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The incredible shrinking President Hour by hour he gets smaller and smaller
NY Daily News ^ | June 7, 2014 | Walter Russell Mead

Posted on 06/08/2014 8:12:08 PM PDT by neverdem

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Less than two years after voters gave President Barack Obama a strong mandate for a second term, the White House is struggling against perceptions that it is losing its grip.

At home, the bungled rollout of the Obamacare website and the shocking revelations about an entrenched culture of incompetence and fraud in the VA have undercut faith in the President’s managerial competency.

Abroad, a surging Russia, an aggressive China, a war torn Middle East and a resurgent terror network are putting his foreign policy credentials to the test. With the GOP hoping to seize control of the Senate in November’s midterm elections, and the inevitable decline in presidential power that occurs as second term presidents move toward lame-duck status, Obama risks being sidelined and marginalized for the remaining two years of his term.

Last week’s tempest over the Bergdahl exchange seemed to roll all the President’s troubles together into a single storm. The decision to free five Taliban fighters from Guantanamo in exchange for an American soldier with a complicated past energized the President’s opponents, befuddled and angered important Congressional allies, and renewed questions about the political instincts of the President and his closest aides. The White House apparently thought that the release would be a moment of national unity and celebration and arranged for Sgt. Bergdahl’s parents to meet Obama in a highly publicized Rose Garden ceremony that now looks like a huge political blunder.

It’s been a long and bumpy road to this point. Few American presidents came into office viewed with so much optimism and hope. Obama was swept and re-swept into office with a clear expectation that being smart — or at least not being stupid — would be enough to mend fences around the globe and at home. Things aren’t so cheery now, and not being George W. Bush may not, it appears, be sufficient.

Obama is not, however, prepared to pick up his toys and go home. Stymied in Congress, where a coalition of Republicans and red state Democrats have effectively blocked his major initiatives in both the House and the Senate, the President is determined to use his executive powers to carve out a legacy whether Congress likes it or not. The new EPA regulations to cut CO2 levels from power generators and his decision to sidestep Congress on the release of five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo in exchange for Sergeant Bergdahl show a White House anything but resigned to the prospect of presidential decline.

In both foreign and domestic affairs, Obama has plenty of executive authority to use. Moreover, the signature accomplishment of his first term, the ACA health care law, is potentially the most significant piece of domestic legislation since the 1960s and was written to give the executive branch the power to redesign much of the American health system as the President’s appointees in the federal bureaucracy set about implementing the law. The Dodd-Frank Act, intended to stabilize Wall Street and prevent another 2008 style financial crisis, gave the executive branch broad authority to re-regulate the financial sector.

Why, then, does a feisty President with more power than any of his peacetime predecessors, one who is determined to use those powers to the max, look so much a victim of events he can’t control?

It isn’t for lack of ambition; Obama aspires to be a transformational leader at home and abroad. The ACA attempts to redesign an industry that accounts for 17.2 % of GDP. The EPA’s new regulations cover 66% of the country’s energy production. Overseas, he’s picked goals like getting a global climate treaty, destroying Al-Qaeda, democratizing the Arab world, eliminating nuclear weapons and achieving détente with Iran.

These are big goals; achieving them would give Obama a significant place in the history books. But there’s a catch; large and complex projects are hard to carry out, and the President seems to consistently underestimate the difficulties in turning compelling visions into practical programs. As a result, he now finds himself haunted by goals and expectations he set for himself, caught in a gap between promise and performance that has proved unexpectedly hard to close.

The implementation of the ACA was problematic in ways that go far beyond the famously awful website. While a substantial number of people have gotten access to health insurance thanks to the law, the implementation challenges remain epic — and the public still isn’t fully behind the new system. Many of the law’s provisions have already been suspended, amended, and reinterpreted so many times that it is now probable the President will leave office without being able to roll the whole law out as projected. Even government accountants have given up figuring out what the law means or how it will work: this week, the CBO stated that it was henceforth impossible to score Obamacare.

Meanwhile, the problems at the Veterans Administration — problems candidate Obama vowed to fix back in 2008 — erupted last month in a scandal that 79% of Americans blame at least in part on Obama’s management. A shock poll in The Washington Post showed 48% of Americans now think that President George W. Bush was better at “getting things done” than his replacement-compared with 42% who think the opposite.

Meanwhile, President’s Obama’s repeated calls for gun control legislation and immigration reform have fallen flat.

Overseas, the gap between promise and accomplishment is, if anything, more daunting. Early in his first term Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in a decision that struck even his most ardent admirers as premature; there isn’t much talk today of a repeat visit to Oslo.

Not since the end of the Cold War has an American president faced this much disorder and trouble in the world. The “reset” with Russia ended with the attack on Crimea. The Arab Spring has foundered in chaos, dictatorship and war. The President’s declaration that “Assad must go” has proved as hollow as his demand that Syria cease chemical warfare attacks on its citizens. Al-Qaeda and related jihadist groups are active and growing from West Africa through Central Asia; in some ways the terror threat today is greater than ever before. The war in Afghanistan, a war that candidate Obama vowed to win, is sputtering inconclusively toward a less than stellar close. An increasingly feisty China is challenging the United States and its allies, and North Korea grinds grimly ahead with its nuclear program.

Once again, the President seems to have underestimated how much effort would be required to achieve the goals he set out. He clearly underestimated the difficulties of building a stable and businesslike relationship with Russia and was shocked and surprised at Putin’s attack on Ukraine. He underestimated the difficulty of getting the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace agreement, overestimated the strength of the democratic forces in Egypt, and seems not to have fully understood the difficulties in winning the Afghan war until after he committed American troops to a surge. His administration has also seriously underestimated China’s readiness to oppose American policy in the Pacific; the South and East China seas are becoming more dangerous and more militarized by the day.

With 30 months to go, Obama still may have a chance to regain control of both the domestic and international agendas, but to do that he’s going to have to change his approach. He needs to focus on the nitty-gritty, day-to-day business of governing; six years into his administration, the public is fed up with promises and hungry for concrete accomplishments.

President Obama needs to show that he knows how to get things done, or increasingly the world will move on as if he wasn’t there.

Mead  is the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Policy and the Humanities at Bard College, and edits the American Interest Online. Follow him on Twitter @WRMEAD


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: obama; obamaepicfail
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1 posted on 06/08/2014 8:12:08 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Ok, I call BS on the very first sentence.

The voters did NOT give him a strong mandate for a 2nd term.

He won re-election with a smaller percentage of the vote than he won his first election by.

The margin in the electoral college was smaller too, in 2012 than in 2008.

He was a rare presidential re-election in which the candidate lost support between his first and second elections.

Even Bush, who won two very close elections, gained support in his re-election, compared to his first election.

Ok, will keep reading some more now.........


2 posted on 06/08/2014 8:14:16 PM PDT by Dilbert San Diego (et o)
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To: neverdem

He needs someone in this country to give him the Wyatt Earp treatment. Unfortunately the only one doing it is Putin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26kXGVolzLQ


3 posted on 06/08/2014 8:17:58 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin.)
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To: neverdem

***Hour by hour he gets smaller and smaller ***

Same with Jimmy Carter. In his last two years, cartoonists began to draw him smaller and smaller.


4 posted on 06/08/2014 8:20:11 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need more than seven rounds, Much more.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

I just wish he would follow his dream, return to Indonesia, and become a ladyboy prostitute.


5 posted on 06/08/2014 8:24:02 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin.)
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To: neverdem

He is now making no attempt to conceal his contempt for America and all it represents. God Save the Republic!


6 posted on 06/08/2014 8:25:15 PM PDT by Don Corleone ("Oil the gun..eat the cannoli. Take it to the Mattress.")
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To: neverdem

Way past time to flush this arrogant turd.


7 posted on 06/08/2014 8:25:35 PM PDT by beethovenfan (If Islam is the solution, the "problem" must be freedom.)
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To: neverdem
With 30 months to go, Obama still may have a chance to regain control of both the domestic and international agendas,

No way. Why would he be able to change the scandal pattern he has had since Day One?

Most people think the scandals just started a year or so ago. But that's because they weren't in on Michelle's SpainGate, Copenhagen and the Olympics, the overturning of leaders in Libya and Egypt the Beer Summit, etc. etc. etc. since the media didn't report those widely. I think the change in reporting began with the "red line" of Syria. The media took more notice.

Obama's governing style is to create scandal after scandal and that will continue. The difference is that now the public is paying more attention so it's possible people will begin to see who Obama really is.

8 posted on 06/08/2014 8:26:16 PM PDT by what's up
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To: neverdem
Less than two years after voters gave President Barack Obama a strong mandate for a second term

One of the axioms of media bias is to reverse statements such as this to see if the converse makes more sense. Thus:

"Less than two years after voters once again told the Republican Party that their Presidential candidates need to be actual conservatives..."

The prosecution rests.

9 posted on 06/08/2014 8:27:51 PM PDT by Colonel_Flagg ("Compromise" means you've already decided you lost.)
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To: neverdem

Really good article. Thanks for posting.


10 posted on 06/08/2014 8:34:13 PM PDT by leapfrog0202 ("the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of personal discovery" Sarah Palin)
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To: neverdem

Damned shame the nipplehead American people ever gave him a second chance.

We bear a lot of that blame, by NOT voting.

We could have stopped a lot of this, if we could have gotten aligned.

Damn the GOP, they are setting us up for failure again.
Then they go smoke cigars and drink cognac with the libs, pat each other on the back in private clubs and congratulate one another.

“Boy we sure put one over on the rubes”

THROW THE BUMS OUT!! *but pick your battles*


11 posted on 06/08/2014 8:34:55 PM PDT by mylife (The roar of the masses could be farts)
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To: neverdem

Oh? There was a time when Obama had managerial competency? - and that was acquired at - um, where? Baskin Robbins? Got it - awesome, yo.


12 posted on 06/08/2014 8:38:26 PM PDT by atc23 (The Confederacy was the single greatest conservative resistance to federal authority everac)
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To: what's up
Obama's governing style is to create scandal after scandal

Right out of the Alinsky play book.

Never let a crisis go to waste, and never forget to create the crisis, with plausible deniabilty.

13 posted on 06/08/2014 8:39:28 PM PDT by mylife (The roar of the masses could be farts)
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To: neverdem

Note to the American people: do not elect another narcissist sociopath as President. Obama is demonstrating that they are completely incapable of executing the duties of the office.


14 posted on 06/08/2014 8:43:04 PM PDT by centurion316
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To: Dilbert San Diego

“Less than two years after voters gave President Barack Obama a strong mandate for a second term...”

He won by fewer votes. These people are amazing.


15 posted on 06/08/2014 8:43:30 PM PDT by Luke21
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To: neverdem

>Hour by hour he gets smaller and smaller<

.
No, he is just shedding his masks — what you see today is what he has always been.


16 posted on 06/08/2014 8:46:49 PM PDT by 353FMG
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To: neverdem

17 posted on 06/08/2014 8:47:01 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lost my tagline on Flight MH370. Sorry for the inconvenience.)
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Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.

From the forward to "Rules for radicals" by Saul Alinsky

18 posted on 06/08/2014 8:47:02 PM PDT by mylife (The roar of the masses could be farts)
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To: Luke21

And are we certain there wasn’t vote fraud to get him over th top with those?


19 posted on 06/08/2014 8:47:05 PM PDT by No!
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To: neverdem

The NY Daily News punts pretty much to the left so overall it’s a cave-in...


20 posted on 06/08/2014 8:50:56 PM PDT by bronxville (Margaret Sanger - “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,)
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