President Barack Obama won election on his promise of change, and his first 100 days have accomplished that in more ways than one. Not only is he planning to boost federal spending 25 percent while nearly tripling the national debt, he has transformed the job of president itself.
The president is often referred to as the chief executive officer, meaning he devises and implements policies. But having never actually run anything beyond his own campaign, Obama apparently sees himself as someone who articulates goals but is not necessarily required to follow through on implementing them.
That became clear to me after watching George Stephanopoulos interview White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on ABC. Like his boss, Emanuel kept referring to the goals of getting healthcare costs under control and creating an energy policy that frees the U.S. from dependence on foreign oil. But when pressed for details on how these goals would be implemented, Emanuel repeated, “We set the goals,” as if that were an end unto itself.
No better example of Obama’s cart-before-the-horse approach was his announcement that he would close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp within a year. Oh, and by the way, we will now look into what we should do with the prisoners there.
In pushing for a stimulus bill, Obama announced roughly how much he wanted to spend and how many new jobs he wanted to create. Then he left it to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to decide how the money should be spent. The fact that most of the money will be expended after the recession has ended and will not go to worthwhile infrastructure projects seemed of no concern.
Obama asked for a $634 billion reserve fund to help create a national healthcare system, but he apparently has no idea how it would interact with private health insurance. He claimed he would trim government costs and then came up with savings of $100 million. That is the equivalent of a family that spends $60,000 a year cutting $6 from its annual budget.
While engaging in a spending spree of trillions of dollars, he has claimed his budget moves America “from an era of borrow and spend” to “save and invest.” Yet he has no plan for paying off the staggering debts he is incurring.
Obama proclaimed his desire to end divisiveness and to govern in a bipartisan manner. After listening to Republican approaches to stimulating the economy, he ignored almost all of them. In fact, he has revived the divisiveness of the past by constantly bashing the Bush administration and releasing memos about enhanced interrogation, redacting the details of the plots that were successfully rolled up as a result of those techniques.
Obama’s approach to foreign affairs shows the same pattern. Obama called for “a world without nuclear weapons” without demonstrating that he has any inkling of how that might be achieved. He eschews the term “war on terror,” apparently thinking that if he refers to “man-caused disasters” and “overseas contingency operations,” the threat will disappear.
Obama set a goal of overcoming differences with adversaries like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chávez. By articulating the goal and chatting amiably with oppressors like Chávez, he seems to believe he is achieving world peace. The real world is more complicated than that and requires a carrot and stick approach.
As if he were a guest on Oprah, Obama has issued serial confessions of America’s alleged past sins, including dropping the atom bomb on Japan to end World War II. So far, the only positive result is that France has agreed to take one prisoner from Guantanamo Bay.
At the same time, by releasing memos on coercive interrogation tactics and demonizing those who tried to protect us, he has demoralized the intelligence community and imposed on the CIA a risk-averse atmosphere that will impair our safety for years to come. He did so despite warnings about the consequences on the war on terror from his own CIA director, Leon Panetta; four previous directors; and his own counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan. Despite his damaging actions, he claimed to CIA employees that he fully supports them.
Obama’s lack of follow through is why only one of the measures he sponsored as a U.S. senator was enacted: a bill to “promote relief, security, and democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
“Obama is a pitchman, not a president,” Republican strategist Brad Blakeman tells Newsmax. “He can deliver a message, but he can’t implement the message that he’s sending.”
Obama’s speaking abilities are so extraordinary that he has been able to coast through life on their strength alone, never needing to match talk with effective action. Yet Obama himself has said, “The test for all of us is not simply words, but deeds.”
In light of his record so far, the question is whether any of his words will lead to worthwhile results.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail - Go here now.
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