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Is There No One There to Advise the President?

August 11, 2011

Via @AmericnElephant

President Barack Obama is getting bad advice. If it were a matter of music, you would say that he has a tin ear. I’m not sure just what the phrase is here, but Mr. Obama seems utterly unconscious of the way some of his actions appear at a time when the nation is in dire economic peril.

The White House may not take the credit downgrade very seriously, but the people certainly do.

When several million of our citizens have been unemployed for over forty weeks, the president’s frequent assertion that jobs are his primary focus, as he then heads for the golf course, doesn’t sit well. You can scroll down to the Huffington Post’s example of “jobs, jobs, jobs;” “his primary focus:” “every waking moment” and the “pivot to jobs.” The president simply seems out-of-touch.

Richard Cohen, reliable Liberal at the Washington Post on Monday:
FDR was a Hudson River squire — down to his cigarette holder and cape. Nonetheless, he could connect to the less fortunate. Obama, in contrast, was raised in the great American muddle, not rich and not poor. Yet when the stock market fell more than 500 points last week and the image that night was of the president whooping it up at his birthday party, the juxtaposition — just bad timing, of course — seemed appropriate. He does not seem to care.

Liberal psychology professor Drew Westen in a long essay in the New York Times:
A second possibility is that he is simply not up to the task by virtue of his lack of experience and a character defect that might not have been so debilitating at some other time in history. Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president, having never run a business or a state; that he had a singularly unremarkable career as a law professor, publishing nothing in 12 years at the University of Chicago other than an autobiography; and that, before joining the United States Senate, he had voted “present” (instead of “yea” or “nay”) 130 times, sometimes dodging difficult issues.

Reliable Liberal columnist Dana Milbank at the Washington Post:
The economy crawls, the credit rating falls, the markets plunge, and a helicopter packed with U.S. special forces goes down in Afghanistan. Two thirds of Americans say the country is on the wrong track (and that was before the market swooned), Obama’s approval rating is 43 percent, and activists on his own side are calling him weak.

Yet Obama plods along, raising gobs of cash for his reelection bid — he was scheduled to speak at two DNC fundraisers Monday night — and varying little the words he reads from the teleprompter. He seemed detached even from those words Monday as he pivoted his head from side to side, proclaiming that “our problems is not confidence in our credit” and turning his bipartisan fiscal commission into a “biparticle.”

He reminded everyone that the default isn’t his fault; but his first thoughts were not for the Chinook crash and the agonizing loss of so many special forces, but for trying to avoid blame. “Mr. Cool Turns Cold” read the headline on Cohen’s piece. But there have long been examples of enormous insensitivity. It’s more than being out-of-touch.

Obama has consistently blamed George W. Bush for not only the financial crisis, but for the fact that his own presidency for two-and-a half-years has been hard. Victor Davis Hanson said it succinctly: “Most problems in the world preceded Bush.”

It’s not that we’re trying to point fingers to make sure Mr. Obama gets blamed for anything in particular, but isn’t there someone at the White House who can remind him that “this just doesn’t look good”, “You might want to look concerned here”, or simply “this is a very emotional issue for many people.” or “this big drop in the stock market hits a lot of ordinary people pretty hard, Mr. President.” Or aren’t aides allowed to say such things? Or are they just as clueless?

Well, the stock market tanked again, There are more riots in Europe, London is in flames, demonstrators shot in the Middle East, black youth flash mobs attacking innocent crowds and looting at the Wisconsin Fair and in Philadelphia. The nation’s credit rating has dropped and may drop again, and you don’t seem concerned, Mr. President. Only worried that you might be blamed, or that it might discourage donors to your campaign.

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