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What do you do if your man can't handle the job?

If you're Newsweek, you claim the job's too big... for any man:

Can any single person fully meet the demands of the 21st-century presidency? Obama has looked to many models of leadership, including FDR and Abraham Lincoln, two transformative presidents who governed during times of upheaval. But what's lost in those historical comparisons is that both men ran slim bureaucracies rooted in relative simplicity. Neither had secretaries of education, transportation, health and human services, veterans' affairs, energy, or homeland security, nor czars for pollution or drug abuse, nor televisions in the West Wing constantly tuned to yammering pundits. They had bigger issues to grapple with, but far less managing to do. "Lincoln had time to think," says Allan Lichtman, a professor of history at American University. "That kind of downtime just doesn't exist anymore."
Among a handful of presidential historians NEWSWEEK contacted for this story, there was a general consensus that the modern presidency may have become too bloated. "The growth is exponential in these last 50 years, especially the number of things that are expected of the president," says presidential biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, who had dinner with Obama and a handful of other historians last summer. Obama aides speaking on background say that the president's inner circle can become stretched by the constant number of things labeled "crises" that land on his desk--many of which, like the mistaken firing of Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod in Georgia or the intricacies of the oil cleanup in the gulf, could easily be handled by lower-level staff. "Some days around here, it can almost be hard to breathe," says one White House official who didn't want to go on the record portraying his boss as overwhelmed. Another senior adviser says that sometimes the only way to bring the president important news is to stake out his office and "walk and talk" through the hall.

The new meme...  Obama isn't failing at the job... the job is simply too big...


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Comments (47)

I think if one would insert... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

I think if one would insert the word 'particular' between the words 'your' and 'man', the easiest solution to the inability of the current President to handle the job would probably become more obvious.

If the job is to big for an... (Below threshold)
James H:

If the job is to big for any more mortal ... isn't shrinking the job an option? The trend of czars is really all about centralizing power and responsibility in the White House under the auspices of the EOP. Seems to tme the smart thing is to farm a lot of that work back out to the Cabinet departments.

How about getting rid of a ... (Below threshold)

How about getting rid of a lot of those departments as a solution?

To big for this man, perhap... (Below threshold)
jay Wills:

To big for this man, perhaps.

"Too." (Arrgh, need coffee... (Below threshold)
Jay Wills:

"Too." (Arrgh, need coffee).

Overall, the job *is* too b... (Below threshold)
Michael P:

Overall, the job *is* too big. In 2009, the Federal government employed 2.77 million civilians and 1.59 million military personnel (according to opm.gov). Depending on span of control, this requires about ten layers of managers to run. That is too much like a game of Telephone and not enough like a well-functioning organization.

I guess it took President Obama to prove to Newsweek that the Federal government needs to go on a diet.

If the presidency is too bi... (Below threshold)

If the presidency is too big of a job, will Dim Won, Barack Obama, be forced to give up golf, endless vacations and writing children books? Wes simply don't know if Obama can handle the job of President. He has never tried, see the golf, vacations and children's book.

When you haven't any idea w... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

When you haven't any idea what you're doing, of course the job's going to be hard. Leadership? Obama's never had to be a leader. Business interactions? Business is teh evil, so he's avoided learning anything about how it actually works.

And somehow whenever he tries anything, something 'unexpectedly' goes wrong! How can anyone rule with things constantly going wrong?

I'm currently wading my way through Hayek's "The Road To Serfdom" - and one thing he's mentioned is that the leftists/socialists never seemed to be able to understand that the bad results they got were the direct results of their policies. It was always something 'unforeseen' that caused the problems, never the policy!

(And to show how definitions have changed, 'liberal' then is decidedly NOT the 'liberal' of today!)

And they mocked Bush when h... (Below threshold)
Maggie Mama:

And they mocked Bush when he said during a debate with John Kerry that being president is a "hard" job. Guess Bush was telling the truth in words that every American could understand.

Guess Barry didn't believe him.

Obama's supporters will go ... (Below threshold)
Hank:

Obama's supporters will go to any lengths to avoid blaming him for being incompetent.

But Newsweek in particular has a lot of nerve running this story. Newsweeks Jonathan Alter being the one who claimed Obama is "..above the country, above - above the world, he's sort of God."

Besides, that "idiot" W seemed to be able to handle the job, without whining and complaining.

I remember those exact argu... (Below threshold)

I remember those exact arguments during Jimmy Carter's presidency. They stopped when Reagan took office. Oddly enough.

In keeping with the sentime... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

In keeping with the sentiment of a few already commenting here, since the job is so big why is it that the President (and not just Obama) keeps advocating for more government to manage? And Congress is more than happy to oblige.

Newsweek is comprised of nothing but apologists anymore. Did GWB have a big job? Why yes. But they never feel a need to apologize nor make excuses for their "enemies".

While I don't think it flie... (Below threshold)
Ryan M.:

While I don't think it flies as an excuse for Obama, I think the presidency IS 'too big'. There are too many things it is 'responsible' for. Powers that the president shouldn't even be THINKING about. .because they should be entirely within the purview of the fifty individual states. Devolve those powers back where they belong and the job could become 'simpler'. Of course, I doubt many liberals would be at home with THAT solution. . .

[I]Section 2 - Civilian Power over Military, Cabinet, Pardon Power, Appointments

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section 3 - State of the Union, Convening Congress

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.[/I]

See? Just do that and watch how much the job simplifies!

Job wasn't too big for that... (Below threshold)
Mark L:

Job wasn't too big for that "bumpkin" from Texas that preceded The Won. Or (to be bipartisan) for the "bunpkin" from Arkansas that preceded the "bumkin" from Texas. Love or hate either of them, no one can say they could not handle the job.

I'd make some snarky comment about maybe it being a problem with The Won's Ivy League edu-ma-cation, except for the fact that his two predecessors also went to Ivy League schools, so that's not the problem.

Simple solutions to this pr... (Below threshold)
Matt:

Simple solutions to this problem.

1) Stop playing golf, dating, vacationing, electioneering and general F-In Off since the job is hard.
2) Delegate some of the easy staff management stuff to the VP.
3) Drop the Czars, the constitution already provides for cabinet members to do the same work.
4) Let congress do their job, don't try to do it for them.
5) Pull his head of of his ass, put on his big boy panties and step up to the Frickin plate!!

Obama keeps this up and I'm gonna start missing Bill...

Besides, that "idiot" W ... (Below threshold)

Besides, that "idiot" W seemed to be able to handle the job, without whining and complaining.

10. Posted by Hank

whining and complaining seems to be the only things the current occupier of that office is capable of.

Does he truly have no clue at all as to how pathetic that makes him appear?

Especially to people outside this country to whom he's doing that whining?
-

Mark L -It's the p... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Mark L -

It's the person, not the education. Obama attended (though I may point out that we STILL have not seen his transcripts) but it's pretty questionable at this point whether he learned anything applicable for his present position.

Certainly he's never done anything noteworthy that prepared him for running the country... much less a big business, small business, or even a night shift at a McDonalds.

Does he even know what 'work' actually IS?

He has charisma, but the effect of that is fading fast. He's like a supermodel - looks really good when made up properly and clothed in borrowed finery and posed just so for the camera and then the images are Photoshopped to hide the flaws...

But reality is a cruel bitch that strips off all the illusion and glamour. I believe Obama thought it'd be a 4-year lovefest, a media orgy with him at the center. It's manifestly unfair that he be forced to actually DO something so ... (shudder) dirty as actually work to ensure the nation's survival. That's the concern of other, lesser people.

On second thought - he's not a supermodel, he's Thurston Howell the Third from Gilligan's Island. Dependent on others, uncaring about reality, thinks just promising out money will solve all his problems and get him the slavish devotion he deserves.

Rather like landscaping: </... (Below threshold)
gary gulrud:

Rather like landscaping:

One can plant hedges and clip them, perennials, stack walls, install fountains, iron fence, gates and paths.

Or just screw it and quit with a lawn jockey.

Oh HO! Troll free to #18. ... (Below threshold)
epador:

Oh HO! Troll free to #18. Wonder Why? This post must be too big for them to wrap their talking points around.

I guess in retrospect, Illi... (Below threshold)
Roy:

I guess in retrospect, Illinois State Senator is too big a job for one man - Obama being that one man. It's tough enough just to be Present, let alone handle all those votes.

When all you are in it for ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

When all you are in it for is the adulation and for the parties then it is too big for you.

It's a shame that when America needed a competent leader all we got was a self centered egoist that had no interest in leading.

Any job is "too big" when y... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Any job is "too big" when you are an empty suit to begin with.

Perhaps NewSpeak would have been closer to the truth with a headline such as:

OBAMA NOT UP TO THE JOB

Newsweak is complicit in ge... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

Newsweak is complicit in getting the (P)resident elected. Its only natural that they would go into CYA mode when the SOB craters by releasing a story like this.

Then again, it was widely know by conservatives that 'The Won' was all hat and no cattle even before W left office.

What's really interesting i... (Below threshold)
Maggie Mama:

What's really interesting is the fact that these stories are surfacing at this point in time.

It goes to the Left's realization that most Americans are seeing the "real" Obama so they feel the need to step in and once again "cover" for him.

(And to show how d... (Below threshold)
ryan a:
(And to show how definitions have changed, 'liberal' then is decidedly NOT the 'liberal' of today!)

Ya, HUGE differences in meaning...although there are historical relationships between all of the definitions of "liberal", from classical liberalism to "social" liberalism (influenced by Keynes, the New Deal, etc), to what some call "neoliberalism".

I'm currently wading my way through Hayek's "The Road To Serfdom"...

That's yet ANOTHER econ book that I have been wanting to read. I'd be interested to hear your overall reaction. I plan to read that one alongside Polanyi's "The Great Transformation," which argued a very different case.

I think that reading all of economic texts helps move beyond some of the shallow, often ideologically blinded debates about politics and economics. I was just reading a book about economic history and I was surprised that Keynes read and liked Hayek's book that you mention. Keynes felt it was a good argument overall, by my accounts, but obviously had some very different ideas about solutions. The Keynes-Hayek debate is another read that I want to get to...at some point.

This story probably does as... (Below threshold)
OldflyerG8r:

This story probably does as much to explain why Newsweek has become an afterthought, as anything else.

It is ironic that the man with the least experience, who nevertheless has tried to accrue more power than any President since FDR, should suddenly find that he is over his head. Then his apologists blame it on the job.

It's interesting that just ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

It's interesting that just two years ago there was no discussion at all about this. We had presidents that could delegate and manage people. Now we have a president who only knows how to preen and bow.

Somehow Putin manages to run a country across 11 time zones. No problems. GWB managed a war on two fronts and a recession without difficulty (and the left still maintains he is a moron).

But what is most interesting is that when the left says that he government is too big the answer is not to cut the government. No that wold be too obvious. The answer is that we need to expand government to install some other kind of unelected leader.

Once again the failure of the left is not seen for what it is and the answer is always to move further left.

Maybe Barry should apply fo... (Below threshold)
914:

Maybe Barry should apply for affirmative action its the economy stupid assistance.

Mama grizzly can climb mou... (Below threshold)
914:

Mama grizzly can climb mountains. Barry lackwit can sink economies.

Man, he was the logical choice.

Ryan A -That thing... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Ryan A -

That thing's a rough read. With little background in economics I'm having to flip back frequently, looking for the ideas referenced and not quite grasped the first time.

And I'll be honest, I'm not sure how much is sticking or if I'm even going to be able to get through it. It's been three weeks now, and I've only worked my way up to chapter 4. (I gave up on the introductory segments after the third and just flipped to chapter 1.)

Let's play liberal for a mi... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Let's play liberal for a minute...

"Oh, sure, the Presidency is too big for a black man, but you didn't say that when there were white men in the White House. Racists!"

Newsweek is stil being publ... (Below threshold)
Tsar Nicholas II:

Newsweek is stil being published??

Funny thing is, Barry H Oba... (Below threshold)
Hank:

Funny thing is, Barry H Obama probably disagrees with the premise of the story also.

I'm sure if he explained things more slowly, and more often, using smaller words, we'd all agree he's doing a bang up job.

Im sure if he locked us in ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Im sure if he locked us in a room and kept repeating his side of things, eventually we'd see the light...

If only to get fed.

That thing's a rou... (Below threshold)
ryan a:
That thing's a rough read. With little background in economics I'm having to flip back frequently, looking for the ideas referenced and not quite grasped the first time.

And I'll be honest, I'm not sure how much is sticking or if I'm even going to be able to get through it. It's been three weeks now, and I've only worked my way up to chapter 4. (I gave up on the introductory segments after the third and just flipped to chapter 1.)

ya, some books are just dense, slow reads. i know this one was written in 1944, and hayek had a very specific argument he was making in that context. i have it, but just need the time to get back to it--sometimes my side projects (ie reading about econ theory and history) get completely forgotten once im in the middle of the semester. name of the game.

oh, just in case, have you seen the pdf to the condensed version (this was published in 1945 by reader's digest, and is one of the ways hayek's book and ideas gained a lot of attention). there is a link to the pdf here:

http://hayekcenter.org/?p=682

It's 96 pages or something--but maybe it cuts to the chase.

Also, for a good book about the history of economic thought, check out "New Ideas from Dead Economists" by Buchholz. It's super readable, and gives a good rundown of the ideas of Smith, Ricardo, Mill, Marx, Keynes, and Friedman. Plus, WF Buckley liked it, so there you go!

Question, if Barry is so bu... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Question, if Barry is so busy and the job just can't be done by one man; just where the hell did he find the time to write that children's book for his kids?

As did Bob Hostetler @ #11,... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

As did Bob Hostetler @ #11, I also recall the "office is too big for one man" argument from the left once Carter started falling apart.

In Obama's case, he not only lacked management experience, he was completely devoid of meaningful accomplishments. Evidently he was elected because 1) people were tired of Bush after eight years, and 2) thought it would be "cool" to have a black President.

Which brings up the idea that we need some stricter qualifications for voting.

Can any single person fully... (Below threshold)
Trump:

Can any single person fully meet the demands of the 21st-century presidency? Obama has looked to many models of leadership, including FDR and Abraham Lincoln, two transformative presidents who governed during times of upheaval. But what's lost in those historical comparisons is that both men ran slim bureaucracies rooted in relative simplicity

>>>> Yup. Those two had a walk in the park! Civil War? A mere skirmish! WW2? Pshaw, nothing! Wars of survival pale in comparison to having to run a small bureaucarcy!

Jim Addison,"As di... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jim Addison,

"As did Bob Hostetler @ #11, I also recall the "office is too big for one man" argument from the left once Carter started falling apart."

Anyone who expects one person to solve the current political and economic situation that the US faces is lost, IMO. The problem extends far beyond one elected leader, one party, or one particular event. There are--and have been--lots of hands in on this game. The issues we are facing certainly did NOT begin in 2008--and they didn't magically start up in 2000 either.

"In Obama's case, he not only lacked management experience, he was completely devoid of meaningful accomplishments. Evidently he was elected because 1) people were tired of Bush after eight years, and 2) thought it would be "cool" to have a black President."

I think the McCain of 2000 could have beat Obama--but not the McCain of 2008. Completely different, if you ask me. So part of the problem is that the GOP didn't really put up a viable alternative. And while Palin generated political interest, I don't think she really added to the ticket for the voters as a whole. Populism is great, but it doesn't actually win elections--George Will wrote a pretty good essay about that earlier this year.

Also, the economy was crashing, and the Republicans took the heat for that. That was a big part of it--and that's how our political system works. If the economy goes, the party in power takes the heat. Now, that doesn't mean that such a pattern makes any SENSE, but that's often what happens. Presidents also take credit for improving economies too--even if they really had nothing to do with it.

GarandFan,"Questio... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

GarandFan,

"Question, if Barry is so busy and the job just can't be done by one man; just where the hell did he find the time to write that children's book for his kids?"

Maybe Obama hired the same team of writers that Glenn Beck needed to complete his "Christmas Sweater" masterpiece.

I mean, how many of these people actually sit down and write their own stuff? Maybe some do, but I have a feeling that lots of them have professional writers do these kinds of projects--and keep their twitter and facebook pages up to date as well. It's all about PR.

Sure, I'm cynical.

Thanks, Ryan - I appreciate... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Thanks, Ryan - I appreciate that link!

Comment #15, by Matt: "Obam... (Below threshold)
Tom Blogical:

Comment #15, by Matt: "Obama keeps this up and I'm gonna start missing Bill..."

LLLLMMMMAAAAOOOO!!!! No doubt...! That is all.

The media is hilarious, 2 y... (Below threshold)
John:

The media is hilarious, 2 years ago this guy walked on water, smartest guy to ever run for president, transformative leader, post racial, post partisian, post everything. Now with god knows how many Tsars etc to help him the job's just too big for any one man.

"Also, the economy was c... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"Also, the economy was crashing, and the Republicans took the heat for that. That was a big part of it--and that's how our political system works. If the economy goes, the party in power takes the heat." ~emphasis mine

Except for one minor detail there. The Democrats had the House and the Senate. People just wanted to blame Bush for the 2008 downturn. Ironically, when the economy went south right at the end of Clinton's terms and then after 9/11 we rebounded rather nicely. Guess who had the House and Senate then...

Oyster,"Except for... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Oyster,

"Except for one minor detail there. The Democrats had the House and the Senate."

Ya, I know. But the Republicans were still seen as the party in power, and they took the heat in the elections of 2008. Again, I'm not arguing that these kinds of patterns make any sense. Keep that in mind. The president in power usually takes the blame for a bad economy or gets the credit for a good one--despite the fact that attributing either blame or credit to one person isn't usually very logical.

And that's my point here. Conservatives are railing on Obama, as if he's the source of all of our problems--just as Liberals blamed Bush for everything under the sun as well. Granted, each of them has their shortcomings--this is pretty clear. And while each of them contributed their part to the current situation, the reasons why we are in this situation go FAR BEYOND one presidency, one set of policies, or one party's governing philosophy.

That's how I see it. But both sides keep playing the same game by blaming the other for all of the problems. And the public keeps voting for one, and then the other. Meanwhile, when it comes to some of the biggest issues, not much really changes over time.

Ryan, I see 1 problem with ... (Below threshold)
John:

Ryan, I see 1 problem with your assessment, when the Bush economy was on fairly solid ground the press would go to great lenghs to find any and all slight negatives and highlight them. This had the effect of misrepresenting the state of the economy and erroding confidence. Now the press seems intent on latching on to any glimmer of hope and pushing that as the narrative only to later have to publish something about unexpected down turns or adjustments in the previous quarter projections etc. I agree that laying the state of the economy at the feet of the president is a little foolish but I do place considerable blame for the general misinformation on the media. Perhaps liberals can argue the same point of view about Fox News but I would point out that they are a very small part of the overall news media, the bulk of the media (CBS, NBC, ABC especially) tilts the other way.

Hey John,"Ryan, I ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Hey John,

"Ryan, I see 1 problem with your assessment, when the Bush economy was on fairly solid ground the press would go to great lenghs to find any and all slight negatives and highlight them. This had the effect of misrepresenting the state of the economy and erroding confidence."

Ya, I think you're right that the media went after Bush on full throttle. Although I am not sure how much of an effect that had on the actual economy. The crash of '08 was a long time coming.

"I agree that laying the state of the economy at the feet of the president is a little foolish but I do place considerable blame for the general misinformation on the media."

I think that maintaining a general skepticism about any source of news or information is a good idea. Everyone has a position, and nobody tells the full story, so it's up to us as the consumers of media to evaluate this big mass of information with a critical eye. I don't care if it's Fox or CNN--there is no reason to assume that any of them tell all there is to know.

Anyway, good points.




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