Don't Blame Obama's Caddy

Traditional media pundits, especially the Obama cheerleading variety, blame lousy advice from president Obama's inner circle for his abject failure at Copenhagen to convince the IOC to shed its grace on Chicago.  No, this fiasco had little to do with advice, whether incompetent or otherwise. It was Obama himself who produced such a vacuous self-serving embarrassment. He didn't need help from anyone else to show the world, once again, that he has zero political instinct for leadership in governance. Never was so much presidential prestige needlessly vaporized for such inconsequential stakes.

Knowing and judging are the handmaidens of political instinct. Our greatest political leaders in the 20th century, TR, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower and Reagan, all had keen instincts about leadership in governance, knowing where and how to leverage the power of the office. Even Gerald Ford, usually considered decent but hardly a great president, made the decision to pardon Richard Nixon on his own, the right decision for the nation yet politically fatal for him.

The great presidents of the modern era had advisors; FDR essentially was the architect of the modern "Office of the President". But they had the common sense to keep advisors at arm's length; they were not products of handlers. They led and governed from their own center of gravity. They knew the president alone makes judgments, severable from whatever counsel is provided, good or ill. They knew presidents own their decisions; no one else. They knew all presidential decisions matter, at least symbolically, even those having little lasting impact on foreign policy or the domestic scene.  Finally and perhaps most important, they knew that the consequences of being wrong or squandering political capital are not trivial.

It is painfully obvious Obama doesn't comprehend any of this. Even if he did, it is unlikely anything would be different. Obama doesn't know enough about the office nor its history to lead or leverage, much less govern. Indeed he trivializes the office and seems indifferent to learning its history. He sees the presidency as simply a platform for his own self-indulgence. Speechmaking is the extent of his governance. Knowing and judging are conspicuously missing from his core competencies.

Obama himself surrendered the domestic legislative initiative for economic stimulus, energy and health care to the incompetent and insufferable Pelosi/Reid coalition. Obama himself launched the apology tour around the world. Obama himself handed over our moral standing to the thieves and thugs at the UN.  Obama himself genuflected to Marxist dictators and state sponsors of terrorism. Obama himself turned his back on our Eastern European friends. Obama himself repudiated the world's only democracy from the Mediterranean to India. Obama himself has abandoned his troops in Afghanistan. Obama himself invited Marxist and enviro-radical Van Jones, "Green Jobs Czar" and sex-pol extremist Kevin Jennings, "Safe Schools Czar" onto his White House payroll.

Are any of these disasters the product of lousy advice? Maybe. Maybe not. It doesn't really matter. Whether derived from Obama's own misjudgments, his inability to recognize and discard bad advice or even his failure in not knowing how to pick good advisors, the consequences are the same. The office of the president has been emasculated and its occupant reduced to a pathetic caricature, while the nation suffers.

Occasionally a double bogey round of golf can be blamed on a bad caddy. But chronically lousy golfers will still be lousy golfers no matter who's carrying their bag. Obama doesn't need a different caddy.  He never learned how to play the game in the first place.
Traditional media pundits, especially the Obama cheerleading variety, blame lousy advice from president Obama's inner circle for his abject failure at Copenhagen to convince the IOC to shed its grace on Chicago.  No, this fiasco had little to do with advice, whether incompetent or otherwise. It was Obama himself who produced such a vacuous self-serving embarrassment. He didn't need help from anyone else to show the world, once again, that he has zero political instinct for leadership in governance. Never was so much presidential prestige needlessly vaporized for such inconsequential stakes.

Knowing and judging are the handmaidens of political instinct. Our greatest political leaders in the 20th century, TR, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower and Reagan, all had keen instincts about leadership in governance, knowing where and how to leverage the power of the office. Even Gerald Ford, usually considered decent but hardly a great president, made the decision to pardon Richard Nixon on his own, the right decision for the nation yet politically fatal for him.

The great presidents of the modern era had advisors; FDR essentially was the architect of the modern "Office of the President". But they had the common sense to keep advisors at arm's length; they were not products of handlers. They led and governed from their own center of gravity. They knew the president alone makes judgments, severable from whatever counsel is provided, good or ill. They knew presidents own their decisions; no one else. They knew all presidential decisions matter, at least symbolically, even those having little lasting impact on foreign policy or the domestic scene.  Finally and perhaps most important, they knew that the consequences of being wrong or squandering political capital are not trivial.

It is painfully obvious Obama doesn't comprehend any of this. Even if he did, it is unlikely anything would be different. Obama doesn't know enough about the office nor its history to lead or leverage, much less govern. Indeed he trivializes the office and seems indifferent to learning its history. He sees the presidency as simply a platform for his own self-indulgence. Speechmaking is the extent of his governance. Knowing and judging are conspicuously missing from his core competencies.

Obama himself surrendered the domestic legislative initiative for economic stimulus, energy and health care to the incompetent and insufferable Pelosi/Reid coalition. Obama himself launched the apology tour around the world. Obama himself handed over our moral standing to the thieves and thugs at the UN.  Obama himself genuflected to Marxist dictators and state sponsors of terrorism. Obama himself turned his back on our Eastern European friends. Obama himself repudiated the world's only democracy from the Mediterranean to India. Obama himself has abandoned his troops in Afghanistan. Obama himself invited Marxist and enviro-radical Van Jones, "Green Jobs Czar" and sex-pol extremist Kevin Jennings, "Safe Schools Czar" onto his White House payroll.

Are any of these disasters the product of lousy advice? Maybe. Maybe not. It doesn't really matter. Whether derived from Obama's own misjudgments, his inability to recognize and discard bad advice or even his failure in not knowing how to pick good advisors, the consequences are the same. The office of the president has been emasculated and its occupant reduced to a pathetic caricature, while the nation suffers.

Occasionally a double bogey round of golf can be blamed on a bad caddy. But chronically lousy golfers will still be lousy golfers no matter who's carrying their bag. Obama doesn't need a different caddy.  He never learned how to play the game in the first place.