It's Complicated

Jon Stewart pointed out something interesting: how often President Obama or his underlings tell us how complicated or complex the job is.  So I did some searching on the White House web site to see how often such words appear in various speeches and remarks.  Below is a partial summary, going back only through April.  (Emphases added.)

"There are some complicating factors...  That is very, very complex...  It's the breadth and the complexity of the disaggregation of the oil, which I don't think was accounted for and anticipated in any plans. It's very complex. It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with personally... It's increasing vastly the complexity of the response, yes."  Adm. Thad Allen, June 7, 2010.

"Right now, we're still within the window where we don't yet know the outcome of the highly complex top kill procedure that the federal government authorized BP to use to try to stop the leak."  President Obama, May 28, 2010.

"And given the complexity of this procedure and the depth of the leak, this procedure offers no guarantee of success...  And so if you take a look at what's transpired over the last four to five weeks, there may be areas where there have been disagreements, for example, on dispersants, and these are complicated issues...  And as we are moving forward, the technology gets more complicated, the oil sources are more remote, and that means that there's probably going to end up being more risk."  President Obama, May 27, 2010.

"...while our humanitarian diplomacy helped to discourage forced returns of IDPs that would have complicated our broader policy objectives."  Office of the Press Secretary, May 27, 2010.

"There is also the allowance in the national contingency plan that if the resource adjudication process or the coordination becomes complicated -- and it's complicated in this place -- in this case -- that the President has the option of declaring something called a spill of national significance... The problem is exacerbated and much more complicated by the fact that it's 5,000 feet below the surface..."  Adm. Thad Allen, May 24, 2010.

"I think many DNIs beyond whoever is next will deal with some of the vagueness and many of the complexities."  Robert Gibbs, May 21, 2010.

"Q  Is there any concern that the thing is very complicated, just because it deals with complicated financial --  MR. GIBBS:  I don't doubt that it is enormously complicated."  Press Briefing by Robert Gibbs, May 20, 2010.

"Because as our world becomes more complex, whatever the merits of Adam Smith's invisible hand idea 240 years ago - and actually he didn't put it forward in quite the form its remembered - all those years ago, what we understand today is that there are enormous numbers of what economists call coordination problems, what other people call chicken-and-egg problems, where everybody will be better off if something gets done, but where it won't just happen without some convening and cooperation."  Presidential economic advisor Lawrence Summers, May 18, 2010.  [Huh?]

"That's part of what makes it complicated.  I'll be honest with you though, a lot of the complications in the IRS tax code, it just has to do with lobbying in Washington."  President Obama, May 13, 2010.

"Now, obviously, there are going to be tensions in such a complicated, difficult environment, and a -- in a situation in which on the ground, both Afghans and Americans are making enormous sacrifices."  President Obama, May 12, 2010.

"This Strategy calls for a balanced approach to confronting the complex challenge of drug use and its consequences."  President Obama, May 11, 2010.

"With additional arriving forces, we'll reinforce ongoing efforts to secure Kandahar, an environment that is uniquely complex and will require a unique solution.  This effort is being led by the Afghans and will focus on the complex political and governance aspects of Kandahar."  Gen. McChrystal, May 10, 2010.

"Perhaps the most complex threat we face today is that posed by -- to our own citizens by non-state actors and violent extremists, particularly if, God forbid, those violent extremists were able to get their hands on any weapons of mass destruction...  We're fighting on many fronts, from the brave men and women serving abroad in our militaries to the patient and tireless law enforcement professionals investigating complex and suspicious financial networks."  Vice President Joe Biden, May 6, 2010.

"You all recognize the challenges we're facing are bigger and much more complex than ever before...  one of the most complex disasters that we've seen."  First Lady Michelle Obama, May 5, 2010.

"I mean, it's a -- it is a big and complicated issue."  Robert Gibbs, May 5, 2010.

"That doesn't mean that there aren't going to be legitimate differences on the details of what is a complicated piece of legislation."  President Obama, May 4, 2010.

"Now, obviously that's part of what is complicating some of the booming and some of the response, but at the same time, has kept some of the oil away as well."  Robert Gibbs, May 2, 2010.

"It's always been noisy and messy, contentious, complicated."  President Obama, May 1, 2010.

"And you know -- you've learned these Senate rules are complicated."  President Obama, April 27, 2010.

"I don't know the degree to which that has complicated his life... We -- that's our foremost priority at this point, is doing all that we can to prevent further leaking and to stop any environmental impacts, obviously that getting to shore, a host of other things that are complicated by things like the weather."  Robert Gibbs, April 26, 2010.

"In fact, many practices were so opaque, so confusing, so complex that the people inside the firms didn't understand them,  much less those who were charged with overseeing them."  President Obama, April 22, 2010.

"Look, I think in many ways as these are complicated -- as the financial system is -- has a series of very complicated instruments."  Robert Gibbs, April 21, 2010.

"And the stuff ahead of us now is derivatives, it's ‘too big to fail,' it's complicated stuff -- okay?"  Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, April 14, 2010.

"It is a huge, complicated piece of business -- a couple of trillion dollars, thousands of people affected, thousands of people working in the industry...  And it's absolutely true that because health care is such a complicated issue, a lot of people got worried."  President Obama, April 1, 2010.

But things aren't always complicated!

"That's my second piece of advice, very simple:  Don't make excuses."  President Obama, June 7, 2010.

Randall Hoven can be contacted at or via his web site,