Friday, September 14, 2012

A Part-Time President

Barack Obama probably puts in less time as President than anyone in recent history. Multiple accounts such as The Obamas say that he has a hard commitment for dinner with the family several times a week. After 6 pm, he is off-limits except for special events and emergencies. He also plays golf more than any other president. He bowls. He plays basketball. For his 50th birthday he spent hours planning his party which included a basketball tournament between teams of politicians and professional players.

He is also reclusive. Even when he was a senator he and his wife decided that they would not make any friends in Washington because everyone there has an agenda.

This has repercussions. He skips daily security briefings, preferring to read the reports by himself. Congressional leaders complain that he does not return phone calls. Other presidents used a round of golf to get legislation passed, it was a major news event when Obama played a round with House Speaker Boehner.

Even on the campaign trail, Obama is stingy with appearances. Every other presidential candidate shares the stage with local candidates. With Obama, people are lucky to get a shout-out.

This is catching up with Obama. The White House insists that daily security briefings are unnecessary because "he doesn't need someone to read the reports to him like Bush did." This is like asserting that reading text books is the same as attending college lectures.

Most other issues are handled the same way. The President reads some briefing notes alone at night. If he objects to something then he makes a few notes or simply writes "no". If there are no notes then he agrees.

The economy is not improving. Job creation is worse than in 2011. Obama's economic policies are not working. He has handed responsibility for the economy over to the Treasury Department and their strategy has been to lower interest rates in the hope that businesses will use the money to expand. Right now interest rates are so low that companies can borrow from the government and buy short-term government bonds which pay at a higher rate then pocket the difference. With rates so low, banks cannot make any money lending and individuals cannot live on their savings. The result of all this is an economy where Wall Street is taking advantage of cheap money to get richer but not doing anything to help the rest of the country.

A more ambitious president would fire his advisers and look for a new approach. That is what Bush did when the Iraq war seemed unwinnable.

His preparations for September 11 are part of the pattern. His last security briefing was September 5th. With an important anniversary approaching that is known to be associated with terrorist activity, the President could not be bothered to meet with his security advisers. There are reports that the government had 48 hours warning about the embassy attacks. Did this reach the President? If so then why didn't he react? Did he even read the warnings?

Contrast this with Mitt Romney. When he took over the Olympics he assumed that they had a public relations problem that could easily be fixed. He expected the job to take less time than Bain Capitol so that he could spend more time with his wife. Instead he found an organization that was failing on all fronts. So he did whatever it took. He put in 100+ hour weeks. He missed spending his 30th anniversary with his wife. When he finally cut back, it was to 80 hour weeks.

Any that was just running the Olympics, not the country. He could have quit. Instead he worked hard and looked for solutions. The result was a successful Olympics.

Does anyone seriously think that Barack Obama would have done that? Would Obama have spent every waking hour saving an organization? Or that his wife would allow it? (Anyone who says "yes" needs to go back and reread The Obamas).

Regardless of what you think about their respective policies, Obama is not putting in the effort needed to be a successful president and Romney will.

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