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.