In his most recent State of the Union Address President Obama promised that he would “make this a year of action.” But with the year nearly halfway over the White House has many scandals and few accomplishments to its name.
Predictably, many on the Left have rushed to his aid. Ezra Klein, for instance, wrote a piece last week arguing that the “Green Lantern Theory” of the Presidency—which holds that the president can accomplish anything if only he believes in his power and tries with all his might—is flawed.
“Basically, it denies the very real (and very important) limits on the power of the American presidency,” Klein writes, “as well as reduces Congress to a coquettish collection of passive actions who are mostly just playing hard to get.”
Of course this is a straw man. As Ron Fournier responded to Klein, “Nobody expects the president to be a superhero. Most of us would settle for one who is effective, engaged, empathetic, and transparent about how he or she conducts the people’s business. Simple, not super.”
Fournier is exactly right – the American people are smarter than Klein, and many liberals like him, wants to let on. We understand that the parties are polarized, that the Founders intended for a separation of powers, and that Congress is divided. What we don’t understand is why that means we must settle for an administration that exemplifies such a dearth of leadership that they learn of internal crises the same way we do – news reports, and that displays so little accountability that calling for a hearing is its go-to strategy.
Of course, President Obama himself contributed to the problem by exuding a confidence bordering on cockiness and a penchant for promises he couldn’t keep.
“I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” he told his campaign staff. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m a better political director than my political director.”
Given the high opinion of himself it doesn’t come as a surprise that he promised to heal the oceans, provide health care for all, and unite a fractured country.
But when faced with the challenges inherent to the presidency, Obama hasn’t always seemed up to them. The divide between promise and reality is causing some Democrats to grow frustrated. Arnie Parnes reports for The Hill:
Top Democratic donors say they are exasperated by a lack of leadership from the White House on policy and are questioning whether they should throw money into midterm elections they believe won’t change Washington.
In interviews with The Hill, the donors, who have been staunch Obama supporters since 2008, showed a frustration with the constant Beltway gridlock.
As some look to the promise of a 2016 presidential bid by Hillary Clinton, they express weariness with a White House that continually asks for money but has been unable to move anything in Washington since President Obama’s reelection.
The White House must be feeling the heat because they are now promising big changes. The Associated Press reports:
Burned by the failed rollout of his health care law, President Barack Obama is seeking to build a team for the final years of his administration where management expertise may trump keen political or legislative skills.
Gone from the White House are nearly all the high-profile political gurus who ran Obama’s two presidential campaigns. In their place are mostly lesser-known figures who have spent years in government, often in the type of policy implementation jobs that only make the news when something goes wrong.
Okay, hiring bureaucrats over brainiacs may not be the “big change” that is going to change the course of this presidency. And it’s certainly not going to turn this suddenly into a “year of action.” But at least it’s something, right?