Obama's Work Ethic

Barack Obama has displayed a disturbing pattern of work ethics: shirking work; claiming success when he was not entitled to do so; hiding his failures; and claiming the work of others as his own -- when it was successful. These are not character traits that we should associate with Presidents.

Barack Obama won praise for Dreams From My Father, a 1995 memoir of his life that was published when he reached the grand old age of thirty-four. The provenance of the book has come into question, led by a series of American Thinker columns by Jack Cashill, who used textual analysis to ascribe its writing --or at least a good portion of it -- to Bill Ayers, Obama's neighbor, former Weatherman, Obama campaign supporter and partner in various activist groups in Chicago. This claim has been echoed in a new book by best-selling author Christian Andersen, Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage who wrote that sources close to the Obamas told him that Barack Obama turned over his notes and tapes to Bill Ayers to compose the book.

Subsequently, under questioning by Cashill on a nationally-syndicated radio program, Andersen averred that two separate sources in Hyde Park confirmed to him the story of sending the notes and tapes to Ayers.

Whoever wrote Dreams clearly embellished Obama's work history following graduation from Columbia. Obama claimed to have worked at a high powered consulting firm as a research assistant. A former colleague who sat down the hall from him debunked Obama's puffery in 2005:

First, it wasn't a consulting house; it was a small company that published newsletters on international business. Like most newsletter publishers, it was a bit of a sweatshop. I'm sure we all wished that we were high-priced consultants to multinational corporations. But we also enjoyed coming in at ten, wearing jeans to work, flirting with our co-workers, partying when we stayed late, and bonding over the low salaries and heavy workload.

Barack worked on one of the company's reference publications. Each month customers got a new set of pages on business conditions in a particular country, punched to fit into a three-ring binder. Barack's job was to get copy from the country correspondents and edit it so that it fit into a standard outline. There was probably some research involved as well, since correspondents usually don't send exactly what you ask for, and you can't always decipher their copy. But essentially the job was copyediting.

Obama may have felt the need to polish a resume that would fit on the back of a postage stamp, as my colleague Kyle Shiver has characterized his curriculum vitae. But the problem goes deeper than Cashill may have uncovered.

As a young attorney did he engage in the grind that is the fate of all young associates in law firms? Was he buried in books at the law firm library, barely able to keep his eyes open? Was he paying his dues? Not quite. Instead, he can be pictured with his feet up on his desk, scribbling ideas on a legal pad for Dreams of My Father -- the book that helped make him a star.

Allison Davis, a founding name partner of the firm that hired the young Barack Obama out of law school had this bit of history to share:
"Some of my partners weren't happy with that, Barack sitting there with his keyboard on his lap and his feet up on the desk writing the book."

I am sure Barack Obama's fellow associates were none-too-pleased, either. They were doing the work that paid for his salary. To whom did he bill his time? Tony Rezko? We will never know, since Barack Obama refused to release his billing records.

Incidentally, he did not finish the book when he was contractually required to do so. He jetted off to Bali, purportedly to work full-time on the book. Now, I ask you dear reader, is there any place in the world less conducive to work -- especially the arduous, thankless task of writing -- than a lush tropical paradise like Bali? Even the novelist James Michener had to wait until returning to the states to write a book about his time in the South Pacific. Nevertheless, somehow, miraculously, the manuscript was later completed -- but by whom?

Not content with the practice of law -- or whatever he was doing at the office, Obama left the law firm for greener pastures. While he was on the verge of running for the state Senate, he was tapped (by Bill Ayers, no less) to head the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a donor-funded effort to improve Chicago schools. This was the only time that Obama had experience running anything.

How did he do?

He wasted over 100 million dollars and the program was declared a failure in an independent audit. Did we hear much about this failure?

No. A cover-up shielded Barack Obama from being blamed for the program's failure. Access to records was denied to researchers. Stanley Kurtz appeared on the Milt Rosenberg radio show on WGN in Chicago to report his findings. The show was bombarded by the talk radio equivalent of computer denial of service attacks: a blizzard of phone calls, intimidating and harsh, that tried to shut down the show and silence Kurtz. The attack was coordinated by the Obama campaign.

So much for transparency, and welcome to 1984, delayed two decades or so.

When he became a state senator were there instances that revealed work practices that might rub people the wrong way? Yes there were.

His state senate colleagues took umbrage at his modus operandi. He was what came to be known as a bill-jacker: someone who takes credit for legislation that others had written and worked the aisles to get passed.

He had a powerful patron, state Senate leader Emil Jones, who blessed this practice as a way to promote the career of a friend:

Back in his days as a state legislator, one of Obama's early claims was that he passed a "major" ethics bill in Springfield, Illinois the State Capitol. But, author David Freddoso's research for the book The Case Against Barack Obama finds that Obama didn't actually write the legislation but that Illinois State Senator Emil Jones merely allowed him to take the lead of an already crafted bill. Freddoso calls Obama's role "bill-jacking" as opposed to crafting.

...Abner Mikva, a former congressman and federal judge, had recommended to Jones that he give Obama a popular piece of legislation barring political fundraising on state property and barring lobbyists and contractors from giving gifts to legislators. The bill had enough loopholes to be relatively harmless, but it was a step in the direction of reform. Jones gave it to Obama. Obama proposed it. It passed, 52-4.18 The "Friends and Family" man, the old ward-heeler, was even capable of making Obama look like a reformer.

Instead of taking the lead in writing and proposing legislation, it has been Obama's practice to join bills crafted by other people and attempt to take a partial or full measure of credit not due him.

Old habits die hard-he carried on the noisome practice when he became a U.S. Senator.

After weeks of arduous negotiations, on April 6, 2006, a bipartisan group of senators burst out of the "President's Room," just off the Senate chamber, with a deal on new immigration policy.

As the half-dozen senators -- including
John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward M. KennedySen.. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who made a request common when Capitol Hill news conferences are in the offing: "Hey, guys, can I come along?" And when Obama went before the microphones, he was generous with his list of senators to congratulate -- a list that included himself.

"I want to cite
Lindsey Graham, Sam Brownback, Mel Martinez, Ken Salazar, myself, Dick Durbin, Joe Lieberman . . . who've actually had to wake up early to try to hammer this stuff out," he said.

To Senate staff members, who had been arriving for 7 a.m. negotiating sessions for weeks, it was a galling moment. Those morning sessions had attracted just three to four senators a side,
Sen.. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) recalled, each deeply involved in the issue. Obama was not one of them. But in a presidential contest involving three sitting senators, embellishment of legislative records may be an inevitability, Specter said with a shrug.

He "embellished" his role-as the Washington Post politely put it.

Any more examples of his modus operandi? Why yes, there are!

Barack Obama had the audacity to claim to have worked across the aisle with John McCain on ethics legislation (a two-fer: he claimed bipartisanship and having worked on a bill) when in fact, that was a "misrepresentation" or "blooper" as FactCheck.Org (a highly regarded, non-partisan monitoring group) so delicately put it:

"I worked with John McCain" on ethics legislation. In fact, the two worked together for barely a week, after which McCain accused Obama of "partisan posturing" and added, "I won't make the same mistake again."

Obama offered a twisted account of his working with a Republican and "against party loyalty." He said he "worked with John McCain" on ethics legislation, when in fact their short-lived collaboration collapsed into bitter public wrangling long before any bill resulted.

How about claiming to be on a committee that had just successfully passed out some high-profile bit of legislation?

Barack Obama today boasted about a bill in "my committee,'' a committee on which he has no seat.

While speaking to the press in the Israeli town of Sderot, Obama mistakenly put the
U.S. Senate banking committee on his resume, although the Illinois senator does not serve on the committee and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is the chairman.

The Republican National Committee distributed an e-mail pointing out Obama's mistake with a subject line of "Obama's Gaffe Machine Rolls Into Israel."

During the press conference, Obama said, "Just this past -- this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don't obtain a nuclear weapon."
There he goes again.

How about his finely crafted speeches? Did he actually write all those on his own -- as did, say, Abraham Lincoln? No, though the mainstream media obscured (hid) this fact until after the election.

During the campaign, it was clear that he had plagiarized the speeches of his friend, Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts.   That revelation became widely-known. They shared a campaign strategist in David Axelrod.  What worked for Patrick, worked for Obama. The same type of ringing phrases, the same cadences, the same ideas. They had passed the test and helped to elect Patrick. Market-proven and battle-tested.

But what is not as well-known is the provenance of his famous "race-speech" made in Philadelphia after revelations of the bigotry of his Pastor-Jeremiah Wright-became public. Obama's campaign for the Presidency was at risk. What to do? Well-give a speech, of course-because the media loved praising his speeches. In this notable case, they went into overdrive with over the top praise for the brilliance of Obama who -the story was-had written the speech himself. Except, of course, that he hadn't. He didn't write it: it was manufactured for him by his ghostwriter-speechwriter Jon Favreau (Kennedy had his Ted Sorensen; Obama has his Jon Favreau). We had to wait for this revelation until after Barack Obama assumed office.

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal:

Remember Barack Obama's big race speech back in March, the one that invited comparisons to Lincoln? Neither does anyone else, but it seemed like a big deal at the time. On March 18 The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder did a short item called "Speechwriter of One" (quoting verbatim):

This wasn't a speech by committee... Obama wrote the speech himself, working on it for two days and nights.... and showed it to only a few of his top advisers.

This now appears to have been puffery, at least if the Washington Post has the story right:

One Saturday night in March, Obama called [Jon] Favreau and said he wanted to immediately deliver a speech about race. He dictated his unscripted thoughts to Favreau over the phone for 30 minutes--"It would have been a great speech right then," Favreau said--and then asked him to clean it up and write a draft. Favreau put it together, and Obama spent two nights retooling before delivering the address in Philadelphia the following Tuesday.

"So," Obama told Favreau afterward. "I think that worked."
Favreau is now the most highly paid of President Obama's staffers.  A matter of fact, he earns as much as he can legally earn at the West Wing-hundreds of thousands of dollars every year .  I suppose he is worth every one of our hard-earned dollars -- at least he is to Barack Obama.

So are we to treat his claim regarding his two books (The Audacity of Hope being the other) that he "actually wrote them myself" with some skepticism and the claim of Cashill with some credence?

A side effect of his sorry work habits is what he does when he cannot avoid having mistakes pinned on him. What does he do then? Jake Tapper of ABC News noted a very discreditable practice of Obama's: he scapegoats staffers as the ones to be blamed.

Is this the type of person anyone of us have ever enjoyed working with-let alone enjoy watching ascend the corporate ladder. Is this the type of person we want as President?

Has he continued this type of behavior as President?

Yes he has.

When his policies have come up a cropper he makes Cabinet and other leading officials fall on their swords so he can be shielded from owning up to his responsibility. . Lately, Greg Craig has taken the dive for Obama's Gitmo policy disaster. He was the latest fall guy.

The buck does not stop at Obama's desk. But we should have known that from his budget-busting deficits.

Is this why he dithers in the face of major geopolitical challenges? Is he afraid of making a mistake? Can he just vote present as President? Is this why he outsources so much domestic policy to Congress and foreign policy to the United Nations? Does he carry on his practice of voting present -- as he did as a state Senator -- while being President?

Does it seem he just doesn't like to do hard work?

Are all these habits just manifestations of a horrible ethic when it comes to work?

A friend of mine once criticized Barack Obama for not having an honest bone in his body. I responded that may be true -- but he sure does have plenty of lazy ones.

Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.
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