Tag Archives: Elizatbeth Warren

The Eunuch Presidency

Like so many people on the left, The Curmudgeon often finds himself disappointed with the presidency of Barack Obama.  While he was never as enthusiastic about Mr. Obama as many of his supporters were – The Curmudgeon cast his own Democratic primary vote for Hillary Clinton – he was optimistic that an Obama administration could bring many good things.

And in fairness to Mr. Obama, his performance has been nowhere near as lackluster as so many on the left suggest it’s been.  The expectations of many were never even remotely realistic, and consequently, their disappointment is all out of proportion to reality.  That skewed perception is fueled largely, The Curmudgeon believes, by the underperforming economy, which has not recovered to the degree that most people, both on the left and on the right, had hoped (actually, once Mr. Obama was elected, the right was pretty much pulling for a deeper depression and willing to do almost anything to nudge it in that direction).

The reality is that despite so many people in Washington whose virtually every moment seems to be devoted to ensuring Mr. Obama’s failure, he has achieved some rather noteworthy successes.  The $900 billion stimulus bill, although not as large as it needed to be to have the positive effect on the economy that most people desired, was an impressive achievement in light of the inability of many in Washington to understand that with people not spending money because they feared for their jobs and businesses not spending money because their customers weren’t spending money, the only way to stimulate the economy was with public sector spending.  Some of the new regulation of Wall Street, too, is impressive – again, it did not go far enough, but it never really could when so many members of Congress are led around by the scrotum by Wall Street.

The rescue of the American auto industry also is impressive inasmuch as the right, which hates working-class people (while demonizing those who don’t work), was more than willing to let the auto industry die so long as it took its unionized workforce down with it.  In fact, the federal government may actually make a profit on its financial support for General Motors and Chrysler.

There’s also the health care reform law:  again, not the ideal plan, laden with too many compromises, but a considerable achievement that will almost certainly end up improving the American health care system.

Finally, there are Mr. Obama’s overseas successes:  finding and killing bin Laden, helping to engineer Khadafi’s demise, and apparently applying just the right touch needed to help facilitate the Arab Spring.

So then what’s the problem?

The Curmudgeon believes the problem is that Mr. Obama never gives the impression that he’s standing up and fighting for something – for anything.   That perception is all the more troubling in light of the many others in Washington who clearly are fighters.

Harry Reid is a fighter.  The Curmudgeon can’t stand Mr. Reid and thinks he’s a mediocre man, but say what you will about Mr. Reid, he’s a fighter and he fought successfully to shepherd Mr. Obama’s programs through the Senate.  He deserves a good deal of the credit for Mr. Obama’s legislative successes.

Harry Reid, in other words, has balls.

Nancy Pelosi has balls, too.  She is one of the most maligned people in Washington, a condition exacerbated by her gender and the custom that secretaries of state are immune from that kind of partisan sniping, forcing Hillary Clinton to take temporary leave from her long-time position atop Maligned Mountain.  Ms. Pelosi is probably even more responsible for Mr. Obama’s successes than Harry Reid, and at the heart of that success is that she is a fighter.  Nancy Pelosi, too, has balls – probably the biggest balls in all of Washington.

Republicans in Congress have balls, too – almost all of them do.  They may be wrong about virtually every issue and conduct themselves in a manner that is, when you think about it, pretty un-American, but they’re fighters.  Republicans in Congress definitely have balls.

Barack Obama does not appear to have balls.

This, in the end, is perhaps the biggest frustration for those on the left:  not so much the lack of accomplishments, because he’s accomplished a great deal, but the perception that Mr. Obama doesn’t have very much fight in him.  He never comes across as angry, as driven, as passionate, as willing to roll up his sleeves and fight for what he believes in.  (Of course, one of The Curmudgeon’s most trusted political advisors, when presented this thesis, suggested that Americans never would have elected the kind of black man who had this kind of public temperament.  She’s probably right, as she usually is.)

Instead, he’s constantly talking about bipartisanship, but that’s not bipartisanship he’s pursuing:  it’s non-partisanship.  He acts too often in a non-partisan manner in what may very well be the most partisan environment in the world, in a town where a lot of elected officials will reject anything he says or does – not because they necessarily disagree with him but because they view it as their mission in life to defeat him even when he has something good in mind.

Remember Mitch McConnell?  He’s the guy who publicly declared that the objective of his party – defeating Mr. Obama – took precedence over serving the American people.  Humongous balls, that Mitch; his pale only in comparison to Ms. Pelosi’s.  The truth is, if Mr. Obama held a press conference and announced that once he moved into the White House he had set up a small laboratory in the basement and had developed a cure for cancer in his spare time, Mitch McConnell would reject the cure and accuse the president of shortchanging the American people by spending time in his laboratory when he should have been working to address the economy.

In addition, for all his ballyhooed oratorical skills, Mr. Obama is a poor communicator.  Time after time he has utterly failed to communicate his vision and his objectives to the public.  This frustrates his supporters, who recognize that many people who seem to oppose the president might actually support him if he only managed to convey to them what he was trying to do, and at the same time it empowers and emboldens his opponents.

But most of all, Mr. Obama has failed to convey a willingness or a resolve to fight for anything.  What does he believe in?  Sometimes, it’s pretty hard to tell.  (Although it was certainly heartening to see his willingness to get in the face of Arizona’s silly governor on an airport tarmac recently.  There may be hope for him yet.  This contrasts sadly with his unwillingness to fight for the nomination of Elizabeth Warren to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  She would have been great, but getting her required a battle Mr. Obama was unwilling to wage.)

Of course, all we see is the public president.  For all we know, he could be a fierce and dedicated fighter in private and behind the scenes.  Maybe, when no one’s looking – it’s not as if there’s a White House press corps that does any actual reporting – he discreetly summons misbehaving members of Congress to the Oval Office and dresses them down until they’re on the verge of drowning in a puddle of their own tears.

But in public?  He’s cool, distant, almost neutral.

No balls.

It’s a eunuch presidency.