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Obama's Power Outage

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
January 22, 2010
The Daily Beast


If you want to grasp instantly why President Obama faces the abyss, look no further than his bizarre commentary a day after Tuesday's Massachusetts senatorial election.

First, study his explanation of what went wrong in his first year in office. "If there's one thing that I regret this year," he opined, "[it] is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us, that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values. And that I do think is a mistake of mine." President Warren G. Harding could not have said it better. Neither could Obama's Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, generally regarded as the most inarticulate White House spokesman ever (with the exception George W. Bush's Dana Perino).

I thought the president already was dealing with our core values and priorities. He was spending most of his time bailing out the banks (without restricting compensation for bank executives and without incentives to lend the bailout money to ordinary citizens); the war in Afghanistan (without any clear plan for how to end it); and health-care reform and cost-cutting (without actually reforming or cost-cutting). If those weren't real "immediate crises" or top priorities, I'm a spoil sport. Obama's chief priority, of course, was the economy and job creation, and no one knows the outcome on that front yet. As for how he would now remedy the unfortunate situation he describes ("matching up" our core values with our institutions), my guess is that only a few dozen professors will have the foggiest idea what he is talking about. And not even they will grab the American flag and man the barricades to fight for "matching."

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