Saturday, January 23, 2010

Experience Matters

One of the lessons of the Obama disaster (a term describing the collapse of Obama's popularity and support for his agenda) is that presidents need experience. Obama's complete lack of experience with executive authority (running a political campaign doesn't count) and dealing with Congress has to be cited as one of the main reasons his presidency is running aground.

Even George Bush managed to keep his presidency viable longer than Barrack Obama. Obama is now a political foil much as Bush became one in his second term. Obama is only in his second year and no longer seems to capture anyone's imagination but his enenmies. Even his erstwhile friends, Howard Dean and Maureen Dowd for example, have jumped ship. Obama is under attack from all wings of the Democratic Party and rightly so. He has put House and Senate Democrats on record supporting one of the most unpopular pieces of legislation in American political history, and for all price that they will pay for that support, the infamous health care legislation is now dead in the water.

Experience would have taught Obama the value of bi-partisan approaches to major issues. Lack of experience led him to naively believe he could ignore the other political party. Lack of experience led him to believe that details don't matter. Whatever health care bill emerged, he was ready to support -- regardless of content. The perils of that approach would have been obvious to an executive with experience. Experience would have informed other decisions such as the handling of the Christmas Day terror incident. Every aspect of the handling of that episode exhibits naivete and incompetence.

Experience would have pushed the President to recognize which issues should be front and center. To completely neglect a faltering economy and let it slide into the worst recession since the 1930s is something no person of experience would have done. Even now, Obama seems blissfully unaware of the difficult economic plight of average Americans. He certainly has no adult experience with economic difficulty and probably doesn't known anyone who has. He knows no struggling business folks. His acquaintances are mostly wealthy and famous. The recession really isn't a priority to these folks. But, a person of experience would look past these folks into the heartland of American and see the difficulties that people are facing every day. Such a person would move toward policies to help folks not hurt them. Obama's lack of experience blinds him to the simple recognition of the desparate situation faced by many Americans. That's not a world he really knows or wants to know.

At this point, the public has a pretty good sense that the Obama Administration is in a state of chaos. The recent attacks on Wall Street don't fool anyone and won't fool voters. Someone with experience would eat a little humble pie. Not this guy. He's never wrong. According to Obama, Massachusetts voters voted for Scott Brown because they were mad at George Bush. I'm not sure which is worse -- believing nonsense like that or letting the public hear you say nonsense like that. A person with experience would have done neither.

So, our President is doing some on-the-job learning. So far, his reactions to Massachusetts are visceral and wrong headed. Maybe between now and Wednesday night's State of the Union address he will find it in his heart and in his head to address the economic problems that most Americans are confronting every day.