Thursday, February 12, 2009


"The first however-many days of Barack Obama's presidency have been a study of amateurism."

Kathleen Parker, "So Far, Amateur Hour," The Washington Post, February 11, 2009.

Dismissive words like featherduster, lightweight, dilettante and many others haunted FDR before and after being elected. I always thought amateur had a wonderfully populist and democratic connotation. Weren't Darwin and Lincoln amateurs?

The evidence: Obama not controlling a stimulus bill that passed in record time and letting Congress do its job; admitting mistakes and taking ultimate responsibility for poor vetting of appointments (and I still don't quite understand all the swooning over Daschle); the press conference in which he answered rather than dismissed questions; reading to kids; and taking the debate out of DC to where the pain is in our cities and communities.

Not bad for three weeks. And then he says judge me by whether I'm successful. Very amateur.

"Absent is maturity -- that grown-up quality of leadership that is palpable when the real deal enters the room. There's a reason why elders are respected.."

You mean like "Sully?" Certainly not the bank or auto CEOs. The mad spoutings of Lindsey Graham and Rush Limbaugh? Let's not do a McCain rerun. Of course Obama will make some mistakes, live the life of trial and error. That challenge doesn't cease even when your an elder.

What Republican elected official or conservative columnist has stood up (of whatever age) and admitted the huge policy failures of the last 8 years and the depth of today's economic crisis? Where's the maturity, the real deal?

1 comment:

R Page said...

The real problem is not that Obama is an amateur but rather that no one in Washington is willing to take the political hit of tackling the real problem. According to data from the Federal Reserve, the debt to income ratio for the average U.S. household was about 53% in the 1950’s, 60’s and early 70’s. Today, that ratio is ~125% and Americans are addicted to credit. This has created an economic environment based upon a false sense of wealth instead of an increase in GDP. Now, both parties are saying we need to stimulate the economy through opening up credit markets. However, this will merely lull Americans back into a false utopia. Further, the economic recovery plan that Obama will be signing this week does not appear to have much in the way of increasing GDP. No doubt the trillions of dollars delivered through this spending bill will have some impact on some of the symptoms of our economic difficulties; however, the disease of loose credit and increasing debt will catch up with us once again. An economy can not sustain itself indefinitely on slight of hand and accounting tricks. It’s like a mark-to-market scheme for consumer spending. Didn’t we learn anything from Enron? Bottom line, both parties are broken and we need new blood in Washington. We need statesmen who understand the role of government in the facilitation of commerce, who will actually read legislation before voting on it and have the capacity to understand the impacts of legislation. Our representatives in Congress then need to connect the dots for their constituencies and then faithfully execute their oath.