I hadn’t noticed until yesterday, but about a week ago yet another piece appeared in a national publication that confirmed what I’ve always suspected about President Obama: The man is either unable or unwilling to build the kinds of personal relationships necessary for good governance.
As I pointed out on this blog just before the new year and shortly after this NYT piece came out, Obama doesn’t like the business of politics, which often includes stroking the egos of allies and adversaries alike. Now along comes a piece by an Obama ally, Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, based on a series of memos leaked to him by Obama aides.
Lizza’s piece paints a picture not only of a man frustrated by Republican opposition but of an isolated president who, in the words of Michael Barone, “prefers getting information and making decisions by staying up late and reading memos rather than meeting with people.” The latter, as Barone observes, is quite a handicap “because face time with the president is one of his major sources of political capital.”
As you might expect, Daily Caller blogger Mickey Kaus is even more critical: “The President’s decision-making method – at least as described in the piece – seems to consist mainly of checking boxes on memos his aides have written for him.”
That kind of approach might work for a state legislator in Chicago, where Republicans are scarce and his biggest fear might have been a primary challenge from a fellow Democrat. But in the polarized world of Washington, a vigorous opposition can be expected and you have to be prepared to spend the time to minimize it.
There is no question that some of Obama’s opposition is rooted in utter disdain for the man – and, in some cases, outright racism. But I also think it’s fair to say that he’s brought a lot of it on himself. And I think Obama’s failure is one example of why governors tend to make better presidents than legislators: they know how to exercise executive power and, consequently, how to get things done.
Before arriving in Washington, Obama had no executive experience and, with the possible exception of four years as a junior associate in a law firm, had never even held a full-time job before getting elected to the U.S Senate, at which point he promptly started plotting his run for president.
And people are surprised that he struggles?