WSJ's Noonan: Obama Administration Lacks Basic Competency

Image: WSJ's Noonan: Obama Administration Lacks Basic Competency

Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013 04:42 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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There’s a pandemic in the Obama White House known as "West Wing disease," a malady defined by young staffers who grew up watching the fictional political drama now suffering a romantic but unrealistic sense of how government works, writes Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan,

"'The West Wing' was White House-centric," says Noonan. "It never took place at the Agriculture Department. But government takes place at the Agriculture Department."

Noonan skewers the administration for what she cites as a lack of basic competency "in performing the most fundamental duties of executive management."

"I have to say, I’ve never worried about this with any previous administration, ever," the veteran journalist writes.

The Obama White House has a "preoccupation with spin, with how things look as opposed to how they are."

"The odd thing still is that the White House never misses a speech, a list of talking points, an opportunity to shape the argument on TV," she notes. "They do the talking part, but the doing? They had 3½ years to make sure ObamaCare will work, three years to get it right top to bottom, to rejigger parts of the law that they finally judged wouldn’t work, to make the buying of a policy easy on the website. And they not only couldn’t do that, which itself constitutes an astounding and historic management failure, they make it clear they were taken aback by their failure."

While the Obamacare debacle represents an obvious example of ineptitude, according to Noonan, there are scads of other signs of "basic negligence," including failing to realize that a mentally ill con man was faking sign language at arm’s length from the commander in chief for 19 minutes at the Nelson Mandela memorial.

People on the inside regularly tell Noonan, off-the-record, that the White House is poorly run. Distrust in the administration’s abilities isn’t limited to conservatives. Even New York Democrats have given up on Obama.

"They are not thinking about what progress he might make in Washington next year, they’re talking about what Hillary might do the year after that," writes Noonan.

Obama and his team are more style than substance, with expertise in communicating an idea, not executing it, according to Noonan.

"… It’s a good talent but not one that will in itself force a government to work well."

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