Failed presidents have at least one thing in common and that is micromanagement at the expense of policy movement. Another presidential failure is governing the way you wished things to be as opposed to the way things are.
The most recent presidential failure was Jimmy Carter. And, Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter have a great deal in common when it comes to management style.
In 1979 in what became the waning days of the Carter administration, The Atlantic did an expose on the Carter presidency entitled, “The Passionless Presidency” wherein it made a diagnosis of his management style:
“But if he has the gift of virtue, there are other gifts he lacks. One is sophistication. It soon became clear, in ways I shall explain, that Carter and those closest to him to him took office in profound ignorance of their jobs. They were ignorant of the possibilities and the most likely pitfalls. They fell prey to predictable dangers and squandered precious time.
"The second is the ability to explain his goals and thereby to offer an object for loyalty larger than him.
"The third, and most important, is the passion to convert himself from a good man into an effective one, to learn how to do the job. Carter often seemed more concerned with taking the correct position than with learning how to turn that position into results. He seethed with frustration when plans were rejected, but felt no compulsion to do better next time. He did not devour history for its lessons, surround himself with people who could do what he could not, or learn from others that fire was painful before he plunged his hand into the flame.”
Like Carter, Obama lacked the sophistication and experience when he became president. Both were ignorant of their jobs and how to lead. There can be no on the job training for leaders who are smart enough to know what they don’t know and surround themselves with people who do and then allow them to help you.
Obama, like Carter’s micromanagement and mismanagement, is a creature of insecurity as much as it is a misunderstanding of what policies are necessary and what are possible. In the Obama White House politics trumps all.
Former Defense Secretaries Panetta and Gates most recently validated these points with regard to Obama’s micromanagement and failures of policy.
This past week Panetta and Gates appeared together at the Reagan National Security Forum and this is what they said with regard to Obama’s management style:
Gates said Obama’s micromanagement drove him crazy and went on to state that, “I think when a president wants highly centralized control at the White House, that’s not bureaucratic; that’s political.”
Panetta echoed Gates’ observations and went on to say that you must rely on military experts to figure out what our goals and objectives should be in defeating ISIS and not those of political neophytes.
A micromanager typically does not work well with others because they seek to control all aspects of their policy and decision making. We see this quite clearly with Obama. He has no relationship with Congress on either side of the aisle. He is not the least interested in the “art of the deal.” He is more comfortable with picking up his pen and his phone and acting unilaterally or dictating to Congress what he will accept.
While Obama is a micromanager he can also be the ultimate delegator. There is no doubt he likes being president but doesn’t seem to like the work. He prefers to subcontract presidential leadership to Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi on legislation and Vice President Joe Biden on spending and the economy while leaving foreign affairs to the secretary of state.
At the time of his re-election bid, Carter’s approval ratings had fallen below 30 percent and a majority of Americans felt that America was on the wrong track. Today, Obama’s approval rating hovers around 42 percent, and a majority of Americans believe we are on the wrong track.
As a result of Obama’s management style and failure of accomplishment in the past six years — Democrats realized a stunning rebuke in the midterm elections of 2014.
The disastrous midterm election was as much a reflection on Obama as it was the Democrats defeated at the ballot box.
The hallmark of the Carter years was the word “malaise.” Malaise is defined as “a feeling of uneasiness, indisposition, and distress.” All these symptoms plagued Carter and we can clearly see them again with Obama along with some new ones.
President Obama has governed at a time of high unemployment, low GDP, rising inflation for consumer goods, falling housing prices, a stalled housing market, record levels of home foreclosures and bankruptcies, failed energy policy, wars, and government spending too much while taking in too little.
If “malaise” defined the Carter years, perhaps the word "funk” would be an apt description of the Obama years thus far.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of politics and public policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.
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