My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


The Obama Learning Curve and W 

I have written before that the beginning of the end for George W. Bush's presidency was Hurricane Katrina. This is nothing earth-shattering--I'm one of only about 40 million pundits who shared that opinion. But I thought it was about more than just failure to protect Americans, which was the dominant opinion. I thought there was a lot of it that could be attributed to the overall sense of incompetence that attached itself to the administration in both the actual handling of that disaster and the public relations effort that followed.

It took the Bush administration about 6 years to get to that point; Obama must be a lot smarter than Bush because he's already reached that point.

I think, in general, there are four different sentiments that the general public reaches about politicians: competent but wrong, competent and right, incompetent but right, and incompetent and wrong. The President is very close to falling towards that last category.

Look at how he's handled the last three major events that he's been dealt. Fort Hood, the Christmas bomber, and the Haiti earthquake have all landed in his lap through absolutely no choosing of his own. And in each case he has completely missed the oopportunity to serve a function that Americans look to the President for: comforter in chief. His response to Ft. Hood was wooden and highlit a pathological unwillingness to call a spade a spade; the Christmas bomber led to a comedy of errors from a team that seems like it's in WAY over its head; and now Haiti has found a ridiculously slow response (if the airport is down, why can't we airlift a few battalions of Marines in and follow that with C-130 after C-130 of supply drops?) that does nothing to inspire confidence.

At the beginning of his term, 40% of the electorate thought he was wrong but were scared about how competent he seemed to be; 45% of the electorate thought he was right and didn't care if he was competent or not; 15% of the electorate were simply relieved that the old was out and hoped that Obama could just manage competence. Now, I would say, there are still the diehard 25% who think he's right and don't care about competence; he's got his hard left 10% who think he's right but don't think he's competent; he's got now 45%-50% of the country who think he's wrong and are troubled that "competence", esp. vis-a-vis health care, rally means "arrogance;" and that leaves about 15% who are not particularly ideological but concerned that the President and his team are hyper-ideological and/or completely out of their depth. That makes for a very difficult political situation.

But worse for the country, every hard-bought victory for the Democrats leads to a heightened distrust of government. And, sadly, since the Republicans have so far proven ineffective, the country won't turn to them but will, instead, simply turn away from everybody.

A somewhat dangerous place for the country to be. Anybody who doesn't think its possible for this country to disintigrate is just naive.

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