“…Why is Mr. Obama not leading the way to a solution? From the start, and increasingly in his second term, Mr. Obama has presented entitlement reform as something he would do grudgingly, as a favor to the opposition, when he should be explaining to the American people — and to his party — why it is an urgent national need.”
—–The Washington Post’s editors, in a spot-on editorial splitting the blame for what it correctly calls the “stupid” sequester fight equally between Congressional Republicans and the President, but pointing out the President Obama, because he is President, will be accountable for his failure to lead on the issue.
Good for the Post. I began a draft of a very similar article, and abandoned it because I have expressed my harsh assessment of President Obama’s leadership style and skills too many times here to be regarded as objective on the topic. There is nothing in the editorial I disagree with. This President’s concept of leadership has been to order the opposition to do what he wants, orchestrate deceitful PR battles about the horrible consequences that will occur if his edict was not followed, and then to seek partisan advantage by casting all blame on his opponents when his preferred approach was rejected. His acolytes and enablers in the media have allowed him to continue this pattern: to its credit, the Washington Post has been a notable exception, particularly regarding Libya, Syria, and Iran, but also previous budget battles.
President Obama’s handling of the sequester might be his worst leadership botch yet. First he proposed the sequester. He made no effort to make resolving the issue a priority prior to the election, but falsely claimed in the third debate with Mitt Romney that it was not his idea, and that he did not propose it. Later, he stated as a fact, that the sequester would not occur, a commitment that he would not allow it to occur. After the election, he allowed the sequester can to be kicked down the road again, and promptly ignored it, launching a cynical gun control initiative sparked by the opportunity created by a school massacre, and the difficult illegal immigration reform effort. He sent his Chief of Staff, now Treasury Secretary, out to dissemble on the facts, as documented in the Post by investigative reporter Bob Woodward. As the days ticked down, he took a vacation, and now is hyping the terrors of the looming meat ax budget cuts as shamelessly as the Bush Administration hyped the likelihood of WMD’s in Iraq. (A President who allowed some of the consequences Obama has been warning about to take place would have to be impeached for dereliction of duty.) His position is similar to that of a parent who intentionally gives his child to kidnappers to be held hostage, refuses to negotiate, and claims that he has no responsibility for the child’s fate. As the Post suggests, it does not bode well for his willingness or ability to take serious and politically risky steps to address the debt crisis.
There are bargaining chips all over the table, including immigration and gun control, if there was a leader—a Johnson, a Reagan, a Clinton—with the skills, flexibility, and inclination to use them. I have not seen any indication, in four years, that President Obama is such a leader.
Let’s hope the tough exhortations of a staunch media ally changes that.
Source: Washington Post