Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Obama's Biggest Mistake

There has been tons of speculation on the various nuts and bolts of the mistakes or missed opportunities by Obama and his administration. I am convinced, however, that all these nuts and bolts point to a much more fundamental problem that goes right to the roots of his political savvy.

Unfortunately for us, Obama's biggest problem is what many people feared all along: lack of experience as an Executive. He is a very smart guy and he says plenty of smart, sensible and inspiring things. This will get him elected. . but his political savvy in the actual job of government comes from years working in the legislature where everything is behind the scenes back scratching, negotiation, good faith and compromise. These things are more than necessary as a member of a large body like The US Senate but the US President must play a completely different game and I'm not seeing that game being played very well by this president so far.

He knows how to give good inspiring speeches but he doesn't seem to understand the "bully pulpit" side of speaking where the speaker turns the voters themselves against the obstacles before him. He wants to bring people to the table and talk them into voting for his ideas but he doesn't understand the tactics of putting political heat on the stubborn ones with various powers at the President's disposal. Obama and his team are very good at getting deep into the trenches of congress but at the same time they appear to undervalue the tactic of using "optics" and "messaging" and "political theater" to GOVERN. If he controls the optics he controls the narrative, when he controls the narrative the messaging sticks better and he will keep critics and gossipy media figures on the defensive. He might even manage to sway people's viewpoints while he's at it. Like it or not, for better or for worse, "catapulting the propaganda" is the President's job.

This President seems to shrug these things off as old tired political tactics when they aren't. They are "EXECUTIVE TACTICS" separate and apart from the Legislative tactics he has been living in. Using legislative tactics as an executive is not a fresh approach, it is a confusing and muddled approach that leaves everyone unsure about where the nation stands. Open up holes like that and the rats will take up residence inside them and that's what we have today. . a big rat problem.

Imagine a movie director who suddenly became a movie star but he can't seem to shift gears. He is now supposed to be reaching us emotionally with a performance in front of the camera but he is still too focused his old tactics of using the lighting and shot composition. When you are an actor, you must let go of directing. Your job is to make the audience believe that there is no director and there is no camera. . there is only a character in a story. Get the audience invested in a character's story and they will follow without any need for fancy scenery, costumes and lighting.

My personal hope was that our newly elected President could compensate for what he lacked by choosing a White House team that filled the gap and taking their advice. Unfortunately it became his first oversight. What he decided he needed on his team was MORE legislative experience than he already had. He is now the movie director who became an actor and then chose a Grip, a Gaffer, and a Best boy to act in the scene with him:

Joe Biden: A Senator for 36 years. Tons of Ledgeslative political savvy. . . zero executive governing experience.

Rham Emmanual: His original chief of staff, was a master of legislative politics in the US House Of Representatives. Ironically, he now wants to be an executive as Mayor of Chicago but that's not where his experience is.

Peter Rouse: Interim chief of staff known as "the 101'st Senator" because of his experience in congress working for Senators and Congressmen.

Jim Messina: Deputy Chief of Staff, Former chief of staff for two senators and a congressman.

Mona Sutphen: Deputy Chief of Staff, Former National Security council bureaucrat. No executive experience in government.

David Axelrod: Senior Advisor, loads of experience in congressional elections and getting executives elected. No experience actually governing as an executive.

Vallery Jarret: Senior Advisor, loads of experience as a Chicago government bureaucrat and as a trustee of bureaucracies. No experience governing as an executive.

Not ONE person in that whole group of advisers and strategists who has actual experience governing, messaging and influencing congress from the Executive viewpoint. It is all congressional, legislative, experience. In Obama's sphere of experience, this was obviously all that mattered. That mistake is currently biting all of us in the ass. It's not that he isn't accomplishing things. It's that what he is getting done is often weaker and more confusing than it needs to be and the messaging about what it all means for the nation has been hijacked by rats.

We can only hope that he finally finds the insight to figure that out before it is too late.

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