Presidential Politics: Cloudy With A Chance Of Tantrums
President Obama lectured several audiences this month about the need for civility in our political discourse. He pointed out that calling each other names just pushes us apart and kills bipartisanship. He sounded like Candidate Obama back on the campaign trail, trying to sell himself as The Great Unifier. Michigan Commencement Address.
Unfortunately, Obama has too much to learn about civility to be lecturing anyone. He clouds up and throws temper tantrums when things don’t go his way. Wall Street Bonuses. He points so many fingers of blame that he needs six or seven hands at the end of each arm. Obama’s Blamesmanship. He shamelessly distorts even recent events to rise above choppy political waters. Revision, Anyone? He mercilessly mocks those who disagree with him. Tea Party Attacks.
Even so, if his rudeness merely created a partisan divide, we could close it by changing the Politician In Chief. The real problem is that the ABC’s of Obama’s boorishness – anger, blame and contempt – are not just weapons in his political war games. They’re the substance of his governance. Which means he doesn’t govern at all, because posturing cannot substitute for leadership. But it can cause long-term damage.
The Gulf oil spill is a perfect example of Obama’s management vacuum. Just last Friday, the President got all riled up in the Rose Garden. He chastised the three companies directly involved in the mess for failing to take responsibility. He was quick to praise his own people for their “relentless” efforts to stop the leak. Earlier, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claimed the Administration’s response to the spill had been “comprehensive and fast”. Anger In The Rose Garden.
How about a sanity check? Rewind the Gulf spill reality reel to April 29, the tenth day of the disaster and the day before oil slimed the Louisiana coast. Previously, Janet Napolitano and Gibbs downplayed the spill as negligible and gauged its impact on future offshore drilling as practically zilch. The Administration’s primary response to the catastrophe had been the failed Coast Guard rescue operation for the 11 missing workers. So much for “comprehensive” action. In fact, Obama’s failure, for over ten days, to respond commensurate with the magnitude of the calamity would later be criticized across the political spectrum. New York Times; St. Petersburg Times.
On April 29, with oil about to contaminate U.S. shores, it was fish-or-cut-bait time. Better late than never for some real leadership. Instead, Gibbs and a gaggle of Administration officials, including Napolitano, played pin the blame on the BP donkey. A theme Obama has echoed many times despite an, as yet, unresolved investigation. They did outline a response to the disaster but it came off looking like a Three Stooges skit. And, like the Stooges, the Administration’s efforts have been ineffective. Politico; Associated Press; New York Post; YouTube.
Which is why Obama’s Rose Garden outrage last week was real. He can see the oil starting to lap the political shores of Washington D.C. I guess he means to stop it with his burning anger.
See you in the mirror.