Is Obamania Stopping Us From Questioning Obama's Competence?
Let’s imagine what would have happened had George W. Bush entered the White House, with one nominee for Commerce Secretary already withdrawn because of an investigation the most basic background check should have uncovered. All we would have heard about was Republicans’ corruption and Team Bush’s incompetence. Imagine it was followed by a trio of tax slobs, topped by a new Commerce Secretary from across the aisle who realized a week after his nomination that he and the administration were incompatible. (One wonders, did it take that long for Judd Gregg to realize that he was a conservative Republican and that the Republicans lost, he was being hired by a Democratic president?) And then, to top it all off, imagine if one of the tax slackers, who, by the way, was now in charge of the Internal Revenue Service, whose services were so in need his careless paperwork was overlooked, launched a critical financial program in such a nervous, vague, hamhanded way, the stock market plummeted after his presentation. This personnel trainwreck would have created a Tsunami of contemptuous laughter, particularly among reporters, pundits, and comedians.
This narrative suggests political bias, that the so-called “liberal media” was tough on George W. Bush, the Republican, and soft on Barack Obama the great liberal democratic hope. But former President Bill Clinton – and any of the many Clinton retreads still getting used to their return to power – could remind us all that Bill Clinton was pummeled mercilessly when his Attorney General nominee, Zoe Baird, had to withdraw because of her nanny problems, and the next leading candidate, Judge Kimba Wood, was caught in a similar embarrassment.
These – by contrast, relatively minor errors – saddled Clinton’s administration with a reputation for buffoonery. Clinton had a terrible time trying to shift the broader narrative and prove that he was indeed ready for prime time. To achieve that, he ended up having to reassign one of his young superstars, George Stephanopoulos, and hire an older Washington hand, David Gergen, within six months.
Careful analyses of the 2008 presidential campaign will discover a systematic bias in favor of Obama. His story was fresher, more compelling, and thus less scrutinized than Hillary Clinton’s, John McCain’s, or the other also-rans. Even some journalists have admitted in retrospect that many reporters liked Obama, loved the idea of Obama, and frequently gave him a free pass.
Still, there may also be a more benign explanation. The financial meltdown has sobered Americans – and reporters. Barack Obama’s call for a new, more constructive politics have resonated. This really is not the time for the kind of partisan, “gotcha” bickering that has marred our politics for so long.
All this makes Obama’s repeated missteps so disturbing. The stakes are too high for amateur hour. Obama needs to explain why his personnel process has been so spectacularly incompetent, what he is going to do to fix it, and what he has learned from this experience. There is a lot of goodwill and desperation out there, both of which Obama has been able to tap effectively. But rather than just talking beautifully, he must start governing competently.
comments powered by Disqus
mary lili jory - 8/16/2009
I like very much the writings and pictures and explanations in your adress so I look forward to see your next writings.
In the present lively world, food and clothing put on the line in our life have already to obtain the sublimation, life needs the entertainment, in the market shoe's design is all kinds, Women is Dakota and Sundance UGG Boots were the riotous multi-colors, each kinds of color and design are finitely looks like the young women's hairstyle , every day them use the ghd Hair Straightener to changes themself hairstyle,when went out they brought MP3 to wear the fashion to symbolize that Bose in ear headphones and Bose on ear headphones ,let us feel the fashionable news of life.
People to enjoy music, a need for a high-quality sound equipment to show the moving melody to enhance the music quality of life,It is the use of bose headphones.Now bose headphones for sale in hot.
Evan Shawn Powell - 2/18/2009
A partisan article, ignoring the partisan conservative media, about the partisan liberal media, complaining that being partisan covers up partisan liberal incompetence, ignoring partisan conservative incompetence, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Oscar Chamberlain - 2/18/2009
I notice that you did not refer to his attempt at bipartisanship with people unwilling to respond. Is that another one of his errors to which we are blind?
My point is not that he has not made mistakes in the areas that you point out. He has. My point is that among his other mistakes was his following through on an idea that you have made central to your posts.
kenny nmn komodo - 2/16/2009
"Obama needs to explain why his personnel process has been so spectacularly incompetent, what he is going to do to fix it, and what he has learned from this experience."
I have some answers for you:
1. Obambi himself is an incompetent administrator. He is a campaigner. Period.
2. He will blame the vast right wing conspiracy, the republican party, Sean Hannity or President Bush.
3. He has learned that he must be a more capable liar.
R.R. Hamilton - 2/16/2009
"Mistakes will be made, people will be compromised, but it is also a process that has come out of the failures of the Bush-Cheney administration
I knew the Obots would find a way to blame even the bad weather on Bush, but their own nominees' tax cheating? It seems that everytime I think I can't become any more cynical, I realize that I just can't keep up.
Cary Fraser - 2/16/2009
Given the incompetence of the press in its deference ot the Bush campaign for war in Iraq, I am not sure that it is in a position to raise questions about anyone's competence.
Further, Obama's problems with some of his nominees raises an interesting question - can any administration come into office without some members being tainted by political or personal baggage? Obama's problem may be telling us that American political culture is not a model of clean government - and that campaigning for change will not automatically produce cleanliness.
Finally, Obama's election represents the beginning of an inter-generational transfer of power. Mistakes will be made, people will be compromised, but it is also a process that has come out of the failures of the Bush-Cheney administration - failures produced by both hubris and incompetence. Even with the best of intentions, can the Obama generation clean the mess that has been left behind? That will be the true measure of Obama's competence as a leader.
Michael Green - 2/16/2009
Unfortunately, Professor Troy's failure here is the opposite of what the previous commenter mentions in his partisan railing. Studies have shown demonstrably that during the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush benefited from a far friendlier and more pliant press corps than Al Gore, and that the friendly coverage carried over into his administration is evident. Do I say that as a partisan? I say it as a partisan who has studied what others have said about the subject, rather than reaching the knee-jerk conclusions of the commenter and, it appears, albeit with more decorum and thought, Professor Troy.
John D. Beatty - 2/16/2009
The mass media, and the liberal establishment, look no deeper than the color of Obama's skin. If they did, as others do, they would see just a photogenic Cook County hod-carrier with at Chautauqua tent delivery and a picturebook family mouthing slogans as fed to him by his handlers, and doing exactly what the party tells him to do.
- U.S. Planned for Military Occupation of Cuba
- New picture emerges of Mata Hari, who faced firing squad 100 years ago
- Massive section of Western Wall and Roman theater uncovered after 1,700 years
- Fight over national monuments intensifies
- Martin Luther: Reluctant reformer who rocked Christianity 500 years ago
- Historian Keri Leigh Merritt defends activist scholars
- Historian digs into the hidden world of Mormon finances
- A historian who became a business professor?
- Allan Lichtman's response to critics of his book that makes the case for Trump’s impeachment
- "Do We Have To Fight Nazis Again?” asks historian Paul Ortiz