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