President Obama’s biggest mistake during his first term, he told CBS News in an exclusive interview, has been putting policy over storytelling.
Mr. Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama sat down Thursday with “CBS This Morning” anchor Charlie Rose in the White House Blue Room, where they discussed the failures and successes of his administration as he heads into another election, among other things.
And here’s the money line…
“When I think about what we’ve done well and what we haven’t done well,” the president said, “the mistake of my first term – couple of years – was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that’s important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.”
Is there a better way to illuminate what this administration has been about than this ridiculous quote?
Americans gave this guy a chance based on a story he had to tell – a citizen of the world, a black guy “articulate” and “clean” enough to be palatable to the white folks, a “pragmatist” who came up out of the Chicago political sewer and somehow wasn’t tainted by it (hey, that was the story), a different kind of president who would make America loved by the world, and a leader who would balance the budget by making government work more efficiently and “95 percent of Americans won’t see their taxes raised.”
That was the story of all stories. It got him the White House.
The problem is, America is and has always been a results-oriented culture. Americans hate bailouts of failed companies, Americans have little patience with rich dilettante kids of successful parents who act up (or at least most Americans have little patience with them) – and here’s an even better example.
You hire a coach for your football team. He’s got a great resume, he’s terrific in press conferences, he has the look of a superstar.
But for three years his teams go 4-12, 5-11 and 4-12. And in Year Four, he’s 2-6 halfway through the season.
Do you care what kind of story he has to tell you to make you feel better about the fact your favorite team isn’t going to the playoffs for the fourth year in a row under his tenure?
In other countries, maybe such a coach would have people wanting to give him more time. In America, a coach who stinks it up for four years in a row has exhausted the patience of just about everybody.
We can quibble about exactly what record Obama’s tenure would have produced as an analogy to an NFL season, but he certainly doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring and he’s not exactly a playoff contender. And ultimately, that’s his problem.
By issuing forth the stupid statement that what’s been missing is a better line of BS to feed to the rubes who elected him in the first place, Obama has put himself in the position of the guy who doesn’t think results matter. And that’s a real problem for him, because Mitt Romney’s best argument to be president is that he has a reputation of being a turnaround specialist – and America as a country better than 60 percent of the public think is going in the wrong direction could use a good turnaround.
And Romney’s camp jumped on the opening yesterday…
President Obama believes that millions of Americans have lost their homes, their jobs and their livelihood because he failed to tell a good story. Being president is not about telling stories. Being president is about leading, and President Obama has failed to lead. No wonder Americans are losing faith in his presidency.
Obama needs to be made to explain how a program of soaking the rich, essentially nationalizing one-sixth of the economy, doling out tax dollars to campaign donors and favored constituencies and imposing punitive regulation on as many sectors of the economy as possible is a good idea for the next four years given its performance in the previous four. Let him tell THAT story.