In the Middle Ages, when a young prince suddenly and prematurely became king, the royal court, the church leadership and other senior aristocrats would scrutinize his every word and habit for signs of what kind of mind would be deciding their country's fate and their personal prosperity and safety. Today, around the world, President Barack Obama's every word, every action, every inaction is being likewise scrutinized for similar reasons.
Prior to the November election, the only evidence we had of Mr. Obama's managing style -- and that evidence was indirect -- was the management of his campaign, which was brilliant. But whether he was its active manager or merely took guidance from a shrewd Svengali remains to be known.
Since the election, we have begun to get hints of his management style in four items Mr. Obama himself has described as of the highest priority to him -- and thus, one presumes, items to which he would have given his personal attention: Cabinet selection, closing Gitmo, the stimulus package and bipartisanship.
Regarding the Cabinet selection, he famously said he "screwed up." But from a management perspective, the unanswered question is: How did he "screw up"? Did he actively design the failed vetting process and actively assess the various negative pieces of information and fail to see their significance? Or did he "screw up" by letting others design the failed system and assess the data inflow? The former would show poor substantive judgment. The latter would show he wasn't paying sufficient attention to a presumably vital matter. We don't know yet which kind of "screw-up" it was.
The second item, President Obama's performance at the Gitmo executive order, provided brief but revealing insight into the president's personal involvement in vital decision making. He had campaigned hard on closing Gitmo. His first public signing as president was that executive order to close it down. The central issue of Gitmo's closing was and is: What do we do with the dangerous inmates? President Bush kept it open primarily because his administration couldn't figure out an answer to that question.
Thus, it was breathtaking that at the signing ceremony, President Obama didn't know how -- or even whether -- his executive order was dealing with this central quandary.
President Obama: "And we then provide, uh, the process whereby Guantanamo will be closed, uh, no later than one year from now. We will be, uh. Is there a separate, uh, executive order, Greg, with respect to how we're going to dispose of the detainees? Is that, uh, written?"
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.