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President Barack Obama’s seemingly hands-off management style is raising fresh questions and concerns that could upend his second-term legacy.
Claims by the administration and other Democrats that Obama didn’t know about sensitive matters in his own administration -- such as problems with the health care website and revelations of National Security Agency surveillance on foreign leaders -- have many in Washington scratching their heads.
It all fits as part of a pattern. Who is in control? Who is running things? There are a lot of questions,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who helps conduct the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which Wednesday showed Obama’s approval rating dropping to an all-time low.
I have written previously about the president's demagoguery; he has often chosen inflammatory and divisive rhetoric over being a leader of the whole nation. He has operated in campaign mode throughout his presidency instead of focusing on bringing the nation together to work together on our financial, economic, and other problems. Not only are we a nation more divided than ever, as former Vice President Dick Cheney said, "Our allies no longer trust the U.S., our enemies don't fear us." In a stinging indictment of the president's leadership, Dennis Prager declared that the "United States is at its weakest, has fewer allies, and has less military and diplomatic influence than at any time since before World War I." All of that can be laid at the president's feet and finally a few brave investigative reporters (national and international) are holding him accountable for his failed policies, stunning arrogance and betrayal of the American Constitution. When a president's egregious actions yield a deterioration of conditions to the degree we face today, it is time for that leader who has
Only now -- five years into his presidency -- are we seeing some cracks in the protective shield surrounding President Obama, and then only after the abuse of reporters' privacy has been threatened. Mainstream journalists have not scrutinized his controversial policies, nor have they held him accountable for questionable actions that have caused outrage among fair-minded critics and produced irreparable harm to the nation.
Strange Goings-On at the White House
The recent spate of Washington scandals has some liberals finally confessing in public what many of them have said privately for a long time. The Obama administration is arrogant, insular, prone to intimidation of adversaries, and slovenly when it comes to seeing that rules are followed. Indeed, the Obama White House is a strange place, and it’s good that its operational model is now likely to be finally dissected by the media.
Joe Klein of Time magazine laments Obama’s “unwillingness to concentrate.”
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post tars him as a President Passerby who “seems to want no control over the actions of his administration.” Milbank warns that “he’s creating a power vacuum in which lower officials behave as though anything goes.” Comedian Jon Stewart says Obama’s government lacks real “managerial competence” and that the president is either Nixonian if he knew about the scandals in advance or a Mr. Magoo–style incompetent if he didn’t.
But it was Chris Matthews of MSNBC who cut even deeper in his Hardball show on Wednesday. A former speechwriter for President Carter, he wondered if Obama “really doesn’t want to be responsible day-to-day for running” the government. He savaged the White House for using “weird, spooky language” about “the building leadership” that must approve the Benghazi talking points. “I don’t understand the model of this administration: weak chiefs of staff afraid of other people in the White House. Some undisclosed role for Valerie Jarrett. Unclear, a lot of floating power in the White House, but no clear line of authority. I’ve talked to people who’ve been chief of staff. They were never allowed to fire anybody, so they weren’t really chief of staff.” He concluded that President Obama “obviously likes giving speeches more than he does running the executive branch.”
So if Obama is not fully engaged, who does wield influence in the White House? A lot of Democrats know firsthand that Jarrett, a Chicago mentor to both Barack and Michelle Obama and now officially a senior White House adviser, has enormous influence. She is the only White House staffer in anyone’s memory, other than the chief of staff or national security adviser, to have an around-the-clock Secret Service detail of up to six agents. According to terrorism expert Richard Miniter’s recent book, Leading from Behind: “At the urging of Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama canceled the operation to kill Osama bin Laden on three separate occasions before finally approving” the mission for May 2, 2011. She was instrumental in overriding then–chief of staff Rahm Emanuel when he opposed the Obamacare push, and she was key in steamrolling the bill to passage in 2010. Obama may rue the day, as its chaotic implementation could become the biggest political liability Democrats will face in next year’s midterm elections.