Obama had far less of a honeymoon period for his Presidency than might have been expected given his large majorities and high popularity. The reason for this, in my view, was his lack of skill. One of the things that people forget is that politics is a skill, just like anything else in life. It takes practice and effort. Obama, due to his inexperience, is now facing some key challenges that crimp his political power.
For example, his lack of experience in legislating cost him early when his efforts failed so publicly in the area of bipartisanship. The explanation that makes the most sense to me is that he trusted the House leadership to draft a fair stimulus package, but they took advantage of his inexperience and harmed his image in the process. One consequence of this “bone-headed” mistake was a startling 100% united opposition to his efforts among Republicans and fractures in his own party as moderate Blue Dog Democrats split off from Obama’s coalition.
His inexperience also harmed him through a string of terrible high-level appointments. The worst one, in my view, was his effort to jam through Sen. Daschle, a fellow who would have had great power in Obama’s administration because of all the former Sen. Daschle staff on hand. I think this was a major victory for conservatives, because Daschle would have been a powerful player in pushing through socialized healthcare.
Visually, the great symbol of Obama’s inexperience was his surprising dependence on the use of teleprompter technology. This dependence cost him both credibility and respect. Even worse, he was ridiculed for his use of the teleprompter at precisely the time in his Presidency when he needed an illusion of smarts, mastery and professionalism.
I guess, for full disclosure, I should point out that I got in on the teleprompter feeding frenzy myself with this little video.
Unfortunately for Obama, the American people had an opportunity to see the “real” Barack Obama quite early in his Presidency when Obama went on the Jay Leno show. In a brief unscripted moment, Obama revealed that - without the help of the teleprompter - he’s the sort of fellow who would make fun of Special Olympics kids.
Obama, for his part, apparently knew the teleprompter was signaling his inexperience and inability to speak eloquently off-the-cuff. However, he made matters worse when he substituted a big screen television for the teleprompter at his second press conference.
Given Obama’s life-long commitment to Marxist socialist thought, I’m breathing a sigh of relief that his honeymoon period has been complicated by his own missteps. His administration would be a lot more frightening if – like FDR or LBJ - he was experienced enough to know what he’s doing. Neither of those political geniuses would have squandered their first 100 days.
Acknowledgements - The Anonymous Political Scientist gratefully acknowledges the following people for helping edit and proofread this post: http://twitter.com/culturalofferin
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