Dr. Jill is having a difficult month. I almost put her latest post-breakfast taco remarks under the “Unethical Quote” heading, but her infuriating comments during a private Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Nantucket, Massachusetts qualify as more ignorant and incompetent than anything else.
Attempting to defend her husband’s miserable performance as President over the past 18 months and to rebut the public’s overwhelmingly negative assessment of his Presidency so far, the First Lady whined—and yes, that is a fair characterization—
“[The President] had so many hopes and plans for things he wanted to do, but every time you turned around, he had to address the problems of the moment…He’s just had so many things thrown his way. Who would have ever thought about what happened [with the Supreme Court overturning] Roe v Wade? Well, maybe we saw it coming, but still we didn’t believe it. The gun violence in this country is absolutely appalling. We didn’t see the war in Ukraine coming.”
Awww, poor Joe! He’s had to deal with the same challenge as every other President since the beginning of the Republic! Damn! It’s just one thing after another! Who could have predicted it?
Well, anybody who picked up an American history book, actually. (Jill’s a teacher?) Abe Lincoln didn’t expect to have to deal with a civil war from the second he was inaugurated. President Madison didn’t expect the British to burn the White House after he became President. McKinley didn’t see the Spanish-American War coming, or, for that matter, his own assassination. Garfield and Kennedy also didn’t expect to be shot: that really disturbed their plans (Reagan’s plans were disrupted quite a bit by getting shot too.) Before having his forehead blown off, JFK’s plans were disrupted by little surprises like the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile Crisis. His successor, Lyndon Johnson, never dreamed that the somnolent campuses of the Fifties would erupt in fury over the Vietnam War. Then there was President Harding’s term cut short by sudden death, President Hoover’s aspirations crushed by a stock market crash that made him the most hated man in America, Franklin Roosevelt’s plans being disrupted by Pearl Harbor, Jimmy Carter’s agenda being derailed by an embassy staff being held hostage, and George W. Bush’s hopes being derailed by four hijacked planes turned into flying bombs.
And wasn’t there something that turned the administration of Joe’s predecessor topsy-turvy when he was poised to cruise to re-election? Huh. It’s right on the tip of my tongue. Something to do with the first pandemic in a hundred years…well, it will come to me.
Dr. Jill’s whining about the unfairness of her husband having to to do the job he had the hubris to seek and as he promise the American people he was capable of doing it well is offensive and, to be blunt, stupid. I’m trying to decide if it is more or less outrageous than the flood of “The Presidency is just too hard now for anyone” op-eds the President Obama suck-up media resorted to as his administration foundered.
The effective, qualified, bold and skilled Presidents have handled the unforeseen challenges that came their way, because that’s what strong leadership is and what real leaders do. It isn’t just the First Lady who has embraced excuses for her husband’s flop; the President himself has refused to accept responsibility for the failure of his policies and agenda, blaming Trump, Putin, Republicans, corporations, the news media, the Supreme Court and Joe Manshin, among others. Meanwhile, he hasn’t fired a single cabinet member or key staffer: one would think he had the Dream Team. Accountability? What accountability?
Unwisely, both the President and his wife have chosen to disregard another favorite Harry Truman maxim, one that he kept on his desk in the Oval Office: