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Anything You Can Do, He Can Do Better

When President Obama was looking for his new Chief of Staff to replace Rahm Emanuel, President Obama apparently mused "You know, I'd make a good chief of staff."

No, Mr. President, you wouldn't. You'd make a lousy chief of staff. A successful chief of staff has to have certain qualities you lack -- discipline, loyalty, resolve, and most importantly, a willingness to subsume your ego for the good of another. Chiefs of staff have to be willing to "jump on the grenade" for their bosses, and I simply don't see Obama being willing to do that.

This statement was, as New York Magazine noted, a pure example of Obama's self-confidence completely overwhelming reality. And that is entirely typical.

We've all known people like that. They are so ego-driven that they simply can't imagine that they would not be successful at whatever they set their minds to. They are so convinced of their superiority that they can look at anyone else doing their job and say "I could not only do that if I set my mind to it, but I'd do it better."

I had that disease once. It took a few embarrassing failures to recognize that there are skills I will never possess, and certain tasks I am fundamentally unsuited for. The main takeaway I had was to almost never show any contempt for those in any job or position in the private sector. I would be lousy in a fast-food restaurant, I am almost dangerous with any kind of power tools, I ought to be banned from any kind of auto repair that involves a tool, and there should be a law preventing me from attempting to do anything music-related.

But in Obama's case, his whole life has been defined as "falling up." Before now, he's never really challenged himself, never taken on a role of real responsibility, and never really failed in a way that taught him a lesson.

Oh, there is one almost-exception. In 2000, then-State Senator Barack Obama took on incumbent Congressman (and former Black Panther) Bobby Rush, and was soundly defeated. Rush saw Obama for what he was: "Barack Obama went to Harvard and became an educated fool. Barack is a person who read about the civil-rights protests and thinks he knows all about it."

That could have been a defining moment for Obama, a wake-up call. Instead, his friends and supporters rallied around him, comforted him, assured him that he really was all that, and it was just a fluke.

But when you look at Obama's history, one fact jumps out: at no point has Obama ever challenged himself. At no point has he gone all-out for anything. At no point has he taken on a real position of responsibility and leadership.

At no point has he ever put himself in a position where he might fail, publicly and spectacularly, in a way with real consequences beyond himself.

I have a friend who lives in Manchester. We've been friends for... good lord, almost 20 years. For a few of those years, we even shared an apartment and got along just fine. (It helps that he worked overnight, and we didn't see each other that much.) A bit over a year ago, he realized his life was going nowhere -- he was in a dead-end job, never getting ahead, and in general stuck in a huge rut where he would expect to keep spinning his wheels for the rest of his life. So he took a huge chance on improving his lot.

He had a contact in Las Vegas, so he up and moved his ass across the country to start afresh. He moved in with his contact, got a job fairly quickly, and started on building a new life.

And he promptly crashed and burned. He lost the job within a few months, his contact got tired of carrying him, and eventually he came back to New Hampshire for an even more menial and lesser-paying job than he'd had before he left. He is, in almost every way, worse off than he was before he went to Vegas.

But I have a hell of a lot more respect for my friend than I do for Obama. My friend took a hell of a chance. He challenged himself, he put himself out there, in an attempt to make his lot in life better. He failed, but he hasn't given up. He's building himself back up, he's not going back to his old job (even though it pays better than what he's doing now) because the current job has more potential. And he knows a lot more about himself than he did before -- he knows that he can fail. But more importantly, he knows he can survive failing.

Obama, on the other hand, has never failed because he's never taken any chances. Before the presidency, he'd never held or sought any position of responsibility or leadership. Before the presidency, he's never put himself in a position where he could fail with any real consequences. Before the presidency, he's never truly challenged himself. Instead, every single position he's held, he's used as a stepping-stone for the next level. He's never even tried to do much in any position, just playing it safe and not taking any chances of failing in a way that would dampen his upward progress.

Which is a damned shame, because he's held jobs where he could have made an actual difference. But that would have meant involving himself, putting himself out there, taking stands and showing leadership.

Well, now it's all come together. He's achieved his final goal, the presidency. Now he can finally put aside his temerity and actually achieve things.

But the guy has no clue what to do. He's the ultimate post turtle. And he just can't figure out how to stop campaigning and start governing.

The presidency is the ultimate "on the job training" role. There is nothing that can fully prepare someone for the office. But there are other positions where one can pick up the skills necessary for success -- leadership, management, decision-making.

None of which Obama has ever demonstrated.

Maybe he should give being "chief of staff" a whirl. At this point, I'm not convinced that Joe Biden would be any worse.

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Comments (18)

I know we're all supposed t... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

I know we're all supposed to be impressed with everything Obama's done in the past - his community activism, his management of the Annenburg Challenge, his 'success' with Grove Parc as a state senator, his record as a US senator... not to mention the numerous papers and theses he wrote (well, he must have, right? To graduate?) that are so astoundingly brilliant and marvelously reasoned that they've been classifed in order to keep from intimidating future generations of aspiring freshmen. (That his college transcripts haven't been released only bolsters that theory.)

So to imply that Obama's a third-rate, talentless, low-level functionary that's been promoted way above the level of his mediocre ability simply flies in the face of all demonstrated fact, Jay Tea. I don't know HOW you'd ever be able to convince people that Obama simply doesn't have the chops for the job, given his marvelous successes in the realms of finance, statesmanship, and international diplomacy.

;-)

Oh, and I forgot to mention... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Oh, and I forgot to mention that he's not only an Iron Chef in his spare time, and is secretly the Stig on Top Gear, but when he visted Mt. Rushmore he got into a staredown with Washington.

And Washington blinked.

Obama is teh awesomest! LOL.

So dead on to be actually f... (Below threshold)
Michael Lang:

So dead on to be actually frightning.

I think its time to have a ... (Below threshold)
epador:

I think its time to have a whole thread of twisted Chuck Norris lines that describe The One. JL started it!

there was a quote from Rome... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

there was a quote from Romer I believe that said Obama had never actually had a 9 to 5 job, ever ... it shows ...

Guns don't kill people, Oba... (Below threshold)
epador:

Guns don't kill people, Obama's policies do.
Obama doesn't write for teleprompters, he scares the words out with his nosehairs.
Obama can waffle so fast he can contradict what he hasn't said yet.

Sorry, guys, but Ace Of Spa... (Below threshold)

Sorry, guys, but Ace Of Spades OWNS that genre. Example 1:

While on a sex-spree in a Tijuana whorehouse, Dick Cheney used a live cougar as a condom.

The bodycount was fourteen Mexican whores and one cougar.

In Tijuana, they refer to this as "The Night of the Sodomizing Cougar-Man."

Dick Cheney refers to it as "last Thursday."

That bar will NEVER be topped.

J.

Some time back there was a ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Some time back there was a 'news' article concerning Rahm's appointment as Chief of Staff. At the time Barry admitted that he lacked the drive and discipline to stay focused on a particular issue - and needed someone like Rahm.

Truer words were never spoken.

One of my roommates in coll... (Below threshold)
Joe Miller:

One of my roommates in college was from Ethiopia. He went to high school here. In college he majored in African-American studies. I proofread his papers from time to time. His writing was mostly incomprehensible. Yet he always got A's and A+'s on these papers. I believe Obama's life has been exactly like my roommate's. My roommate even grayed his hair when the situation called for a more mature look.

And that my friends is why ... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

And that my friends is why we are all screaming as we sit in the back of the economic bus as that ignorant narcissistic bastard drives the economy over the financial cliff.

Leadership is defined as being able to MAKE decisions under duress that are going to benefit the ENTIRE organization in the long run, just not certain favored parts for immediate self gratification.

The (P)resident is a cheap empty suit.

I have a couple of comments... (Below threshold)
Rick Caird:

I have a couple of comments on this. First, we keep being told by people such as Valerie Jarrett that Obama is the "smartest guy in the room". I have never seen any evidence of that nor have I ever seen any evidence he has more that a passing knowledge of any topic germane to his job. If Obama were demonstrably smart, we would be inundated with examples such as his grades at Columbia, the success of the Annenberg Challenge, or his published works as President of the Harvard Law Review. But, instead we get nothing, not even a birth certificate. What is this mystery all about? Why is there so little record of the "smartest guy in the room"?

Second, recently there was an article about a meeting Obama had about jobs. He is reported to have complained that no one brought him anything he could get "excited" about. But, most of his job is not about 50 yard runs and 75 yard interceptions. It is about blocking and tackling so he is in a position for the big play. But, I see nothing in the Obama resume that shows he ever learned the basics of any job he every had. The Obama career is all about the next step. Consequently, he is woefully unprepared for any part of his job as President and it shows. He cannot even seem to appoint smart people. Rather he settles for political and ideological hacks. The longer Obama is in office, the more things go wrong and the poorer his response.

Woe be to us if he and his teleprompter get reelected.

Just in the real world of b... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Just in the real world of business, when you interview a person for a leadership position, you focus on the accomplishments the person seeking the job had achieved. You then drill down asking for how he achieved them, why was it needed, how did it come to his or her attention and so on. I, and just about every other sane person who works knew this clown had no resume. Nothing. Nada. Squat. What did people, even the MSM think was going to happen? We got exactly what was elected. An inexperienced, empty suit who doesn't have a clue. ww

If Obama were demonstrab... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

If Obama were demonstrably smart, we would be inundated with examples such as his grades at Columbia, the success of the Annenberg Challenge, or his published works as President of the Harvard Law Review.

He keeps this quiet because he's modest, too.

I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

The resident lefties would ... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

The resident lefties would be here to defend their hero, but the talking points memo hasn't arrived yet and they aren't sharp enough to invent his accomplishments on their own.

They can always take a leaf... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

They can always take a leaf from their compatriots, and say Obama shot half a dozen holes in one on his first golf outing, or swam the Potomac at 30 mph.

It's no more ridiculous than saying he's married to the most beautiful woman in the world.

Well, well! The man onc... (Below threshold)
gaius piconius:

Well, well! The man once thought to be a high Bramin is, in fact, nothing more than an untouchable.

"...I would be lousy in ... (Below threshold)
John S:

"...I would be lousy in a fast-food restaurant..."

You'd be surprised, Jay, at what you can do when you have no choice. Wait until our asinine "free-trade" policies send another 100 million full-time jobs overseas.

Barak Hussein Obama: Americ... (Below threshold)
John S:

Barak Hussein Obama: America learns a grave lesson on why affirmative action is a stupid idea. On the one thing he does care about, the spread of radical fundamental Islam around the world, Obama is enjoying success. Just how successful will be terrifyingly clear in a few weeks.




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