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Surprise! The presidency actually requires some skills

Surprise! The presidency actually requires some skills

We in America have been pretty lucky for quite a long time. Despite the fact that our method of electing presidents hardly guarantees greatness or even competence, we’ve mostly had presidents who displayed at least the latter, competence. And we’ve even be blessed with quite a few who might merit the former: greatness.

So perhaps this got too many of us to thinking that the presidency isn’t such a difficult job after all, and doesn’t even necessarily require a lot of skills that any relatively savvy person would lack.

The unrelenting Bush-bashing was evidence of that, in a sort of twisted way. After all, if under this absolute idiot (village idiot, if I recall correctly), the country still survived, then how hard could it all be?

So for the majority of people, voting for Barack Obama for president seemed like a nifty idea in 2008. He appeared to them to be smart, personable, gave an inspiring speech, wanted to bring us together, wanted to treat other countries right, all that good stuff. So what if he lacked managerial, governing, really almost all national or even local leadership experience except oratory? In the immortal words of Hillary Clinton (although most definitely not on the same subject), what difference did it make?

Put aside for a moment your antipathy to Obama’s leftism or lies or mannerisms or whatever part or parts of his politics and persona you hate. Put aside even the fact that that Obama probably wants to weaken the US on the world stage. I’m just talking about basic skills here: negotiation, managing, communicating, knowledge of the nature of other countries.

Western Europe has gotten used to American competence, too, and started out in 2008 by thinking not only that Obama’s inexperience didn’t matter but that he would be a superior president because of his attitude, with which they could identify and which seemed more like theirs. The Soviets and Chinese probably were more aware of the significance of his lack of skills, but for them his inexperience would be a good thing. And the Arab world was probably dancing with glee, after Bush.

Well, here we are. Even most of Obama’s supporters are either angry at him or somewhat embarrassed for him by now, which can’t possibly be what he intended. Oh, they’ll continue to cover up for him, but they are not pleased.

We’ve had other inexperienced and even somewhat incompetent presidents, especially in certain areas (for example, governors virtually never have prior international experience). But we’ve been fortunate in that for the most part they’ve tended to be aware of their own inexperience, and tried to appoint people to positions in foreign policy who are the opposite from them in having both knowledge and experience. Obama has very different criteria for his appointees; he prefers the inexperienced and/or easily controlled.

For all you American history buffs out there: has any other president whose only previous national experience was a single term as senator (one he essentially left in order to campaign) appointed as his Secretary of State another senator with foreign experience only marginally greater than his own (Hillary Clinton)? I certainly can’t think of one.

You may argue that this essay is predicated on the idea that Obama would do better if he could, and that he has the US’s best interests at heart. But as I said before, I think he does not—but that doesn’t really change the points I’m trying to make, which are that (a) Obama has a very high opinion of his own foreign policy and other presidential skills despite his utter lack of experience (he made that crystal clear during the 2008 campaign; see this); (b) he doesn’t want the world to see him as incompetent; (c) he prefers equally incompetent advisors; and (d) lulled into a false sense of security, American voters failed to see his lack of experience coupled with his hubris as a huge red flag, although they should have done so.

It’s (d) that worries me the most, because even if we survive Obama’s two-term presidency it does not bode well for the future, and says nothing good about the judgment of the American people. I began this essay by saying Americans have mostly been lucky in their previous presidents. But maybe it was a luck informed by a certain amount of common sense and even knowledge. I don’t think that someone with Obama’s background would have been elected just a decade or two ago, and certainly not before. And by the word “background” I am not talking about his race, I’m referring to all the facts about Obama that were in the public domain before November of 2008 (and most definitely by November of 2012): his lack of managerial experience and foreign policy knowledge, his tremendous arrogance and narcissism, and his leftist ties and previous leftist statements.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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Arrogance and incompetence are a dangerous combination. You are too conceited to learn from your own mistakes.

Actually, the Presidency requires only 1 skill: Leadership.

    Bruno Lesky in reply to Paul. | August 1, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Uh … Maybe it would be great if he understood (a) the Constitution and (b) economics (Von Mises etc) not to mention straight talk and … Foreign policy (I’m still working on this as a libertarian).

Jimmy Carter is the happiest man in America.

I completely disagree. It’s a myth that we have been blessed with mostly great presidents. On average we have had mediocre to outright bad presidents, with a small handful of exceptions.

America’s success has been in spite of, not due to our presidents. It is our great people that have driven our success.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Same Same. | August 1, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I believe it is our constitution and ONLY our constitution that has protected us from ourselves. Now, instead of introspection for our educational and intellectual failures, and our complacence, we have too many that have turned on that great document.

    And the rest of us have largely let them do it.

“Except oratory” ? From the heart or the Teleprompter ?

Not A Member of Any Organized Political | August 1, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Someone else thinks the same about Barry.

“Putin to Obama–You’re a Weenie

“Despite threats, pleadings, tough talk and posturing worthy of a Madonna “Voguing” video, Barack Obama got served today by Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin. Putin gave fugitive NSA leaker, Eddie Snowden, walking papers. And Snowden, without wasting a minute, strolled out of his refuge in no man’s land at the Moscow International Airport and into something approaching normal life in Russia.

“What a pathetic show by the Obama Administration. They were inept and bombastic. Early on Obama and his team of mental midgets squandered their political capital by making public demands that any Russian expert would know were non-starters. Weakness, impotence are now the catch phrases that best describe the reality of the Obama Administration and its policies.

“On the Snowden front, Obama and the National Security bureaucracy are exaggerating the damage done. I can show you very simply that Obama’s claims about the harm done by Snowden is a crock of festering feces. Two words–Tamerlane Tsarnaev.

    Putin has to be truly puzzled by BHO. He’s gotta be sitting there – as the KGB type are wont to do – trying to think six moves ahead while BHO’s sheer ineptness, coupled with his lack of clear national focus, is leaving him speechless. Putin is a pro. He’s brilliant. He’s a leader. And pretty warm and fuzzy, too, I’m certain.

      Baker in reply to Fabi. | August 1, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      Putin is just pissed off. He spent all those years (KGB, etc) trying to be a chess master type leader and then for the last 4 1/2 years all the competition he gets is Obama who insists on playing checkers and whines when he doesn’t get to go first. Not much competition there. No wonder Putin wants to go out and wrestle tigers or noodle a 46 pound pike.

      Phillep Harding in reply to Fabi. | August 1, 2013 at 8:59 pm

      “Checkers” my butt. Try “Tic-tac-toe”.

i’ve got a Persian cat that’s smarter than Obumbles

Once you realize that his goal is to wreck the country, you can see he is doing a splendid job.

Carol Herman | August 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Oh, you can’t sell Dubya! No matter how you try to dress up that turkey!

And, in the “stage production” ahead, Putin wins. While he ALSO wins lots of American hearts as well. Relief that Snowden is safe. Obama got his clock cleaned. And, to more people, rather than less, that’s also a relief. Politicians don’t just cut it on the dance floor, anymore.

Up ahead? obama says he “might not go to Russia” … As if a “summit” or a “gee-whiz 20” can be thrown on the ropes … since it’s just diplomatic pish-posh, anyway.

Russia is also picking up winning chips because Assad’s about to win back his country. As if the saud’s, who are our “petunias” stink less. (Where they actually stink more.)

What’s wrong with the GOP? I doesn’t grow! Sure. It has its faithful. But it doesn’t grow a bigger tent that would accommodate more voters.

Why is that? Because lots of people don’t want to see women heading back into the back alleys for divorce. Plenty of women (where you’re looking at half the voting population) certainly don’t want to carry more kids than they want to carry. And, the GOP is labeled as the party lacking progress.

Sure, in Red States local republicans will get elected. But local politicians usually can’t make it in the “Big Apple.” Any more than out-of-town talent can make it on Broadway.

All the hoopla. And, yet? All the republicans can produce with disgust … IS (wait for this) … a lower turnout among Republican voters.

While, sure, people aren’t going to be upset if obama goes to russia, or not. (And that was the next production for Hagel and Kerry.) Gosh, I hope Bibi is listening to this!

Often times I’m reminded God works in strange ways.

Carol Herman | August 1, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Back alleys for abortions! Why I wrote divorce, I don’t know.

But the democrats keep getting handed this gift. You are free to choose your own contraceptives. And, you just don’t win points with the GOP agenda … when they aim their insults at people who understand what “choice” means.

In the play Quilters, which is about women in the late 1800’s … a woman finds herself pregnant with her 13th child. This is her spoken line when she begs the physician to help her get rid of this pregnancy: “Look, I wouldn’t take a million dollars for any one of my children. But I won’t give you a plug nickel for another.”

Republicans need too much smelling salts to understand why people aren’t seeking out the “evangelicals.” And, they’re also not enamored of the old country club republicans, either.

And, now? Putin’s won big time! He did this with two moves. One, he played cat and mouse with the white house for a month. And, then he snapped the mouse trap on the tails of three idiots: Hagel. Kerry. And, obama. You know, Americans like to laugh.

Putin’s also won by backing Syria. Since Assad is close to being back in his own saddle, again.

It’s harder for the enlisted soldier to survive the dopes in the military, than it is to survive the politicians … who are all weird. In one way. Or another.

    Oldflyer in reply to Carol Herman. | August 1, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Carol Herman, was there a thought in there somewhere?

    As usual, I agree with Neo. In this case it is the fear that the American voter is no longer capable of rational choices. And by the way, Ms Herman, Neo did not say that we usually elect great Presidents. She said we usually elect competent ones. I would say that we have probably had more than our share, however; and generally elected men, to this point, who have risen to the challenges they faced. There have been two notable exceptions in my life time, spanning now 78 years.

      jayjerome66 in reply to Oldflyer. | August 1, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      There wasn’t ‘a’ thought in there; there were about twenty. A few of them lacked connecting dots, but the majority astute…

      jayjerome66 in reply to Oldflyer. | August 1, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      FDR & Truman

      jayjerome66 in reply to Oldflyer. | August 1, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      That’s FDR & Truman who did rise to the challenges. The rest didn’t exactly rise — they more or less coped.

        healthguyfsu in reply to jayjerome66. | August 1, 2013 at 9:49 pm

        FDR is responsible for everything wrong with our country today. Carter would not have been Carter without following FDR’s lead.

      Carol Herman in reply to Oldflyer. | August 2, 2013 at 1:42 am

      Dahling, we usually just elect politicians. While there are whores working in whore houses. And, visionaries are put into mental institutions.

      You know back in 1952 the GOP was so desperate; not having seen inside the White House since FDR’s win in 1932 … that they went to Eisenhower and begged him to run at the top of the GOP ticket.

      What’s interesting is what Eisenhower said. First, he said he had also received the same offer (to run at the top of the ticket) from the democrats. But he feared that if he accepted the offer through the democrat’s door … one of them would stick their hand up his tuchis, and he’d be used as a puppet. Eisenhower then chose to run as a republican.

      You might not know this. But LBJ was the Senate leader. Every Friday he and Ike would have lunch. LBJ saw to it that all the programs (which were very expansive) would pass and see legislative daylight. Eisenhower added seats to his cabinet. And, increased the Executive’s Federal footprint.

      Not that we didn’t face foibles. The shooting down of Gary Powers U2-over flight of Russian space happened on Eisenhower’s watch. And, just like Obama, what Ike liked most about being president was his golf game.

      And, believe it or not, all the GOP complaints about obama tends to fall on deaf ears. The place to watch is to see if you’re gaining more voters. While I think “talking politics” has become much duller than it used to be. And, the only thing growing is the number of people on both sides who don’t vote.

      Also, back before women voted, men were offered a drink of whiskey at the polls, when they went to vote. It was the politician’s way of saying “thank you.” As men voters staggered in and out of the polling booths.

    NeoConScum in reply to Carol Herman. | August 1, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Oldflyer: In answer to your question to CH: NO, NOPE, NADA, NEIN, NYET, No-F’ing-Way.

    There’s alot of gray in my beard, as well, and I enjoyed your comment immensely.

He’s half African, so there you go.

    AYFKM in reply to AYFKM. | August 1, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Two people gave me thumbs down. Why is that? Is not the president half African? Is it that we are not supposed to mention it?

    Or are you bothered that the worse he does the blacker he gets?

    In any case, he remains 50% African, 100% incompetent.

      Midwest Rhino in reply to AYFKM. | August 1, 2013 at 8:00 pm

      well, he is half black and half white, and 0% African, afaik.

      He did praise the dreams from his African father, or at least the book he probably didn’t write fits with his “anti-colonialist” attitudes, which fit with his racist “God Damn America” church in Chicago.

      Some black Americans might have slight connection to black slaves, but Obama came from African lineage that were not American slaves, and were more likely connected to Africans that hunted and sold Africans INTO slavery. Many blacks prefer to be called American, without the African prefix.

      Some whites might have slight connection to slave owners, but likely have a stronger connection to those that died freeing the slaves.

      Lizzy Warren used the fake claim of her bloodline when her real ancestors were forcing the Cherokee down the trail of tears. Obama’s real history seems as deceptive as Lizzy’s.

        jayjerome66 in reply to Midwest Rhino. | August 1, 2013 at 8:35 pm

        Which is why it’s a disservice to the truth to describe him as the first Black President — he’s the first half-White half-Black President…

        It’s also the same disservice to the truth to describe Ted Cruz as the first Hispanic Solicitor General in Texas,or as an Hispanic Texas Senator — as his mother’s Irish-Italian.

      Bruno Lesky in reply to AYFKM. | August 1, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      It’s not because of his race (AA) that BHO has his “vision.”

      There are many AA’s who see the world otherwise! e.g. Thomas Sowell, etc.

      Also, there are many “whites” who share BHO collectivist “vision.” For example: BHO’s mother!
      + Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, most of Hollywood, etc. etc.

Good Post, Neo. The man is a(Horrific..!!)JOKE. Incapable of leading. Utterly incompetent. Do you suppose that he has occupied the Oval Office for say…ohhhh…7-consecutive 10-hour days in the 4 & a half embarrassing years of his reign? I’ll bet easy money he’s never come near that. He HATES work. You know, that stuff that responsible adults do regularly for a whole host of reasons?

ALL His Infantile Majesty has done for 4 1/2 years is CAMPAIGN. Still doing it. Day in, day out. By far the most “away from Washington” President in our history.
He is, has been and will continue to be a Complete Shipwreck.

I’m horribly afraid that Rush nailed it perfectly on Nov.7th when he said:”Well, folks…In a nation of infants, Santa Claus Wins.” Yep, our youngers can’t construct, spell and punctuate a simple declarative English sentence(much less a compound one..!), but, by Gawd, they can instagram, tweety and f-booky like addicts. )h, and of course, VOTE for the Boy King. Are we not blessed?!

Phillep Harding | August 1, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Any discussion of the Big Zero has to take into consideration his incredible laziness. He is too lazy to think or plan, and too arrogant to think he might need to.

To “Same Same”:

Who said “we have been blessed with mostly great presidents”? I certainly didn’t.

Take another look at that first paragraph. The phrase I used was “we’ve even been blessed with quite a few [presidents] who might merit” greatness. I said we’d mostly had presidents who demonstrated competence.

It’s obvious that Obama vastly overrates his own competence. What’s puzzling is how many other people who should have known better vastly overrated it too. You’d think someone would need to have led something already in order to be anointed as the genius of a leader who was going save the country like no one else could.

The choice of Biden as VP is something I haven’t figured out how to interpret. Was it because Obama wanted to be sure he was the smartest one on the ticket? But he thinks he’s the smartest one in just about any room, so why did he have to reach so low? Alternatively, Obama isn’t even smart enough to know how dumb Joe Biden is.