The Know Nothing President-cy

Rob Reiner aka Meathead: ‘Obama Is Right Around Where Reagan Was’ Politically

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2013/11/02/rob-reiner-aka-meathead-obama-right-around-where-reagan-was-political#ixzz2jX8VkDJg

Obama out of credibility — on domestic and foreign policy

As many as 80% of people who don’t have a company-hosted plan or insurance through the Medicare or Medicaid government programs may have to find new health coverage, said Robert Laszewski, an insurance-industry consultant in Arlington, Virginia. About 19 million people are included in this market. Using census data, that means as many as 16.4 million women are at risk of having their individual insurance coverage cancelled under ObamaCare – a majority of the market.  Every one of these women were deceived by the President and by Democratic Senators like Mary Landrieu, Jeanne Shaheen, Kay Hagan and Mark Begich, and Congressmen like Gary Peters and Bruce Braley.  They aren’t going to forget about that.


www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/10/31/obama-out-of-credibility-on-domestic-and-foreign-policy/

Obama is bubble-wrapped

By Dana Milbank, Tuesday, November 5, 8:14 PM

Near the end of his new book, “Days of Fire, ” my friend and former colleague Peter Baker recounts a moment in the White House Situation Room in 2008 when President George W. Bush was uncharacteristically reflective.

“The president looked at [Defense Secretary] Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, who had succeeded Peter Pace as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and harked back to the critical days in 2003 before he launched the war that had become so problematic. ‘You know,’ he recalled, ‘when I made the decision on Iraq, I went around the room to everybody at that table, every principal. “You in? Any doubts?” Nothing from anybody.’ ”

As President Obama sifts through the wreckage of his health-care rollout, let’s hope he’s having similar reflections about why he didn’t know the launch of his presidency’s signature policy would be so ugly.

In one account of what even administration officials acknowledge is a debacle, the Wall Street Journal reported that Obama’s policy advisers were aware long ago that the president’s promise that “if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it” wouldn’t hold up. “White House policy advisers objected to the breadth of Mr. Obama’s ‘keep your plan’ promise,” the Journal reported, citing a former senior administration official. “They were overruled by political aides, the former official said. The White House said it was unaware of the objections.”

Obama, to borrow Bush’s phrase, heard “nothing from anybody.”

No, the Obamacare pratfall is not Obama’s Iraq: The magnitude is entirely different, and the problems — Web site malfunctions and a wave of policy cancellations — are fixable. But the decision-making is disturbingly similar: In both cases, insular administrations, staffed by loyalists and obsessed with secrecy, participated in group-think and let the president hear only what they thought he wanted to hear.

In a damning account of the Obamacare implementation, my Post colleagues Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin described how Obama rejected pleas from outside experts and even some of his own advisers to bring in people with the expertise to handle the mammoth task; he instead left the project in the care of in-house loyalists. “Three and a half years later, such insularity — in that decision and others that would follow — has emerged as a central factor in the disastrous rollout,” Goldstein and Eilperin reported.

Their report is based in part on a prescient memo sent to the White House in May 2010 by Harvard professor David Cutler, an outside adviser on health-care reform. “I am concerned that the personnel and processes you have in place are not up to the task, and that health reform will be unsuccessful as a result,” he wrote. “My general view is that the early implementation efforts are far short of what it will take to implement reform successfully…I do not believe the relevant members of the administration understand the president’s vision or have the capability to carry it out.”

Cutler identified many of the problems that would later plague the Obamacare rollout: The perception of secrecy, the lack of qualified personnel and the likelihood that “if you cannot find a way to work with hesitant states and insurers, reform will blow up.”

Instead, Obama followed a different governing philosophy: Dance with the one that brung ya. He figured that those who helped him enact the health-care law should be the ones to implement it.

I’ve written frequently about Obama’s insularity. Like his predecessor, he has rewarded loyalty and surrounded himself with like-minded advisers disinclined to dissent. This, combined with a Bush-like fetish for secrecy, has left the president in a bubble, struggling to find support in Congress or among the public.

That’s what makes the Iraq comparison resonate, even without Obama’s call for a technology “surge ” to HealthCare.gov inviting the comparison. Although the policies are entirely different, both were unforced errors aggravated by a president’s insularity. Both men failed to hear warnings (about the intelligence and the military plan, in Bush’s case; about problems with the exchanges and the Web site, in Obama’s), overstated their cases (Bush’s hysteria about Iraq’s nuclear program; Obama’s keep-your-plan promise) and used the other side’s partisanship as an excuse to withhold information.

One of those who has made the Iraq comparison, National Journal’s Ron Fournier, argues that Obama “ needs to do some soul-searching. What did I miss, and why? What was kept from me, and why?

Bush didn’t ask those questions until his presidency was nearly over. Obama still has some time to cure the ills of insularity.


www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-obama-is-bubble-wrapped/2013/11/05/8779997a-465b-11e3-a196-3544a03c2351_story.html

What did President Obama know and when did he know it?
By Dana Milbank, Published: October 28

For a smart man, President Obama professes to know very little about a great number of things going on in his administration.

On Sunday night, the Wall Street Journal reported that he didn’t learn until this summer that the National Security Agency had been bugging the phones of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders for nearly five years.

That followed by a few days a claim by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that Obama didn’t know about problems with the HealthCare.gov Web site before the rest of the world learned of them after the Oct. 1 launch.

It stretches credulity to think that the United States was spying on world leaders without the president’s knowledge, or that he was blissfully unaware of huge technical problems that threatened to undermine his main legislative achievement. But on issues including the IRS targeting flap and the Justice Department’s use of subpoenas against reporters, White House officials have frequently given a variation on this theme.

Question: What did Obama know and when did he know it?

Answer: Not much, and about a minute ago.

The Associated Press’s Josh Lederman led off Monday’s White House briefing with an obvious question: “Was the president kept out of the loop about what the NSA was doing?”

“I am not going to get into details of internal discussions,” press secretary Jay Carney replied, repeating previous promises that “we do not and will not monitor the chancellor’s communications.” This formulation conspicuously omits the phrase “did not.”

CNN’s Jim Acosta cited the HealthCare.gov rollout and the IRS targeting, which Obama said he learned about through news reports. “Is there a concern,” Acosta asked, “that the president is being kept in the dark on some of these issues?”

Carney told Acosta he had “conflated a bunch of very disparate issues.”

“Republican critics,” Acosta said, “are making the case, though, that the president appears to be in the dark about some pretty significant stories that are swirling around this White House.”

“Well, Republican critics say a lot of things, Jim,” Carney replied icily.

That’s true. But in this case, the Republicans understated the number of issues on which the president has claimed to be in the dark. A compilation by the Republican National Committee titled “The Bystander President” cited the NSA spying on Merkel, the Obamacare rollout and an investigation of the IRS’s targeting of political groups (the White House counsel knew of the inquiry but said she didn’t inform Obama). The RNC also mentioned the failure of clean-energy company Solyndra, which had received government funding (Carney had said Obama read about it in “news accounts”), and the attempts to go after reporters’ phone and e-mail records (which the president also found out about from reading the news, Carney said).

The RNC didn’t mention that Obama had allegedly known nothing about an FBI investigation of an affair involving David Petraeus that led him to resign as CIA director. Neither did it mention two other claims that conservatives often question: Obama’s ignorance of a guns-on-the-border sting operation called “Fast and Furious” that went awry, and his unawareness of requests for additional diplomatic security in Libya before a U.S. outpost in Benghazi was attacked.

There’s no reason Obama should have known about Fast and Furious or diplomatic security requests. But how could he not know his spies were bugging the German chancellor?

“Is it believable that the president would not know about surveillance of the head of state of a close American ally?” ABC News’s Jon Karl asked Carney. “Does that sound plausible to you?”

This finally provoked a hint from Carney that Obama did, in fact, know that the NSA was bugging Merkel. “The Wall Street Journal probably doesn’t appreciate the suggestion that their story is wrong,” he said, referring to a report that said Obama learned of the activity in the summer, “but I would say simply that we’re not going to comment on specific activities reported in the press,” he said.

Another hint came from Carney’s assurance that “the president has full confidence in General [Keith] Alexander and the leadership at the NSA.” Obama probably wouldn’t have such confidence if that leadership had kept him in the dark about something as consequential as the bugging of world leaders’ phones.

On one level, it would be reassuring — and much more credible — if the White House admitted that Obama is more in the loop than he has let on. On another level, it would be disconcerting: Is it better that he didn’t know about his administration’s missteps — or that he knew about them and didn’t stop them?


www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-what-did-president-obama-know-and-when-did-he-know-it/2013/10/28/584702d0-4013-11e3-a751-f032898f2dbc_story.html

Where is Casey Stengel when we need him? In 1962, as the manager of the brand new and determinedly hapless New York Mets — 40 wins, 120 losses — he looked up and down his bench one dismal day and wondered, “Can’t anybody here play this game?” That phrase kept coming at me recently as I watched the impressively inept performance of the Obama administration in both foreign and domestic policy. On a given day, this administration makes the ’62 Mets look good.

…The debacle of the Affordable Care Act’s Web site raised similar questions about confidence. This was supposed to be Obama’s Big Deal. The president has other accomplishments — navigating out of the Great Recession was no minor feat — but restoring the status quo does not get your face on Mount Rushmore. It takes achievement, a program — something new and wonderful. The Affordable Care Act was supposed to be it.

Something went wrong. People could not sign up. Why? Not sure. Who’s at fault? Apparently no one. An act of God. Something that could never have been foreseen. Another president might have had someone in the White House calling every day — no, twice a day — to make sure the program was going to work. But no, it was a shock to everyone, and when the White House rolled out its gigantic cake — maestro, some music please — no one jumped out.

Pathetic.

…History will someday provide perspective and say, possibly, that Syria and Obamacare did not matter. I doubt it. At the least, they help validate the once-frivolous Republican charges of incompetence. A competent president would beware. As Casey Stengel might note, strike three is coming up.


www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/richard-cohen-a-question-of-competence/2013/10/28/10539e20-3ffa-11e3-a624-41d661b0bb78_story.html


The White House Comedy Club
By Kathleen Parker, Published: October 25

While the nation’s attention has been riveted on the Keystone Congress, the executive branch was busy developing its own comedy routine. Picture the cast (you know the characters) shrugging their shoulders in unison: “Who, me?”

This would be the response to the glitch-rich health-care rollout, for which no one seems responsible. “Beats me. I thought it was working!” This would also be the response to the eavesdropping scandal, which soon could become an international showdown. “Who knew?” Hint: He used to work at the National Security Agency (NSA) and now lives in Russia.

Not least, the shrug also would be the response to a White House rumor that a certain Republican House leader said to President Obama during a government shutdown meeting, “I cannot even stand to look at you.”

Except no one said it. Shrug.

The rumor kicked off uncharacteristically glitch-free when Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) heard it from what he apparently considered a reliable source and posted it on his Facebook page. Early rumor embellishments suggested that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was the demon source, which later was clarified to impugn Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) who denied it.

In fact, no one said it, according to a White House official, who attributed the untruth to a “miscommunication” during a report by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Of course, Reid told the entire Senate Democratic caucus, identifying Sessions as the evildoer. Durbin did not name Sessions in his post.

Voilà! A rumor is born. Roll cameras. The White House regrets the “misunderstanding.” Cut.

Meanwhile, the “rollout,” a term forever tarnished by the ineptitude displayed since Oct. 1 when Americans were finally going to be able to sign up for “affordable” (translation: I buy, you pay) health insurance, has been an embarrassment. Even if one is inclined to grant the benefit of the doubt (because technology can be a beast), evidence suggests that the “glitches” were the result of poor judgment and bad decisions.

But whose?

Four contractors hired to set up the computer system testified during congressional hearings that system testing began just two weeks before the launch date — and the test failed. Part of the problem was a decision not to allow customers to browse anonymously, as most people doubtless would prefer. Privacy and all that (chortle, chortle). Instead, people had to fill out forms before they could take a peek at the merchandise — an unmanageable burden to a system inadequate for the immense demand.

Who made that decision? The contractors testified they didn’t know who made the decisions or who was responsible for correcting problems. One can blame the computer guys, of course. Or demand the head of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, under whose supervision the Affordable Care Act falls. But ultimately, the responsibility for the popularly known “Obamacare” rests with historic recession, a record unemployment that we needed to overhaul the entire health-care industry.

Not to drone on, but yet another “meanwhile” demands attention: A photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the front page of Friday’s Wall Street Journal saves writers a thousand words. She may be giving the evil eye to a photographer as she arrives at a European Union summit in Brussels, but it perfectly captures sentiments she has expressed upon learning of a report that the NSA had been listening to her cellphone conversations .

Not only Merkel but as many as 35 world leaders may have been targets of our eavesdropping, according to Britain’s Guardian newspaper. They are not amused.

Consequences, which include potential damage to a transatlantic free trade agreement, are yet to be fully imagined. What we cannot avoid registering is that we look like not the glimmering city on the hill but a ship of untrustworthy fools.

We reportedly eavesdrop on our allies and force citizens to buy insurance through a system we can’t manage. We concoct character-smearing rumors and attach them to our political adversaries. And that’s just the executive branch. Most important, we have damaged our bonds of trust with nations we need to keep as friends.

Any one of the above would make for a very bad week in governance. Combined, they suggest an uncomfortable conclusion to the world we purport to lead: The lights are flickering in the city on the hill, and our ship of state is foundering.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-the-white-house-comedy-club/2013/10/25/4765e700-3db2-11e3-b6a9-da62c264f40e_story.html

U.S. inattention to Libya breeds chaos


www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-us-inattention-to-libya-breeds-chaos/2013/10/25/946a2270-3d92-11e3-b6a9-da62c264f40e_story.html

Foreign policy based on fantasy

“One is forced to wonder whether disarmament or arms control issues, severed from economic and political issues, might be another instance of focusing on the symptoms of a problem instead of the disease itself.”

Barack Obama wrote those words in 1983, when he was a student at Columbia University. He was describing the nuclear freeze movement and how its focus on warhead numbers left the larger social justice issues of the Cold War era unaddressed. But he could just as well have been describing his own policies in the Middle East 30 years later — and why they have driven a wedge between the United States and some of its closest allies.

In his zeal to extract his administration from what he sees as a regional quagmire, Obama, like the old freeze movement, has adopted a narrow and high-altitude approach to a complex and sprawling set of conflicts. Rising above the carnage in Syria — or “somebody else’s civil war,” as he called it in his recent speech at the United Nations — he has adopted a priority of destroying the country’s chemical weapons arsenal. He seeks to put stronger safeguards on Iran’s nuclear program while sidestepping its larger effort to use terrorism and proxy wars to become a regional hegemon.

From a certain Washington point of view, Obama’s aims look worthy and, better yet, plausibly achievable — unlike, say, establishing democracy in Iraq. The problem with the approach is that it assumes that the Syrian civil war and other conflicts across the region pose no serious threat to what Obama calls “core U.S. interests,” and that they can be safely relegated to the nebulous realm of U.N. diplomacy and Geneva conferences, where Secretary of State John Kerry lives.


www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jackson-diehl-foreign-policy-based-on-fantasy/2013/10/27/cfd74b06-3cc2-11e3-a94f-b58017bfee6c_story.html

What Obama is not prepared to do is topple Assad militarily. “We are not seeking to help the opposition win a civil war,” said a White House official. While the United States will continue to provide overt and covert aid to the rebels, the goal is “strengthening their negotiating position” at an eventual peace conference in Geneva, not military victory.

But let’s be honest: This is basically a formula for stalemate in Syria, with continuing carnage and al-Qaeda growth there. Though it sounds like a low-risk strategy, the administration’s disengaged approach is actually quite dangerous.


www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-pitfalls-of-a-realist-middle-east-strategy/2013/10/30/7601fe4e-40e3-11e3-a624-41d661b0bb78_story.html

Why Arabs Fear a U.S.-Iran Détente

By MARWAN BISHARA
Published: October 27, 2013

PARIS — Tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United States over Washington’s approach to the Middle East were brewing for months before they burst into the open last week.

First, there was the American inaction in Syria and lack of progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace. Then came America’s withdrawal of aid to the Egyptian military after the July coup. Now President Obama is pursuing a very public rapprochement with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s archrival.

The mounting disagreements between the two longtime allies is now in full public view. Last week, the head of Saudi intelligence warned that it would stop cooperating with the United States on certain issues. That came just days after Saudi Arabia stunned even some of its own diplomats when it refused a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council, citing its anger over the world’s failure to respond to the crisis in Syria.

This spat reflects the Arab world’s deepening frustration with American policy toward Syria, Egypt and Palestine — as well as extreme skepticism about a possible thaw in America’s relations with Iran.

The Arabs have learned from bitter experience that whether by confrontation or collaboration, whatever Iran, America and Israel decide to do leaves them feeling trampled. Like an African proverb says: Whether the elephants fight or play, the grass gets trampled.

America chose Iran and Israel, over their Arab neighbors, as its designated “regional cops” in the 1960s and ’70s, at the height of the Cold War. Since the United States and Iran became sworn enemies after the 1979 revolution, America’s military wishes have by and large been carried out by Arab proxies, often at great cost in blood, treasure and stability. Lebanon, Iraq and Syria are among the countries that have suffered immensely.

Strikingly, until last week, it was only Israel, not its Arab neighbors, that had criticized the thaw in U.S.-Iranian relations (even though Israel might gain a lot from a deal that curtails Iran’s nuclear ambitions).

But ultimately, reconciliation between America and Iran will require compromise over Arab, not Israeli, interests. And these interests are neither Washington’s to cede nor Iran’s to brush aside.

Arab powers fear that negotiations between America and Iran are likely to leave Israel as the one nuclear power in the region, while allowing its occupation of Palestine to continue unabated.

Improved relations between Iran and America could offer benefits: a lifting of Western sanctions and American recognition (however grudging) of Iran’s growing regional influence, starting with Syria, Bahrain and the Gulf region. The United States could use Iran’s help to stabilize Syria — as it helped with Afghanistan after 9/11.

But sooner than later, what appears to be a great diplomatic breakthrough may be revealed to be no more than hopping over a volcano.

That’s because Iranian-American détente will likely deepen the sectarian divisions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, setting the stage for an all-out regionwide sectarian conflict.

Since its 1979 revolution, Iran has become increasingly militarized and religiously radicalized. The Shiite-Sunni tensions that fueled the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88 have only grown worse.

As the Saudi government made clear last week, authoritarian Sunni regimes in the region will probably seek to undermine — rather than accept — any agreement that foresees growing Iranian influence in their backyard.

That polarization will inadvertently help Al Qaeda and other extremist Sunni groups, who are bound to see in Iranian-Western rapprochement a tool to multiply their recruits by stoking sectarian hatred. It has already happened in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, and it’s likely to continue.

The consequences are potentially disastrous. Shiite-Sunni fault lines extend through most oil-producing countries. The damage to the regional and global economy from a disruption in the supply of oil could be huge.

But none of this is preordained or inevitable.

The theological roots of the Sunni-Shiite divide might go back 13 centuries, but the violence we are witnessing today is politically motivated and aggravated by foreign intervention in the region.

The Arab states rejected America’s 2003 war in Iraq, which is now ruled by an authoritarian prime minister who is firmly under Iran’s influence. They are not taking kindly to Iran’s continued meddling in the region, including its military support for Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. Indeed, the Syrian opposition has rejected any role for Iran in talks over the future of their country.

While the elephants have been playing, and fighting, Arab leaders have been watching and learning. They know that long-term regional stability is a game they can play, too.

With 370 million people in 22 countries that range from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, Arabs are bound to disagree about plenty of things. But they generally support a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction — and that applies to both Iran and Israel.

The Arab nations, because of their size and strategic significance, are indispensable in shaping the region’s future and its security. Alienating them is wrong — and dangerous.

If, as Mr. Obama said recently at the United Nations, he believes that it is in America’s best interest “to see a Middle East and North Africa that is peaceful and prosperous,” he needs to make sure the Arabs are part of, and don’t lose from, any future bargain with Iran.

Marwan Bishara is senior political analyst at Al Jazeera and the author of “The Invisible Arab: The Promise and Perils of the Arab Revolution.”


www.nytimes.com/2013/10/28/opinion/why-arabs-fear-a-us-iran-detente.html


Matt McClain/The Washington Post - Deborah Persico was recently informed that her health insurance plan was being canceled. She learned that a similar plan will cost her much more.

If the poor, sick and uninsured are the winners under the Affordable Care Act, the losers appear to include some relatively healthy middle-income small-business owners, consultants, lawyers and other self-employed workers who buy their own insurance. Many make too much to qualify for new federal subsidies provided by the law but not enough to absorb the rising costs without hardship. Some are too old to go without insurance because they have children or have minor health issues, but they are too young for Medicare.

Others are upset because they don’t want coverage for services they’ll never need or their doctors don’t participate in any of their new insurance options.

“There are definitely winners and losers,” said Sabrina Corlette, a senior research fellow at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. “The problem is that even if the majority are winners, they’re not the ones writing to their congressmen.”

Marlys Dietrick, a 60-year-old artist from San Antonio, said she had high hopes that the new law would help many of her friends who are chefs, actors or photographers get insured. But she said they have been turned off by high premiums and deductibles and would rather pay the fine.

“I am one of those Democrats who wanted it to be better than this,” she said.

Her insurer, Humana, informed her that her plan was being canceled and that the rate for herself and her 21-year-old son for a plan compliant with the new law would rise from $300 to $705. On the federal Web site, she found a comparable plan for $623 a month. Because her annual income is about $80,000, she doesn’t qualify for subsidies.

A cheaper alternative on the federal exchange, she said, had a premium of $490 a month — but it was an HMO plan rather than the PPO plan she currently has. “I wouldn’t be able to go to the doctor I’ve been going to for years,” she said. “That is not a deal.”

Ward4DC wrote:
11/3/2013 10:53 PM EST

I rarely post comments on the Washington Post blog because there seem to be a lot of personal, racist, and vicious attacks against others for having an opinion. I’ve noticed, JudyJupiter posts a lot on here and she and others have made personal attacks against others (BarnabasCollins). I’m a registered Democrat and I will admit, President Obama lied to the public and this country is in worse shape since Obama has been in office. I have about 10 years before I retire and I would like to know how this Affordable Health Act is affecting retirees health insurance and how much of an increase they are seeing for 2014. I employed at a D.C. law firm and I have employer health insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield. My health employer health insurance will increase a lot for 2014. I believe Blue Cross in Maryland asked for a 27% increase on their insurance premiums. I thought Obamacare purpose was to decrease insurance rates for all with health insurance? I’m not seeing this and the middle class and low income insurance rates are increasing. For the record Judy, all low income people aren’t on welfare or getting hand outs from the government. Many low income people work and they earn less than $40,000 in the D.C. area.


www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/for-consumers-whose-health-premiums-will-go-up-under-new-law-sticker-shock-leads-to-anger/2013/11/03/d858dd28-44a9-11e3-b6f8-3782ff6cb769_story.html

Number of Times Obama Promised People Could Keep Their Health Plans: 24


http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2013/10/30/number-of-times-obama-promised-people-could-keep-their-health-plans-24-n1733069

The President’s missed opportunity

By Jonah Goldberg
November 1, 2013 | 8:19pm

Often in error but never in doubt, President Obama could walk into the Rose Garden and step on a half-dozen rakes like Foghorn Leghorn in an old Looney Tunes cartoon, and the official line would be, “He meant to do that.”

And the amazing thing is that so many people believe it. “Obama is like a championship chess player, always several moves ahead of friend and foe alike. He’s smart, deft, elegant and subtle,” proclaimed then-New York Times columnist Bob Herbert in 2009. It’s an image of the president that his biggest fans, in and out of the press, have been terribly reluctant to relinquish — because it confirms the faith they invested in him. Nobody ever likes to admit they were suckered.

But the fiction of Obama as a man three steps ahead has taken a terrible beating, if you have eyes to see it.

The budget cuts under the so-called sequester are the law of the land because Obama thought he was out-thinking his opponents when he gave budget-cutters budget cuts. Now he’s stuck railing against his own idea. His allegedly revolutionary decision to turn his presidential campaign into a personal political organization independent from the Democratic Party has turned out to be the most expensive way ever to generate smarmy and ineffectual e-mail spam.

And, if you want to believe that Obama’s goal in Syria all along was to elevate Vladimir Putin and alienate all of our Middle East allies, including Saudi Arabia and Israel, to make Bashar al-Assad our strategic partner while he finds more politically correct ways to slaughter his own people, well, that’s nice.

Or consider Obama’s only clear-cut political victory since his re-election. Basically the GOP wanted either an all-out repeal of ObamaCare or, as a fallback, a one-year delay of the individual mandate. By the end, they would have taken even less.

But Obama wouldn’t consider it. Instead, he played hardball with everything from national-park closures to, temporarily at least, denying death benefits to military families. As the debt ceiling loomed, the GOP relented. Conventional wisdom says Obama won, and I basically agree with the conventional wisdom.

Or at least I did. There’s something those of us scoring that bout didn’t know: The president desperately, urgently and indisputably needed to delay the rollout of ObamaCare.

This is not a matter open to fair-minded dispute, never mind partisan disagreement. Even the president and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius agree that the rollout of ObamaCare has been a “debacle” (Sebelius’ word). Revelations in the press and in congressional hearings show that the administration was warned prior to both the shutdown and the ObamaCare debut that HealthCare.gov was as ready to go live as a kid’s make-believe refrigerator-box submarine was ready to explore the ocean depths.

If Obama were a chess master — or even a fairly adept checkers novice — he would have known that when you’re not ready to do something incredibly important, it’s best to buy time. He could have traded a delay (Three months? Six months?) for some major budget concessions, maybe even lifting the sequester. Perhaps his base wouldn’t have liked it, but he could have easily spun the compromise as a necessity given how irrational and “extreme” the GOP was being.

Publicly he’d say he was paying a ransom to “kidnappers” and “hostage takers.” He’d denounce Republicans for delaying precious insurance coverage for sick kids and frail oldsters just to score partisan and ideological points.

But privately, the master strategist would be stroking his proverbial white cat while breathing a sigh of relief that he bought himself some time to fix his woefully mangled healthcare reform.

Obviously he wouldn’t want to delay ObamaCare. But that decision was out of his hands due to his administration’s incompetence. The only choice before him was whether he would get the blame for the delay or if the Republicans would.

Why Obama didn’t do this and why it didn’t occur to him are good questions. Hubris obviously played a role, as it does in nearly everything this White House does. But the best answer is he didn’t know how terrible things were over at Sebelius’ shop.

In other words, the chess master didn’t even know what pieces he had on the board, which is usually not something we associate with chess masters. It’s something we associate with people who don’t even know how to play the game.

http://nypost.com/2013/11/01/the-presidents-missed-opportunity/

The Know Nothing President-cy


About Jerry Frey

Born 1953. Vietnam Veteran. Graduated Ohio State 1980. Have 5 published books. In the Woods Before Dawn; Grandpa's Gone; Longstreet's Assault; Pioneer of Salvation; Three Quarter Cadillac
This entry was posted in Politics, What I Think and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*


− one = 4

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>