CNN’s John King reported Sunday that some Democrats are privately “scathing” in their assessment of President Obama, calling him “detached” and “incompetent.”
King has always been, despite some recent mistakes, first and foremost a good reporter. He picks up the phone and talks to people around town. I used to hear him doing exactly this when I sat around the corner from the CNN booth at the White House, although to my deep regret he usually closed the glass door and all I could pick up was mumbling. And unlike plenty of talking heads, he knows what he’s talking about when he opens his mouth.
So I’m sure what he’s saying is true. Beyond Obama worship, the first instinct of Democrats is self-preservation. And they will need an at least marginally effective president over the next three years to self-preserve.
But unfortunately, so does the country.
I don’t know if he’s exactly bored with the presidency, but I don’t think Obama is passionate about it, and the job is too intense and demanding for passion to be absent. I believe Obama cares about issues, but that he lacks commitment and consistency.
Republicans think Obama doesn’t talk them. I don’t think he talks to Democrats either. Not in the sustained manner required to build and maintain relationships. Relationships are how stuff gets done in Washington.
And so lacking a connection to him, Democrats are turning on him.
Relationships have never been Obama’s strength. His calling card has been to inspire, including staffers who do build relationships, and so did it for him. But this is no longer enough. Obama is absent.
And when there was an election to be won, Obama was more motivated to countermand his own character.
All this is fine, as far as Republicans go. They don’t need Obama to succeed with his program. Though, it’s true, there are certainly some bipartisan issues – like reforming the VA – where presidential involvement might help.
But Obama is disengaged with world leaders and world affairs as well. And this is dangerous for everyone.
To take one example, the most profound issue of our time is the possibility that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons. It’s not just an issue for Israel. An Iranian bomb will endanger the United States and prompt a worldwide nuclear weapons race and broad new avenues for proliferation to some very dangerous people. This won’t wait for a new president.
The only way an Iran can be prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon is through either crippling sanctions or, more likely – much more likely – a devastating military attack. I don’t think Obama has the stomach for a war with Iran.
This is a man who has always been defined by the next big challenge. After being reelected, what’s the next big challenge? Putting together his presidential library, I guess.
And so he goes golfing.
According to John King:
Forget for a moment that Republican outrage. More and more Democrats in key 2014 races are calling for the president to get a spine, they say, and fire his Veterans Affairs secretary.
And what more and more Democrats are saying privately is scathing, calling the president and his team detached, flat footed, even incompetent.
What strikes me, what Democrats are saying privately in the wakes of the Healthcare.gov problems, they see a president who doesn’t want to take command, doesn’t want to act fast — raising the competence question. Some Democrats who believe in government [are saying] this White House doesn’t appear to have its hand on the lever.
Listing various complaints about the competence of the White House, Politico’s Maggie Haberman adds, “All of this adds up to somebody who just doesn’t seem at all involved.”