An "F"


The presidency of the United States is no place for a political neophyte, period. When I hear people singing the praises of individuals like Ross Perot, Sarah Palin, and Dr. Ben Carson, I recoil in disbelief. None of them has ever distinguished himself in politics, or has otherwise shown the kind of gifts required for success in high-level political office.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. When Dwight D. Eisenhower, a legendary military commander, ascended to the presidency, he submitted to Congress a precise budget, one, which he thought, was streamlined and contained no fat. Congress took a heavy hand to it, with the result that the president received only a portion of the funds he requested. If this five-star general turned statesman had understood the political game he was playing, he would have known that all budgets were cut and that he should have padded each and every item of his. Cutting presidential budget proposals was what Congress did best, and Eisenhower’s was no exception to the rule. Yet the realities of the political process defied the man, thwarting his honest and straightforward intentions. 

One who is elevated to the presidency must understand the mechanics of the endeavor in which he is involved. Being a towering captain of industry as was Herbert Hoover, a distinguished professor like Woodrow Wilson, or even a war hero, as Eisenhower was, does not necessarily fill the bill. This is not to suggest, however, that a strong competence in military matters, in disciplines such as history, law, and political theory, and in business cannot enhance a presidency. Indeed they can! 

The president should be knowledgeable regarding all policy matters, domestic and foreign. He should be able to engage experts on issues springing from vital areas such as the economy, currency, national debt, immigration, warfare, military preparedness, and international relations. He should be neither a pawn in the hands of his advisors, nor too easily malleable by their suggestions.  He should possess his own independent ideas and judgment concerning the issues before him. Whirling him about in his big black chair so that he becomes confused and disoriented can hardly be an option. Experts who have his ear should realize that the case they make will be closely questioned, scrutinized, and even vituperatively criticized at times.  

Knowledge is certainly the president’s stock, but it is not his trade. His challenge is to translate policy into fact, and that formidable step involves the art of politics. The chief executive of this nation must be a consummate political operator, intimately familiar with, as Lyndon Johnson was fond of saying, “the art of the possible.” He must be on a first name basis with the members of Congress and understand the pressures upon each in their respective districts or states. He must be no stranger to persuasion and “wire-pulling.” In fact, he must enjoy the nitty-gritty of power politics and of molding others to his will. He must recognize the vital importance of courting the approval of powerbrokers in both the House and the Senate and of their enjoying and feeling comfortable with him. The president must have the moxie to utilize his knowledge of the political process in order to cut through congressional logjams and bureaucratic red tape and to make what is dormant come to life. 

The leader of this nation must also act in accordance with its conscience.  G. K. Chesterton once commented that ours is “a nation with the soul of a church.”  When a national or international outrage occurs, the president’s responses must reflect the nation’s heart and soul. 

Finally, the nation’s military troops and its veterans must be convinced that the president loves the country as much as they do and is as dedicated to its well being as they are. They must view him as a patriot of the highest order and have no doubt that he will send them into harm’s way if, and only if, the gravest matters of national security require it. 

Now pause, take a deep breath, and consider the presidential tenure of Barack Obama. 

Congressional relations. Mr. Obama has demonstrated neither the desire nor the ability to work with the majority of the people’s representatives in the House. He has announced and publicized that he stands ready with his telephone and pen to take executive action by fiat if the House is disinclined to do his bidding. Not only is this stance needlessly defiant and ultimately self-defeating, but also its autocratic nature is not the way the Founders envisioned the system of separation of powers and checks and balances that they created.  By refusing to work closely with Republicans, Mr. Obama has forged inimical relations with them and has burned political bridges. 

His actions to relax enforcement of immigration laws and to release from prison thousands of convicted felons who are a threat to American society have undermined Congress. His numerous unilateral amendments to the Affordable Care Act have also preempted congressional power and discounted the members of that institution. His attorney general’s example and advice to states’ attorneys general that they not enforce laws respecting homosexuals sit poorly with conservative members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat, and is a conspicuous violation of the president’s executive duty to enforce the laws as written. 

His refusal fully to cooperate with Congress, by providing all information, facts, and documents relevant to the barbaric events in Benghazi, the loathsome actions of the IRS regarding Tea Party groups, and the misbegotten Fast and Furious project, have done little more than salt the wounds of Republicans and law-abiding Americans. 

Trust.  Mr. Obama’s deceit and equivocation about healthcare have eroded his trustworthiness at home. His readiness to reduce soldiers’ pensions and to balance the budget on their backs, and his tolerance of the shoddy treatment of wounded and disabled veterans by VA hospitals have further undercut the troops’ confidence in him. 

Foreign Policy. Mr. Obama’s “red line in the sand” in Syria has evoked ridicule abroad as well as humiliation at home. His support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and of rebel forces in Libya has served only to destabilize the Middle East. His responses to Russian aggression in Crimea and the Ukraine have been anemic and ineffectual at best. In summary, his foreign policy, as Charles Krauthammer put it, is “no policy" at all. 

Moral Outrage. The president's proclivity to lie to the American people is paralleled only by his failure to speak in behalf of the oppressed in Iran and against the persecution of Christians in countries dominated by Sharia law and Muslim barbarians. 

Barack Obama is a political amateur in every sense of the word, an unmitigated failure in office. His name should be another term for "foolish." He is a man who was catapulted to the presidency because he was glib and black.  God knows he had no additional qualification. He has little sympathy with or understanding of the nation, its traditions and heartstrings; no knowledge of economic or political theory; no clue how to work with anyone who disagrees with him; no tough and realistic foreign policy; no honesty; and no honor.  The man is a Promethean disgrace and disaster.  It remains to be seen the extent of the harm he will cause.

If there are significant lessons that Mr. Obama’s presidency teaches us, they are that America’s guilt and shame over the historical odyssey of black people in this country do not suffice for choosing a president and that America's democratic experiment is failing.

May 17, 2014