Obama’s amateur governance
By EDWARD KLEIN
Last Updated: 11:00 PM, October 27, 2012
Posted: 10:15 PM, October 27, 2012
It’s hard to remember now, but only a month ago most political pundits were predicting that Barack Obama was going to win the presidential election in a cakewalk.
On the eve of the first debate in early October, Democrats were euphoric, Republicans were demoralized and depressed, and the political world was dismissing Romney as an amateur who was out of his league.
But then, as we all know, the campaign took a dramatic U-turn. Romney kayoed Obama in that first debate, and the same carping critics who had declared Romney’s candidacy dead in the water anointed the Republican challenger as the momentum candidate.
Suddenly, it was Barack Obama who looked like the amateur.
As president, Obama has shown himself to be inept in the arts of management and governance. He has failed to learn from his mistakes and therefore repeats policies, both at home and abroad, that don’t work. He invariably blames his problems on those he disagrees with and is so thin-skinned that he constantly complains about what people say and write about him. He is a strange kind of politician who derives no joy from the cut and thrust of politics, but who clings to the narcissistic life of the presidency.
The qualities that define him — his arrogance, his sense of superiority, and his air of haughtiness — have been on full display as Obama has sought a second term. In the debates and during the final weeks of the campaign, Obama has been prickly and defensive. His cheap shots at Romney (for instance, he mocked Romney for using the phrase “binders full of women”) and his use of the derisive word “Romnesia” have made Obama appear unpresidential, small and unserious.
Obama has always had scorn for anyone who disagrees with him. That was particularly obvious in the first debate.
“In debates, I watch body language more than content,” Stuart Spencer, the famous political consultant who ran Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaigns, told me. “That’s where it’s at in debates. And Obama came across as arrogant and preachy. He has a personality that hates to be questioned. He has to be right and have answers all the time. Even in his facial expressions, he was looking at Romney as ‘you fool.’ That was not a winning debate strategy.”
By all accounts, Obama doesn’t find joy in being president. Like Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, he is an introvert who prefers his own company to that of others.
I interviewed a former State Department official who told me: “While I was in the room, he’d get phone calls from heads of state, and more than once I heard him say, ‘I can’t believe that I’ve got to meet with all these congressmen from Podunk city to get my bills passed.’ ”
I heard the same complaint from people who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama during the last election. I interviewed a major Jewish-American fund-raiser who praised Obama to the sky while I had my reporter’s book open and I was taking notes. But as soon as I closed my book and put away my pen, he confided in me:
“My friends in the Jewish community who raised tons of money for Obama complain to me that they never hear from him. He never answers their phone calls. He’s not like Bill Clinton, who used to call them and ask about their wives and grandchildren and businesses. And you know what? I don’t hear from him either.”
What does all of this say about a president who hates the day-to-day, give-and-take of politics? Who doesn’t have respect for members of Congress? Who doesn’t show loyalty to those who supported him with their money, time and organizational skills?
What does this say about a president who doesn’t show any gratitude? Who has frozen Oprah Winfrey and Caroline Kennedy out of the White House after those two famous women helped make him president?
What does this say about a president who has ignored his African-American base to the point where every single African-American leader and businessman I interviewed for my book told me that they were disappointed and disillusioned with this country’s first black president?
I think it speaks volumes about his character, his inflated self-image, and his lack of qualifications for another four years in the White House.
Edward Klein is the author of the bestseller “The Amateur” (Regnery Publishing)