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Posted by on Aug 30, 2011 in Politics | 6 comments

Quote of the Day: Barack Obama’s Three Biggest Mistakes as President

GOPer David Frum, who does NOT march lockstep with his party’s talk radio political culture of the Tea Party movement, ponders Barack Obama’s three biggest mistakes as President. This comes into this context: it is now the consensus that Barack Obama has not been one of our history’s most successful or even inspiring Presidents — even to many in his own party. He seems the classic case of someone who runs a great campaign but has problems using not just the levers of power but the powers he personally has.

Here’s Frum’s intro and what he views as the biggest mistakes. Go to the link to read it all but your comments are welcome below:

Over at Bloomberg, Jonathan Alter poses a question to non-supporters of President Obama:

“Tell me again why Barack Obama has been such a bad president? I’m not talking here about him as a tactician and communicator. We can agree that he has played some bad poker with Congress. … (But) what, specifically, has he done wrong on policy?”

OK, I’ll play.

Obama made three crucially bad economic decisions in the first year of his presidency:
1) Obama deferred to Democrats in Congress on the writing of his fiscal stimulus. He fought for a big total, but he paid much less attention to what was included in the total. The predictable result: a stimulus that most economists condemn as very poorly designed.


2) Obama failed to mobilize the Federal Reserve to support his fiscal stimulus.


3) Obama bet his presidency on the best-case scenario.

I particularly agree with the last one. Obama assumed too cheery an outcome and was — and seemingly continues to be — stunned when the cards he got were not the cards he assumed he would hold.

To batter an old cliche to death:

“When we assume it makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me.'”

Or an unsuccessful — or at least seemingly on the ropes — President.

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Copyright 2011 The Moderate Voice
  • Dr. J

    I particularly agree with the first. Abdicating leadership and letting Congressional Democrats define a stimulus that was neither collaborative nor effective not only left the economy in the doldrums, it further polarized left and right. That in turn made health care reform more acrimonious and less effective than it might have been and sowed the seeds for the tea party reactionaries we’re blessed with today.

  • TheMagicalSkyFather

    Let us ponder Bushes big three mistakes prior to his re-election for a guide.

    1) unsuccessful at protecting the nation on 911
    2) invaded Iraq on false intel (some would say knowingly)
    3) the “mission accomplished” incident
    **He was also tapping US citizens phones but the NYT refused to run the story until after the election, so much for a liberal media conspiracy

    How about Clinton.

    1) failed to pass healthcare legislation
    2) passed a free trade agreement that resulted in the hollowing out of the midwest and rest of the nations manufacturing
    3) lied under oath about oral sex

    Bush I?

    1) savings and loan scandal
    2) raised taxes after stating many times “no new taxes”
    3) Clarence Thomas (more of a hindsight problem than a problem at the time)


    1) ran from lebanon
    2) traded arms for hostages
    3) Iran Contra though it didnt break until after re-election


    1) the Iran “incident” in all its glory
    2) support of those that would later be known as AQ and the taliban while trying to cause the USSR pain that resulted in our pain later(another hindsight one but a huge one)
    3) the malaise speech

    Hmm just from that list I think Obama’s mistakes look rather small and if you look at what he has passed, changed and shifted in the short time he has been in office it is actually impressive. Impressive in the volume of material and impressive that none of it really makes such a list.

    I would also note that Frum focusing on the Dems actions on the stimulus seems to think that it needed more tax cuts because that was the GOP thought and around what…40% of it was taxcuts? I would hardly call a guy that has ~50% of the public saying he deserves re-election “on the ropes” though I admit he is not currently as popular in the approval ratings. Gov is currently incredibly unpopular though and he remains the most popular portion of it, not really what I would call a win but an important point to put things in context.

  • DaGoat

    I agree with Dr J the first is right on and I would add to that the ACA, where Obama allowed Reid and Pelosi to take charge while Obama never provided a consistent message or leadership.

  • TheMagicalSkyFather

    My list would be different though I would keep Frum’s #3.

    1) The incident leading up to the beer summit (not a huge deal but one that really cost him popularity and did not need to)

    2) Not using the constitutional option during the debt ceiling debate and then shifting to actually still looking for a grand bargain but divorced from the brinksmanship and hostage situation

    3) Betting his presidency on the best case scenario

    As for Frum’s #1 and the ACA where as I do not like the results as much as I may have otherwise I prefer the results to nothing which is the other likely scenario. GOP and Dem office holders work differently. GOP POTUS’s say “do this” and GOP Reps try to give them their version of that and vote as a block. Dem POTUS’s give a vague outline at best because Dem Reps do not tend to support anything they had no hand in creating.

    For examples compare Clinton to Bush and where they succeeded and failed. If Bush had tried to pass a Clinton like healthcare bill(not the substance but a GOP version) the GOP would have supported it while Dems just got mad that it was crammed down their throat. If Clinton would have tried to pass the Patriot Act Dems would have eaten him alive all while the GOP noted that it harmed our civil liberties.

  • RP

    History always paints a different picture of a President years after they have left office. While Truman was not one that was highly regarded by many years ago, a different view now exists.

    Obama also will be graded differently once the long term impact of his decisions have taken root. While the stimulus, lack of a jobs bill, controlling the fed and betting on best case scenerios are in the target today, other things will grade him in the future.
    1. Foreign policy in the middle east once the new forms of government is known 10 years from now.
    2. Health care in the US and the cost being experienced 10 years from now due to the healthcare reform bill passed if SCOTUS upholds the individual mandate.
    3. The impact on commerce and governments interference on individual purchasing rights 10 years from now if the individual mandate is upheld.

    There are short term actions that president’s reelection is based upon and there are long term results that leave a mark on the country that people have to live with long after the President leaves office.

  • dduck

    I know you guys may not value non-specific small word count answers, but what the hey.
    1)- 3): failure to lead.
    Some specifics: Accepting Nobel Prize, HCR, Cash for clunkers, beer summit, stimulus, Bush tax Cut, deficit debate. And, yes the Reps did put up all the roadblocks they could (it’s politics, stupid).

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