Tell me again why Barack Obama has been such a bad president? I’m not talking here about him as a tactician and communicator. We can agree that he has played some bad poker with Congress. And let’s stipulate that at the moment he’s falling short in the intangibles of leadership.
I’m thinking instead of that opening sequence in the show “Mission Impossible,” the one where Jim Phelps, played by Peter Graves, gets his instructions.
Your mission, Jim (and readers named something else), should you decide to accept it, is to identify where Obama has been a poor decision-maker. What, specifically, has he done wrong on policy? What, specifically, would you have done differently to create jobs? And what can any of the current Republican candidates offer that would be an improvement on the employment front?
I’m not interested in hearing ad hominem attacks or about your generalized “disappointment.”
I want to know, on a substantive basis, why you think he deserves to be in a dead heat with Mitt Romney and Rick Perry and only a few points ahead of Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann in a new Gallup Poll. Is it just that any president — regardless of circumstances and party — who presides over 9 percent unemployment deserves to lose?
Every day you’re pummeling him from the right, left and middle. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham even attacked the president for letting Libyan rebels take Tripoli instead of burying Moammar Gadhafi under American bombs months ago. Here we have the best possible result — the high probability of regime change for about one-thousandth of the cost of getting rid of Saddam Hussein and no bad feelings from the locals — and Obama gets savaged anyway.
Most of the bad feeling goes back to the first year or so of the Obama presidency. And in hindsight, those decisions really weren’t so bad. To prove my point, let’s review a few areas where he supposedly messed up.
From all sides: “He took his eye off jobs by pushing health care.”
Not really. Health care consumed enormous time and political capital in late 2009 and early 2010. But with the stimulus new and still being absorbed (with remarkably little scandal) into the American economy, it’s not as if health care distracted the president from another jobs program in that period. Sure, he should have rhetorically “pivoted to jobs” earlier, but substantively it wouldn’t have made much difference.
The all-purpose explanation from the business community is “uncertainty.” We’re told that people, and enterprises, won’t invest because they aren’t sure about future taxes. This is a crock. “People invest to make money,” the noted lefty socialist Warren E. Buffett recently wrote in the New York Times, “and potential taxes have never scared them off.”
Elections involving incumbents are inevitably hire/fire decisions. With foreign policy mostly off the table, hiring a Republican means buying his or her jobs plan. Firing Obama means rejecting where he has come down on big decisions. He and Romney will unveil their jobs plans in September. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from Democrats, Republicans and especially independents who voted for Obama the last time but have given up on him now. Why?
Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to be specific and rational, not vague and visceral.