Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Obama: the sprint versus the Medusa

"The Medusa" (Hat to P. P. Rubens)
The leadership shortfall we’ve witnessed during Obama’s yearlong health care march — typified by the missed deadlines, the foggy identification of his priorities, the sometimes abrupt shifts in political tone and strategy — won’t go away once the bill does. This weakness will remain unless and until the president himself corrects it.(...) The problem is not necessarily that Obama is trying to do too much, but that there is no consistent, clear message to unite all that he is trying to do. Frank Rich - New York Times
David Seaton's News Links
As President Obama stumbles and bumbles along to the dismay of so many of his supporters and even the puzzlement of many who voted against him... the question keeps popping up: if his campaign was so professional, so brilliant, so focused, why is his presidency apparently going nowhere?

At the heart of it all is something of great simplicity: being very good at one thing is no guarantee that you'll be much good at something totally different and running for president is nothing like being president. People who were so impressed by Barack Obama's campaign skills might do well to remember that his predecessor, the massively incompetent George W. Bush, was famous for his campaign skills too.

To illustrate this concept I have chosen two images; the first is of a group of sprinters hitting the tape in a hundred meter dash and the other images is of the Medusa. The Medusa was a mythical monster in the form of a woman whose head was covered with writhing snakes instead of hair and whose gaze was supposed to turn men into stone... I imagine that most readers have a fairly clear idea of what a hundred meter dash consists of.

Running for president is a race. Some of the characteristics of a race are: it goes a definite distance, with a beginning and an end and everybody runs in the same direction and when they cross the finish line the race is over and someone has "won"... The winner gets a gold medal or gets to live in the White House for four years or whatever.

Being president is not like that, its not a race, there is no finish line, people are running all different directions, many of them are not running anywhere, in fact they refuse to move at all, while others fly, crawl, bite and sting and even swim. The Medusa was as close to a "one stop shop" of this idea as I could get.

The tactics for winning a footrace are linear. Managing the complexities of a country like the United States are like giving the Medusa a blow dry hair cut.

Of course in the Medusa myth Perseus cut off the Medusa's head and used it as weapon, here the metaphor might break down a bit... or maybe not.

It is all about priorities.

If Obama had identified creating jobs as his first priority and instead of fattening the bankers at taxpayer's expense, had nationalized the bankrupt institutions in trouble and fired the management and had given the shareholders a haircut, broken the nationalized banks into units small enough to fail without bringing down the world around our ears and then funneled federally funded credit to Main Street, and finally sold the sanitized banks at a  profit, right now he might find himself with the American people solidly behind him, eating out of his hand; find himself holding the Medusa by the ears and blandishing her in the face of a thug like Netanyahu and watching him "turn to stone", instead of having him able to humiliate the weak and fumbling President of the United States with a few Jerusalem apartments.

It is all about priorities.DS

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Bush wasn’t incompetent. He accomplished a great deal. You may not like what he did, but he got stuff done. If Obama passes this alleged “health care reform” bill he’ll achieve that level of competence.

I rather like Bibi’s nerve. He thinks he was undercut by the previous Democratic administration and from day one he’s been determined to show the new boy who’s boss. He just dumped all over the Vice President of the United States, a man whose doglike devotion to Israel is a byword, and what happens? Biden shows up late to dinner. Netanyahu must be shaking in his shoes.