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Is the title the only thing Barack Obama likes about his job?

With the president now in full campaign mode, he appears a little more energetic than he has in his past few months in office. Perhaps, it’s that he prefers campaign mode to governing, more comfortable attending fundraisers with adoring fans than laboring at compromises with principled, political adversaries. But, that craft of compromising happens to be part of his job description, particularly since Republicans won a majority in the House of Representatives last fall.

Indeed, except for the speech-giving part of that job, Obama doesn’t seem much to care for his job, but he sure likes the title. At the fundraisers in which he delights, he can more readily speak in broad generalities, offering his amorphous vision of change (while often attacking his ideological adversaries, misrepresenting the nature of their criticism and distorting their policies) and exult in the adoration of his wealthy supporters.

The bromides he offers in his speeches call to mind Peter Sellers’s last (iconic) role, Chauncey Gardiner, in 1979 movie Being There. “As you may remember,” Michael Barone writes,

Gardiner is a clueless gardener who is mistaken for a Washington eminence and becomes a presidential adviser. Asked if you can stimulate growth through temporary incentives, Gardiner says, “As long as the roots are not severed, all is well and all will be well in the garden.” “First comes the spring and summer,” he explains, “but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.” The president is awed as Gardiner sums up, “There will be growth in the spring.”

As that fictional president was awed by Gardiner’s bromides, so are Obama’s supporters awed by his. But, unlike Gardiner who did not seek to offer his empty rhetoric to powerful people, Obama does seek audiences for his well-delivered, but vague vision of change.

The president doe delight in the opportunities his job affords to give speeches, but otherwise seems put upon when forced to take on the real responsibilities of his job, like put forward a plan to reform Medicare when its trustees warn of the popular program’s coming insolvency or provide an alternative budget, given that not a single Senator voted for his (even though the Senate contains 51 members of his political party and two independents who caucus with said party).

When House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) asked Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf if he had “estimated the budget impact of” the “new budget framework” the president provided in his April 13 budget speech, the Democratic appointee (Elmendorf) provided a succinct policy analysis of Obama’s manner of governing, “No, Mr. Chairman. We don’t estimate speeches.

On the budget, the president offers a speech. but not a policy proposal. It seems the story of his political life, give a speech with high-minded rhetoric and noble-sounding generalities about the goals of public policy, yet without accompanying legislation (designed) to achieve those noble goals.

He has left it to Congress to write the budget, while his campaign demonizes Republicans who have made the “tough choices” he touts rhetorically, but never makes himself. Recall that he left it to his Democratic allies in Congress to write the signature initiatives of the first part of his term, the “stimulus,” the health care overhaul and even the Wall Street reform legislation.

In short, it seems, that Obama likes to give speeches, but he pretty much votes present on the other obligations of his office.

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15 Comments

  1. He’s up to, what, 75 days of his presidency out playing golf? Since the libs laid the standard that the President is only doing his job if he’s at the WH, it’d be interesting if the media documented how much time Chairman Obama has spent dreaming of his MTV Cribs episode.

    Here we go:

    Obama’s 75 times golfing since Inauguration Day includes 17 outings just this year. He made it thirteen weekends in a row Saturday with a trip out to the Andrews Air Force Base course.

    http://www.whitehousedossier.com/2011/06/26/obama-golfs-time-weekend/

    Comment by TGC — June 28, 2011 @ 5:35 am - June 28, 2011

  2. Obama hasn’t stopped campaigning since he became POTUS; he’s never really stopped. He campaigned for ObamaCare & every other thing that came out of the Pelosi-Reid Congress. Now that the Republicans control the House, Obama’s incompetence is more obvious. His eagerness to campaign is getting back to his comfort zone, but this will backfire. Why? Obama is acting like he’s not President of the United States. He can’t defy reality. But he will try. And fail.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — June 28, 2011 @ 9:01 am - June 28, 2011

  3. The president… seems put upon when forced to take on the real responsibilities of his job, like put forward a plan to reform Medicare

    But Dan, presidenting is so harrrrrrd! you have to make decisions! and all these people disagree with you, you can’t just order them, like in China!

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — June 28, 2011 @ 9:20 am - June 28, 2011

  4. Obamas never really had a real job.
    So it doesn’t surprise me that he’d have no work ethic.
    All the golfing all the vacationing, all the un necessary traveling,
    with this horrible Democrat recession on all the wars going on.
    Any other white old man President would be getting hammered.
    It bugs me that he is treated differently. He isn’t helping race relations even.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — June 28, 2011 @ 10:02 am - June 28, 2011

  5. Is the title the only thing Barack Obama likes about his job?

    Nope.

    It’s the perks.

    Actually, he likes the perks better than the title.

    Now that he gets Mooch-ell and the kids on the road more often, he likes motorcading out for transfats and extra doses of saturated fats.

    He really likes the motorcades. Especially all over Manhattan at rush hour. Its better than popping ants with a magnifying glass.

    Comment by Heliotrope — June 28, 2011 @ 10:48 am - June 28, 2011

  6. Another thing he loves is destroying this country as we know it, much better than perks and a title.

    Comment by Leah — June 28, 2011 @ 11:33 am - June 28, 2011

  7. Well Leah, Obama certainly destroys employment: http://hotair.com/archives/2011/06/28/video-neils-story/

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — June 28, 2011 @ 12:11 pm - June 28, 2011

  8. Seriously….Obama wanted so bad….health care for all. What did he do? He let the bumbling Reid and Pelosi handle it for the most part. And it’s a total Frankenstein.
    What else…DADT, Obama did nothing but sign it.
    What in Gods name has he WORKED at? Even the Chicago Olympics, he and Michelle just showed up…and they lost the vote.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — June 28, 2011 @ 1:06 pm - June 28, 2011

  9. for a second I thought you used “doe” on purpose and was going to marvel how you knew that usage…

    Comment by Tim — June 28, 2011 @ 2:16 pm - June 28, 2011

  10. for a second I thought you used “doe” on purpose and was going to marvel how you knew that usage…

    Well, if you’re going to affect some annoying delusion of intellectual superiority, the least you could do is quote your..ahem…”victim” and let us all in on the joke.

    Otherwise, you see, you’re just coming off as bitchy.

    Comment by Eric in Chicago — June 28, 2011 @ 2:37 pm - June 28, 2011

  11. LOL it’s nothing big Eric, it’s catching on in twitter as a post-LOLcatz verbiage. Mostly in the 20-24yr old crowd….the owls are using it…cough… ok it’s weirder when i type it all out…

    Comment by Tim — June 28, 2011 @ 2:43 pm - June 28, 2011

  12. LOL it’s nothing big Eric, it’s catching on in twitter as a post-LOLcatz verbiage. Mostly in the 20-24yr old crowd….the owls are using it…cough… ok it’s weirder when i type it all out…

    ROFLMAO….Yeah, I know that route. LOL :-)

    Comment by Eric in Chicago — June 28, 2011 @ 2:51 pm - June 28, 2011

  13. I don’t mind the golf…and as a golfer myself the peace and quiet of the links does help clear the mind…but it annoys me that Air Force One is in the air one day-out-of-three so that Pres. Obama can give vague and vacuous speeches all over the country near locations where he “just happens to have” campaign stops and elaborate donor-dinners to raise the (Dr. Evil Voice)ONE BILLION DOLLARS(/dev) for his re-election.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — June 28, 2011 @ 5:08 pm - June 28, 2011

  14. I hope that in November 2012 he will be resoundingly relieved of this burden.

    Comment by EssEm — June 28, 2011 @ 5:56 pm - June 28, 2011

  15. Is the title the only thing Barack Obama likes about his job?

    Nah. I’m pretty sure he likes the perks, too.

    Comment by bastiat fan — June 28, 2011 @ 6:30 pm - June 28, 2011

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