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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

On President Obama’s Watch

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Byron York points out that the AIG blow-up is wholly President Obama’s. The president demanded the “stimulus” bill which authorized the bonuses, and insisted on the rapid, no-time-to-read-it approach that left everyone guessing what was in the bill. From the article:

“What’s beginning to happen is his actions are starting to have consequences,” a Republican pollster told me. “And this is one of those. He hurried everybody through that process, and it’s now his actions that are causing things that people are unhappy about.”

Dissatisfaction with the president’s policies is the least of his early troubles. Peggy Noonan today delivered a gut punch this morning, telling us that two words more than all the others sum up early Obama: “coolness, slightness.”

These aren’t words associated with leadership. The rest of Peggy’s body slam has to do with the fear behind the fear. If the president has screwed up so badly on the rollout of his economic policies, even his friends are asking, how good can he be doing on the security side of the ledger?

Fridays are unpleasant for the Obamians, because it is the day on which Charles Krauthammer unfurls his assessments of the Administration’s pratfalls. Today’s column from Mr. K. is particularly sharp because it notes that the AIG bonuses and the Mexican truck issue are both trivialities that captured the entire energy of the Administration. The former has led to wild posturing by many and outright deception by at least the hapless Christopher Dodd, and the latter to the brink of a trade war with Mexico, and both were launched by the stimulus bill that nobody read. The virtue of patience has never been better illustrated than by the effects of its absence from President Obama’s first legislative “victory.”

The first 100 days has become a slog through unforced error after unforced error, and has produced a coming-together of moderate Democrats in the Senate pledged to stop further absurd flights of lefty fantasy. If that center doesn’t hold, the cap-and-trade and health-care work-over will get the same bum’s rush treatment as did the stimulus, but with even more devastating impacts on the economy.

The president is a basketball fan, and he should recognize his situation for what it is. He’s the number one seed that somehow –not quite sure how it happened, but it did– is down by 16 five minutes into the first quarter. Everyone on his team is a little dazed, but there’s also an enormous amount of time left. They just have to stop all the wild shots and play a disciplined game.

Even Secretary Geithner can stage a comeback, though it will be very difficult. Politicians caught in the riptide of ridicule can only escape if they don’t fight it but just do their job exceedingly well. If the Treasury secretary emerges from his office with a bank work-out plan that works, all will be forgiven. If not, he’ll be the Bert Lance of this second coming of the Carter years.

In a few weeks, I’ll be joining some of my colleagues from the radio in a series of townhall events on the first 100 days of Obama. When it was planned, I expected that we would be talking about Obama’s early triumphs and whether they were truly transformative of the American political landscape. Now I think there’s at least a good probability that we will be talking about how the relatively few moderate Democrats can work with the Republicans to stop even more ruinous missteps by an Administration that is, collectively, not up to the challenges of the day.


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