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Obama: Dealing a bad term or dealt a bad hand?

Obama: Dealing a bad term or dealt a bad hand?

washington monument dc

In Washington D.C., From Hill to Hill

President Obama has seen better days. And while it’s far too early to write the final chapter on our President, it is time to start writing about the way he’s played his hand thus far.

On the one hand, sympathy. A great orator who came to Washington saddled the highest of expectations has been restrained by a lackluster and inactive Congress. That, combined with some more than unfortunate circumstances (see: the Benghazi disaster, the IRS scandal, the AP scandal, his would-be joke about an attractive Assistant US Attorney General… the list goes on) has made it an unbearably difficult start to term #2. But how much of that can truly be attributed to him? With his legislative goals hindered by a split Congress and a mixed economy, it has been tough for Barry O to find any positive momentum since his 2012 reelection bid.

On the other hand, let’s point some fingers – and they’re deserved. Who would’ve ever had the foresight to predict that a less than one term Senator from Illinois would struggle with legislative leadership? Who would’ve dared to mention that Mr. Obama was perhaps a few fries short of the Happy Meal he was trying to sell? The President has fared well with public leadership – the bandwagon had standing room only in the last two election cycles. But how much of that was due to the viability (or lack thereof) of Republican candidates? Obama swept voters off their feet but has left Washington placid and unchanged. As Chief Executive, Obama has failed to adequately lead and shunned responsibility under the moniker of ignorance as bliss. Rather than lead out from under unfortunate circumstances, he has his covered his eyes and claimed innocence – a strategy that, unfortunately, also didn’t pan out well for Butch Davis in Chapel Hill.

What’s tough to reconcile with are the successes that he has had. Accomplishment #1 has to be the successful assault and subsequent killing of public enemy #1 – Osama bin Laden. Though, if one is to assign credit for making the “go” call and overseeing the incredibly impressive work of the Intelligence Community/military follow through, then he should certainly shoulder blame for the other agencies he oversees (notably the IRS, as well as the Intelligence Community that tapped AP phone wires).

ObamaCare has been met with a temperature just north of luke warm – and all other talking points have been duds in the eyes of the American public, Congress or both. Gun control, immigration reform and anything resembling a political victory has escaped this administration.

Certainly, there is something to be said for a Congress that cares more about itself and party lines than real progress for Americans – a debate to be had for term limits? Or maybe Congressmen and women are simply mirroring what their constituencies prefer. Regardless, it paints a dark picture of the widening polarization of American political ideals. Either way, the President has not weathered the storm that has grown into a Category 5 hurricane in recent weeks.

The bottom line for Barack Obama is a classic case of under-delivering on a sell that was impossible to live up to. A too good to be true story – hopefully something American voters will learn from. The President was dealt a decently poor hand, yet failed to play it as well as his predecessors, the most recent of whom all had trials and tribulations of their own (yes, even scandals). Lately, Obama’s stellar rhetoric hasn’t helped him get out of those sticky situations. The veil has been ripped away by the ‘real world’ of Washington politics that Mr. Obama had little experience in.

Perhaps that’s the new normal for American Presidents. A country that demands enormous, unachievable promises delivered with sweeping wordplay just to get on the ballot only to find that the words were as hollow and undeliverable as the promises.

In the end, Obama may be more effective after office, than in office — a very popular figure abroad who could do very well as an ambassador for years to come. Yet, the player who came to the table has now endured the flop, is taking the turn towards home and is just waiting on the river to close out a weak and underplayed hand. So for now, let’s call it like it is.

image by paul-w via flickr


  1. Brian

    Ryan, well played sir…………

  2. Dan

    Nice Ryan. Great Commentary. Keep ’em coming.

  3. Debra

    Really surprising that you fail to mention the most obstructionist Congress in the history of America — one populated by people who seemingly have no interest in doing the job they were elected to do — legislate. All of the “scandals” you mention are meaningless BS concocted by Republicans to distract from the fact that they have done jacksh*t for 6 years. And dealt a bad hand? No one, other than FDR, has been dealt one worse. You wanna see bad presidents and horrible scandals? Look at the last 4 Republican presidents: Nixon (resigned before they threw the bum out); Reagan (Iran-Contra and more), Bush Sr (also tainted by Iran-Contra) and Bush Jr (lied us into a unnecessary war and crashed the economy). Really, dude, try learning a little history before passing judgement. I am not a total Obama fan but what he has faced is unprecedented and that he has accomplished anything — and he’s accomplished quite a lot — is amazing.

  4. Debra

    Now let’s talk accomplishments. Killing OBL was truly a little thing in terms of Obama’s work. Much, much more important are these truths: economy is rebounding, the stock market is soaring, consumer confidence is increasing, unemployment is declining, even the housing market is getting better and the deficit is shrinking rapidly. Obamacare is approved by 59% of Americans and it hasn’t even taken effect — just wait until it does and people will really like it. I could go on and on about the value of the stimulus, the Lilly Ledbetter act, the consumer protections on credit cards, the elimination of subsidies to middlemen on student loans to protect students, the significant increase in Pell grants, the financial reform bill, his record on gay rights, etc, His policies created more private sector jobs in 2010 than were created in the entire Bush administration. As for Obama’s intelligence, I don’t think there is even a question that he is extremely bright and savvy. As just one proof, he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review in a completely blind process (so don’t even start with the affirmative action lies on that one). Republicans didn’t lose because they ran a bad candidate. Republicans lost because the only thing they care about is the uber wealthy and Americans are wising up to that. Republican policies cause significant damage to the majority of Americans, and that is why they are a party destined to change or die.

    • paulko

      Consultant in DC? Give me a break dude, you have sold yourself out.


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