Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Curse of Competency

It's not really a condemnation, more of a sad truth, but Barak Obam looks more and more like Jimmy Carter every day. Carter may have been the best president we had in terms of actually running the country and doing stuff in the last forty years. He was engaged, competent, intelligent, thoughtful, and he got things done. He was dealt a terrible hand and he never connected with the American People, so they kicked him out in favor of a cowboy who was disengaged, not particularly competent, but was great on camera and looked good in a crisis. Carter was destroyed by the Iran hostage crisis. I often tell my students that they have no idea what the hostage crisis was like. It was on TV every night for 444 days. It dominated the news. There was no other story. The people wanted action--action movie James Bond type of action. They wanted a president who was a hero, and instead they got a president who was a thinker. It was actually probably better to have Carter in that situation than Ford or Regan, but when he deliberated all most people saw was a weak-willed liberal who couldn't get anything done. If they had sent more helicopters to the desert,or if the Navy hadn't washed the Army helicopters with sea-water, Regan might never have been president. But the rescue failed and we have been in this mess ever since.

And now we have Barak Obama. I think he's a great president. He has advanced the most far reaching progressive agenda since LBJ. He has enacted health care reform, new financial regulations, and launched a stimulus package that helped save the economy. Thank God he is our president right now. And honestly, I don't think he can do any more about the BP oil rig than he is already doing. But it is going on forever, and he is not connecting with the people, and that could spell his doom.

I think the democrats will do better in the mid-terms than people think they will. The republicans have been nominating some total whackos in the Sarah Palin mold, and I still say all the Democrats have to do is show those tapes of the republicans chanting "Drill, baby drill!" over and over again and they will do just fine. Add to that that they have found an effective formula for attacking, linking them to outsourcing of jobs, and I think the Dems will do fine.

But Obama is looking more and more like a one-term president. If Sarah Palin gets the nomination he will win, but if it's someone in the Mitt Romeny mold he is probably headed for the lecture circuit.


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