his opportunistically taking a comfortable place on the sidelines (witness his “Present” votes, for example), I admired at least his ability to make it seem like he was in control and smooth. Calm, cool, and collected.
There have been several incidents of late, however, that make me question (anew) his readiness for the job of chief decision-maker. He’s losing it. He’s now the one acting rash. The one lurching, the one lashing out. And we’re now seeing his lack of experience cost him and us.
Three cases in point:
We learned recently that the president is not even aware of what is in the healthcare legislature that he’s so fervently pushing on Capitol Hill. Naturally he’s trying to ram this through much as he did with cap-and-trade, the $787B pork bill, and his budget for the remainder of the FY—before anybody has a chance to know what’s in it. That’s politics. In fact, he recently delayed a Congressionally-mandated update on the budget ostensibly so that the shock wouldn’t put the kybosh on the healthcare vote (back when there was a snowball’s chance of that in the first place, at least). The result? He’s looking rash and desperate.
Another perfect example is his reaction to the Gates situation in Cambridge. Apparently without realizing that he was on TV at the time in front of the entire White House press corps during prime-time, he blurted out what can only be classified as a characiture of an angry black man’s reaction to what he considered the cops’ hassling of a race-agitator. The result? Bush-league and amateurish. Certainly below that of a president. An enitre week of distraction from the point of his press conference in the first place. This is clearly not the way someone in control does his thing. And what’s more, he’s found it impossible to apologize. Someone with a better sense of himself would have by now, and we’d have all moved on. Not bringing humble closure to this episode belies a lack of self-confidence. It’s uncomfortable to watch.
Finally, there’s Honduras. It’s remarkable, knowing what we now know about the situation with this (erstwhile?!) ally of ours that this administration continues to side with the criminal Zelaya. Just today, the State Department revoked visas for representatives of the legitimate interim government of Honduras. The administration has cut ties with the country and ceased military activities, central to our Central- and South American missions, based there. The Obama policy toward Honduras as they attempt to cleanse themselves of this unlawful former president and his grab for power is not only wrong, I have not seen even once any explanation whatsoever of their policy. All you can say is that they have a policy of supporting this Chavez wannabe, but they don’t even defend or explain it. Based on the facts that are now out there, there is no question whatsoever that this policy is wrong. But, naturally, the administration, caught making a rash and hasty decision about whose side to be on in the early days of the crisis is in no condition to admit error and backtrack, shift his support to Micheletti, the Legislature, the Supreme Court, (the list goes on and on) in this expression of sovereignty. The result? Not only was (is) Obama wrong, he does not possess the capacity to correct himself even though he clearly can tell he’s wrong (by not defending this mistake).
The bottom line here is that Obama’s lack of leadership experience is starting to show. I earlier praised him for his handling of the pirate hostage situation and have given him credit for continuing so many necessary Bush-era anti-terror policies. While I judged at the time that he had made these decisions deliberately and thoughtfully, I’m now beginning to consider the possibility of either dumb luck or simply his inaction (from being frozen in the headlights) lasting long enough for the solutions to come without his screwing them up.
It reminds me of what some of us in the military call the “2dLT Syndrome”. Second Lieutenants who come right out of college who have no more leadership experience than the workshops and laboratory atmosphere of OCS or an academy or ROTC, when thrown suddenly into a situation where they actually have authority and power for the first time have two reactions. Their first is to freeze and paralyze their actions for fear they screw something up. Their second is to let that power go to their heads and start bossing people around without any knowledge of what the situation is. So drunk on being able to make people jump, their entire world becomes a trampoline factory. When found to be in error, they have not the maturity nor experience to understand how to gracefully recant, retreat, and re-attack. They just further drill themselves into a proverbial hole of their own lust for power.
This, I think, is what we’re seeing these days as Obama starts to fall apart.
-Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from TML)