by Warner Todd Huston 25 May 2014
The scandal at the Veteran's Administration is rocking the Obama regime and may yet be one of the worst scandals of the Obama era. Already two major newspapers are starting to accuse the Obama administration of utter incompetence.
In fact, a lack of "competence" is exactly how columnist for the Boston Globe Jeff Jacoby put it May 25.
Jacoby points out that Obama ran on the claim that he would be the perfect manager because he would put all the right sort of intellectual, liberal managers in place while he ran herd on them all. As he first vied for president in 2008, Obama got the endorsement of most voters because of his promise of competence.
Voters – encouraged by newspaper endorsements that saw in Obama's campaign "a marvel of sound management" (The Boston Globe) and backed him because he "offered more competence than drama" (Los Angeles Times) – ate it up. An astonishing 76 percent of respondents in a CNN/ORC poll shortly after the 2008 election agreed that Obama could "manage the government effectively."
However, as Jacoby painfully points out, today's reality stands in stark contrast to the fantasy Obama candidate in 2008. With the latest strike of the VA scandal against him, "Five years of Obama’s presidency have certainly shattered that delusion," Jacoby wrote.
Despite Obama's "preternatural" self-confidence, Jacoby reports that Americans are at last coming to doubt his competence. A recent CNN/ORC poll, the columnist says, finds that when asked about Obama's ability to "manage the government effectively," a "solid majority – 57 percent – said that description does not apply to Obama." Moreover, Jacoby notes that several other polls have found similar results.
Jacoby wraps up with this damning assessment:
The 44th president – who once said that his accomplishments could compare favorably with those of any of his predecessors with the “possible exceptions” of Lyndon Johnson, FDR, and Abraham Lincoln – has always had a huge opinion of his executive gifts. The American people no longer share it. As a political creature, Obama’s talents are undeniable. When it comes to competent governance, they turned out to be anything but.
Some may want to dismiss Jeff Jacoby's points, but his accusation of incompetence is backed up by the left-leaning Doyle McManus, columnist for the L.A. Times.
McManus starts his criticism of Obama and his administration by insisting that Americans don't expect a president to know everything that might be happening at the VA. He goes on to say, however, that we do expect that a president will appoint cabinet members and other aides who are competent enough to do the work for him.
Assuming that we have not yet heard the last heartbreaking story of neglect emerge from the VA scandal, McManus has firmly decided that Obama is "a skilled politician and speechmaker but a lousy manager."
"The biggest problems Obama has faced in the White House," McManus wrote, "have come not from making policy but from trying to implement it. The calamitous launch of his healthcare plan last fall is the biggest and most painful example, but it's only one of several."
The columnist goes on to list failure after failure – the 2009 "shovel ready jobs" debacle, IRS harassment, Benghazi, even the 2010 BP oil spill – and declares that Obama has failed to manage through them all.
"Obama has never paid as much attention to the nitty-gritty of management as he has to making policy and campaigning for votes," McManus said.
The columnist also points out that the problems at the VA have been around for the entire length of Obama's presidency, but "if Obama only learned of the depth of the problems from watching TV, as his spokesman said last week, something is amiss with his administration's internal communications."
Unlike Jacoby, McManus ends on a hopeful note, pointing out that the president has made a few moves that could lead to mitigating these monumental problems. Still, we have had six years of disaster after disaster due to Obama's total disinterest in hands-on managing. And it appears that even the newspapers are starting to see it.