President Barack Obama has reached his ‘moment of truth’ over the spiraling national debt and is running out of time to demonstrate strong leadership on critical issues, MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough tells Newsmax.
Republicans have voiced increasing criticism of President Obama’s decisiveness and executive leadership, ever since his State of the Union address.
When Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan recently laid out an elaborate entitlement reform to slash some $6 trillion from federal spending, the White House appeared to be caught off guard.
The White House blasted Ryan’s plan for failing the test of fairness. But the media widely credited Ryan for presenting a framework to address the nation’s growing fiscal crisis.
As pressure grew for a Democratic response, the White House announced that President Obama would unveil his own budget reform recommendations, which he did to mixed reviews in a speech Wednesday afternoon.
In an exclusive interview, Scarborough, the popular former GOP congressman from Florida, told Newsmax that even the president’s closest supporters have told him not to expect Obama’s leadership style to change.
“Put ideology aside,” Scarborough told Newsmax. “If he were a Republican president who was a small-government conservative like me, I would still say he’s one of the weakest leaders to sit in the Oval Office in my lifetime.”
Scarborough said that Obama has repeatedly “allows himself to be shaped by events,” and contrasted him with President Ronald Reagan, who at the outset of his administration stated his goal was to cut taxes and strengthen national defense to defeat the Soviet Union – and then proceeded to do precisely that.
Scarborough, who was part of the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress that ultimately worked with President Bill Clinton to balance the budget, said in the interview conducted last week that even the oft-criticized President Jimmy Carter has been more decisive than President Obama.
“Jimmy Carter did things, I didn’t agree with his decisions, but at least he would step out and make decisions,” Scarborough told Newsmax. “Barack Obama doesn’t do that. And once again on the deficit we have him deferring and letting events shape him.”
Scarborough, a small-government conservative, noted that in the first week of his presidency Obama said the single most important issue facing the United States was the need to shore up Social Security.
“So after he passed the largest spending bill in the history of the United States,” Scarborough told Newsmax, “he decided it would be good politics to have a fiscal responsibility conference at the White House, which was a laughable concept after the stimulus package.
“He calls Democrats and Republicans over, but Nancy Pelosi tells him before hand that Social Security has to be off the table, and he’s not allowed to talk about it at the conference. So guess what? Barack Obama doesn’t talk about it at the conference.”
Scarborough cited other worrisome signs that could indicate Obama has leadership issues:
• The president’s “closest friends out of Chicago” who helped Obama win the presidency have been “wringing their hands.” Scarborough said they privately have told him: “‘This is a guy, after all, who voted present a hundred times when he was in the state legislature, even on issues like abortion."
• Scarborough said Obama “completely turned over” the design of the stimulus bill to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, adding: “And it was disastrous. What we ended up with was a hodgepodge collection of pork barrel bills that couldn’t have been passed standing alone, the largest U.S. spending bill in U.S. history, and a bill that not a single congressman or senator read before it passed. So obviously, obviously, it was doomed to fail from the very beginning. And we wasted about a trillion dollars because he did not want to take the leadership role there.”
• He said President Obama did not want the House to take up a cap-and-trade bill for fear it would slow down his healthcare reform agenda, but Pelosi “forced him” to push the measure. Obama’s lack of commitment on whether he supported a public option during the healthcare-reform debate, Scarborough said, “was surreal.” He added: “For a year, we asked Democrats on the set of Morning Joe ‘Do you support Obama’s healthcare plan?’ And for a year they laughed at us and said, ‘Well, the second you figure out what Obama’s healthcare plan is, let me know.’”
• He called Obama’s decision to double-down on more troops in Afghanistan a “horrible mistake.” said Scarborough: “He deferred to generals that didn’t give him an endgame, that basically said ‘We’re going to need to stay in Afghanistan, an unwinnable war, for another decade.’ So here we are spending $2 billion a week, and we’re no closer to having an end-game in sight than we were when he came into office and decided to shift this operation from an anti-terrorist operation to an anti-insurgency operation, which means we are back in the business of nation building.”
Scarborough told Newsmax that Obama’s hesitancy to take the lead does not necessarily amount to a character flaw.
“I’m just saying there’s not a corporation in America that would thrive with this sort of leadership that constantly defers to other people and sits back afraid to take action,” said the Morning Joe host.
Scarborough added: “And who knows? Maybe everything will magically work out after four years or eight years, and this will be a new model for executive management. But I don’t think so.”
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