Being the leader of the free world is without doubt a difficult job, but no one has made it look more so than the current administration.
After less than two months in office, President Obama, the “Yes, we can” man is already “overwhelmed.”
At least that was the reason given for the shabby treatment the Obama administration gave British Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he visited last week. Not only did the President fail to provide a high profile press event for our closest ally, but he presented him with inexpensive gifts showing little thought or consideration.
The recent incident with the British prime minister is only one example of the recent problems the Obama administration has experienced in their less than two months in office.
In the first week in office the President signed an executive order banning lobbyists from the administration, only to turn around the next day and issue a waiver for a lobbyist to serve in his administration. Although he condemned John McCain over and over again during the campaign for his lobbyist ties and promised no lobbyists would find a job in his White House, he has now appointed over a dozen other lobbyists to key positions in the administration.
The failure to effectively vet administration nominees was seen when an embarrassing number of nominees were withdrawn from consideration due to tax problems. Even more embarrassing, others with similar problems were confirmed, including new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Those examples of incompetence and broken promises are not nearly as troubling as some of the other problems in these first several weeks of the administration though.
President Obama’s approach to bipartisan outreach was evident in a comment he made during a philosophical debate over tax policy. In the session with congressional Democrats and Republicans he said he would prevail because "I won." Soon thereafter congressional Democrats effectively shut Republicans out of conference negotiations on the bill.
In a broken promise for transparency, President Obama and the Democrat majority Congress violated their 48 hour review rule by allowing only one night to read the 1400 page so-called stimulus bill before voting on it.
The product of that process, runaway tax and spend policy and billons of dollars of pork in the “stimulus” bill and the President’s proposed budget, have brought even more problems for the administration as they have inspired concerned citizens all over the country to come together for “tea parties” (of the Boston variety) in protest.
Reaction has not only come from the grassroots on Main Street, but also from financial markets on Wall Street.
President Obama spent the time following his election, as well as his first weeks in office, talking about the “continuing disaster” and upcoming catastrophe that is the United States economy. As a result of such not so hopeful rhetoric, the “stimulus” bill and proposed additional bailouts, the “day-to-day gyrations of the stock market” now show a thirty percent loss of the Dow since election day. The Dow has dropped from 8,279 points to around 6,500 since Obama’s inauguration.
Supporters of Obama point to his still high approval ratings, but historically they are only average and in fact are lower than George Bush’s were at this time in his presidency (and that was following the contested election and Florida recount). The rapid drop of approval for Obama’s policies and his rising disapproval ratings may give his opponents hope for 2010 and 2012, but the media is on the job helping remind the public that being President is a tough job.
The New York Times has already done a story about how Obama is going gray after only 44 days in office. (Evidently the job of president is not the only tough one. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is blaming exhaustion for her recent gaffes in Europe.)
Maybe if President Obama didn’t spend so much time concentrating on how to vilify radio talk show personalities he would have more time to rest. He does save time on memorizing speeches by using the teleprompter though.
I don’t buy the exhausted excuse, although candidate Obama has used it before during the campaign. Jim Geraghty reminded readers of a warning from 2007 that Obama wasn’t yet ready for the job, “The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.” That warning came from not yet Vice President Joe Biden and provides an alternate explanation for the problems the President has been having.
Another theory, one I am leaning toward, is that this is part of an overall strategy. In addition to taking advantage of crisis, as Rahm Emmanuel advocated (or “embracing” it as one report put it), to advance a radical legislative agenda, there is an upside to the current chaos and catastrophe. The worse things look now, the better they may look in a year or so by comparison. If the Obama economic policies do not completely destroy what is left of the economy, and if, at least in the short term, some improvement in employment figures and other economic indicators is seen over the next two years, the media will be able to revive the Obamessiah image that was so successful in 2008.
This all depends on how far Obama goes with his radical liberal agenda and how the public reacts to it. If the current tea party movement continues to grow, he and Democrats may really be in serious trouble. If we experience a national security crisis everything that has happened thus far in the Obama presidency could be completely overshadowed in ways no one can now predict. President Obama and his administration have given Republicans plenty of ammunition to use to fight the Democrats’ liberal domestic agenda, but if it is to be of any value they will have to use it right now.