Obama’s (Lack of?) Political Prowess

by Sal on February 5, 2009

in Election 2008,Politics

Barack Obama is not that good of a politician, and that he doesn’t have the political skills necessary to have a successful Presidency.  Conventional wisdom says that Obama was a brilliant strategic politician who soundly beat John McCain last November due to his immense political skills and moving speaking ability.  As the transition wore on, Obama was compared to Lincoln, FDR, and JFK (and sometimes even posited as the Democrat version of Ronald Reagan).  The media has done an incredible job of building up Barack Obama so much beyond what an examination of the facts will show.

Let’s go back to the Summer of 2008.  John McCain had wrapped up the Republican nomination in February, and was somewhat out of the spotlight for most of 2008.  Barack Obama, on the other hand, was all over the media.  The Drive-By media was swooning over his speaking ability and Obama’s poll numbers were up, due to the immense media attention, the protracted Democrat primary process, and a somewhat unpopular President.  Yet the nation had not really gotten to know Barack Obama.  That began to change with the Obama World Tour of 2008.  Obama visited multiple countries and made several gaffes (including choosing to play Basketball instead of visiting our wounded troops), culminating in his speech in Berlin.  The press swooned, and used messianic language to describe Obama.  The American People, however, found the whole incident creepy and pompous.  Obama’s poll numbers began to drop.

The Democrat convention gave Barack a small bounce, but the nomination of Sarah Palin erased whatever bounce he had gained.  After the Republican convention, McCain had a solid lead, and Barack continued making gaffe after gaffe.  The excitement around Sarah Palin was real, and Obama looked like he was going to be toast.  Then, a series of financial institutions collapsed, and the Bush administration started sounding the alarms in order to get the TARP program passed.  McCain’s poll numbers started to drop as he floudered on the economy, and his decision to suspend his campaign probably sealed the deal for him.  Obama picked up on the fears of the American people regarding the economy, and propelled himself to victory.

What Obama and the Drive-By Media failed to realize is that the source of Obama’s victory was the economic crisis itself and the fact that he managed to get through the debates seeming competent, cool, calm, and collected.  McCain, on the other hand, often seemed disjointed and struggling to find a theme, only to get one when Joe the Plumber came on the scene, by which time it was too late.  Obama won the election because McCain lost it, Obama appeared a reasonable alternative, and people tend to want change when economic circumstances get as chaotic as they seemed at the time.

During the transition, the Media lauded how smoothly things were going and how the grownups were back in charge.  Yet the reason that the transition went smoothly is that Obama was not much a part of it.  He hid out in his Chicago office for much of it, pushed hard for an Economic Stimulus package, and stayed out of foreign policy.  Since his inaugeration, it has become apparent just how bad his transition was in vetting cabinet appointments and preparing for the stimulus, his first major piece of legislation.

Obama has never shown any real political or leadership skills in his life.  As a community organizer, most of his leadership efforts failed.  As a state legislator, he voted “Present” more often than almost anyone else.  As a U.S. Senator, he rarely showed up for work.  Now, as President, he can’t escape from the day to day and go hide somewhere and vote “Present.”  Obama is not a skilled politician;  he is a reasonable debater and he occasionally delivers a decent speech (his Iowa Caucus speech and his Election night speech were good speeches.  His Berlin speech, convention speech, and Inauguration speeches were rather mediocre), and has been fortunate enough to find a way to neutralize his opponent.

Obama is now getting rolled over by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  The Republicans are united and standing strong against this Pork-ulus bill.  The GOP has a chairman who can effectively argue our policy positions.  Obama has som serious work to do to regain control of the situation and govern.  It is not impossible, it is doable.  To date, however, Obama has never shown any skills to indicate that he will be capable of getting things under control.  If he cannot regain control quickly, he will lose the political capital that he gained with his decisive election victory, effectively neutering his administration before it even begins.  There is still time for him to recover, as things have not yet spiraled out of control.  He has to take charge and lead, something he has never before done in his adult life.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Southern Girl February 5, 2009 at 10:48 am

I couldn’t have said it better myself, Sal.


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