In an interview with People Magazine this week, President Barack Obama admitted that his first year in office has not delivered the united country he promised, according to an AP story today.
Obama lamented his inability to produce the pristine, unanimous country portrayed by his campaign in the interview. “That’s what’s been lost this year … that whole sense of changing how Washington works.”
Several other highlights of the interview, as reported by AP, make for interesting reading. Among them:
- “We all want work that’s satisfying, pays the bills and gives children a better future and security.”
- Obama said people have “every right to feel deflated, because the economy was far worse than any of us expected.”
- “When you look at what we’ve done this year on national security, we performed at a very high level in as difficult an environment as you can imagine.”
- He said the job is lonely in another way—the gravity of sending troops off to war or responding to an attempted terrorist attack. “That side of the loneliness of the job is what I signed up for and I actually think I’m pretty good at.”
If the rest of the People interview, which can be found on newsstands Friday, is anything like the advance release reported by the AP, it’s unlikely that the president will help himself. Frankly, he comes off as clueless in the quotes above.
First, lamenting the fact that he hasn’t united the country is laughable. Obama’s entire campaign, plus his persona as president since taking office, has been marked by a constant attempt to blame his predecessor for virtually everything. Whether the Bush administration did a good job or was popular is immaterial; the fact is those who supported Bush can’t be brought on board with the new president when he’s constantly attacking the former president – and even people who weren’t fans of the previous administration are unlikely to rally behind a leader who constantly gripes about the situation he was left with. Either Obama and his people aren’t smart enough to understand this rather basic truth or they’re disingenuous; either way, it’s poor leadership if the goal is unity.
Not to mention that Obama’s statements and policies have been divisive. Bailing out General Motors so as to reward the labor unions for their support of Democrats isn’t a plan for unity. Playing class warfare with taxes and corporate bonuses is divisive. Attacking Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Fox News is divisive. Assaulting the energy industry with cap-and-trade legislation and allowing the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide is divisive. Turning a blind eye to proven intimidation by Black Panthers wielding night sticks at polling places is divisive. “Acting stupidly” comments leading to Beer Summits are divisive. Government seizure of the medical sector is a divisive policy, particularly when it is rammed through Congress on nights and weekends with rampant bribes and zero transparency.
If the president didn’t realize that all of these things would engender opposition, he’s a fool.
Second, the idea that Obama cares about satisfying jobs which pay the bills is hard to stomach. If this were the case, why hasn’t he reduced marginal tax rates? Why hasn’t he done something about a corporate tax rate second only to Japan among developed countries? Why is he standing in the way of development of America’s energy resources off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts? Nothing in the president’s economic policies has promoted the growth of the private economy, and unemployment stands in double figures as a result.
Third, saying people have every right to feel deflated harkens back to Jimmy Carter’s malaise speech. We expect positivity from the president. Saying that the economy was worse than you expected makes it sound like you didn’t have a clue what you were doing when you took the job. That isn’t going to unite the country behind you, Mr. President.
And fourth, claiming you operated on a high level with respect to national security when the only thing which prevented an exploding plane full of 300 people from raining down over suburban Detroit was a bad detonator does NOT inspire confidence. It would have been far easier to give Obama a break were he to admit it took some time for his administration to get up to speed but he “gets it” now. He wasn’t able to say that, which means we are apparently supposed to accept his first year’s performance with respect to national security as perfectly fine. That’s not a prescription for unity, either.
It’s clear the president still has a lot to learn in his job, and it’s also clear he doesn’t understand this fact at all.