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September 29, 2009
Richard Cohen waiting for Obama to realize he's president
Richard Cohen, writing in the Washington Post, has finally noticed the same thing we here at AT have noted many times previously; Barack Obama is not leading as chief executive but is still stuck in campaign mode - as if he is still running for the office:
The trouble with Obama is that he gets into the moment and means what he says for that moment only. He meant what he said when he called Afghanistan a "war of necessity" -- and now is not necessarily so sure. He meant what he said about the public option in his health-care plan -- and then again maybe not. He would not prosecute CIA agents for getting rough with detainees -- and then again maybe he would.
Most tellingly, he gave Congress an August deadline for passage of health-care legislation -- "Now, if there are no deadlines, nothing gets done in this town . . . " -- and then let it pass. It seemed not to occur to Obama that a deadline comes with a consequence -- meet it or else.
Obama lost credibility with his deadline-that-never-was, and now he threatens to lose some more with his posturing toward Iran. He has gotten into a demeaning dialogue with Ahmadinejad, an accomplished liar. (The next day, the Iranian used a news conference to counter Obama and, days later, Iran tested some intermediate-range missiles.) Obama is our version of a Supreme Leader, not given to making idle threats, setting idle deadlines, reversing course on momentous issues, creating a TV crisis where none existed or, unbelievably, pitching Chicago for the 2016 Olympics. Obama's the president. Time he understood that.
It is gratifying that Cohen finally noticed this. Cohen might have added this is what we get when America elects someone with zero experience doing anything except running for higher office. If all someone has done of note is run a campaign, you are likely to get a president who sees the job as nothing more than an extension of his previous efforts to get elected.
I think it should be obvious that the fallacy "Presidents always grow into the job" should be debunked once and for all. Presidents bring to the job the skill set, the moral compass, the abilities they have shown previously in their lives. They don't suddenly learn to become a "leader." If they have not demonstrated that capability by the time they are Obama's age, they never will.
Now if we can only get the American people to understand that, we will never make the mistake of electing someone who's only qualification for the job was that he could raise a lot of money and make pretty sounding speeches.