Is this cynicism? Not really. It comes down to one's view of how much government can achieve by bureaucratic, top-down management.
The progressive project has limitless faith in the capacity of wise managers to run complex systems for the benefit of all. Untainted by the profit motive, bureaucrats can deliver services equitably and efficiently. Every liberal/progressive program has the effect of taking decision-making away from individuals, communities and local governments, and centralizing it in Washington.
President Barack Obama has doggedly championed this approach. His admirers, who share his belief in the power of central management, have noticed that there have been lapses on his watch. Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times summarized the disillusioned progressives lament thus:
"The biggest problems Obama has faced in the White House ... have come not from making policy but from trying to implement it. The calamitous launch of his healthcare plan last fall is the biggest and most painful example ...
"The 2009 economic stimulus plan's 'shovel-ready' projects that took months to start, the confused response to the 2010 BP oil spill, the flap over IRS scrutiny of conservative organizations, even the State Department failures that led to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi in 2012 -- all were mainly lapses in management, not policy."
Obama, McManus concludes sadly, is a "skilled politician and speechmaker but a lousy manager."
It's certainly true that Obama is a poor manager. He isn't interested in the nuts and bolts of policy implementation. He prefers to strike poses. He makes pronouncements like: "If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it. Period." (You'd think by now he'd avoid the intensifier "period.") As with his comments about the IRS scandal, and "If you like your doctor ... " and Benghazi, and the Justice Department targeting journalists, the important thing is to get the affect right, not to solve problems or take responsibility. It's unacceptable and a disgrace and no one is angrier than he ... and what's on "Game of Thrones" tonight? Maybe he should pose for a photo holding a sign saying "#ManageOurGovernment."
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