Thursday, May 29, 2014

Obama the administrator

I've seen several columns and posts on President Obama's managerial skills in the last few days. The unanimous consensus is that he has none. This should not be news. Prior to his run for president he had never managed anything bigger that his senate staff. Even his campaign was tiny compared to the US government.

The expectations from his followers was that he would rise to the occasion on the basis of his superior intellect.

That has not happened. In fact, he shows no signs of learning from his mistakes. The White House is organized to keep bad news from him so he is constantly learning about scandals from the news. When a scandal hits, he never fires anyone.

The right knew this all along. The left is just coming to realize it. In fact, they are embracing it.

One of the big questions of our time is the proper size and reach of government. Since Reagan, the right wants less government. Since the Roosevelts, the left has wanted more.

Obama stands at the heart of the debate. He is a champion for bigger government and a cautionary tale against it. The right has only to point to the Obamacare rollout to argue against further government programs.The right's argument is that government programs are too big and complex to be manageable and Obama has proven them correct.

That's where the President's lack of managerial skills comes in. The problems that have happened under his watch are not the fault of bad government in general. A better administrator could have made everything work.

The problem is that the Democrats are not advancing any administrators. Hillary Clinton did a poor job as Secretary of State. She spent most of her time traveling instead of running things. Probably she was getting out of the way of the people who were actually managing the State Department while burnishing her resume.

The Democratic alternative to Hillary is Elizabeth Warren. She has the same problem as Obama - very limited managerial experience. Like Obama, people want her because of her ideology.

This is a dilemma for the Democrats. Their case for big government requires competence at the top but they are choosing leaders based on ideology rather than competence.

Until the left starts advancing competent candidates, the right wins this argument by default. 

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