Obama can’t govern? Who knew?

tags: Obama

Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University.

... “Where Did Obama Go Wrong?” asked the Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin and David Nakamura ahead of the midterms. Their answer was a litany of second-term failures at home as well as abroad. Gee, who could possibly have predicted that? 

Well, in August 2012 I wrote an article for Newsweek arguing against giving Obama a second term. It brought the wrath of the blogosphere down upon my head. Paul Krugman accused me of “multiple errors and misrepresentations,” though he specified only one. James Fallows of the Atlantic pompously apologized on behalf of Harvard alumni. His colleague Matthew O’Brien claimed to have found as many as a dozen factual errors. 

There was indeed one error in the piece: I was wrong to suggest that the Affordable Care Act would add to the deficit. But the other alleged errors were, on close inspection, differences of opinion at best. In any case, my argument wasn’t about the mediocre performance of the US economy, which — as I said — could hardly all be blamed on the president. It was about the president’s style of leadership.

The reason the public has lost its illusions about Obama is that he has proved to be as bumbling an executive as he was beguiling as a campaigner. 

The president gave Congress a more or less free hand to design his flagship legislation — the stimulus, health care reform, financial regulation. The results were three giant messes. Worse, he has consistently failed to think through the implications of three major challenges to American power: the continuing spread of Islamic extremism, the military threat posed by an aggressive Russia, and the rise of Asia’s new economic superpower, China.

“We don’t have a strategy yet,” the president told reporters Sept. 4. He was referring to the specific challenge posed by ISIS. But those words pretty much sum up his foreign policy since 2009.

The perfect illustration is the president’s 180-degree turn on Iraq. Elected as the man who could get the United States out of George W. Bush’s war, he withdrew US forces far too hurriedly and — as predicted — has now been forced to send them back in to try to quell the resulting maelstrom. 

Today, of all days, this strategic ineptitude really rankles. Try telling the families of the brave servicemen and women who died serving their country over the past 11 years that America’s new foreign policy doctrine is “Don’t do stupid sh**.’’ ...

Read entire article at The Boston Globe

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