As usual, my liberal friends are conflating two different Obamas—the campaigner and the president—and in doing so, they are missing an important point. Obama has a political sense, but he lacks an executive sense. He is a happy warrior on the campaign trail, doing and saying whatever it takes to get elected, including lying shamelessly about his opponent. But when he leaves the hustings for the Oval Office, he becomes a different person, one who derives no joy from the cut and thrust of day-to-day politics and is inept in the arts of management and governance.
This explains the bullying, divisiveness, and extreme partisanship that have typified the operation of the White House since Obama took office. And it explains why, given Obama’s arrogance, his sense of superiority, and his air of haughtiness, his second term is likely to be a retread of his first. Tom Daschle, the former Democratic Senate majority leader and Obama confidant, put it best when he said: “Don’t expect a personality transplant with Obama.”
Coming off an ugly, divisive campaign, America is likely to get not just four more years of Obama, but four worse years. Obama won the election with fewer votes than in 2008. By any measure, it was a status quo election, and yet Obama is now facing a slew of problems that would test the mettle of a far more able chief executive—everything from the debacle in Benghazi and the Petraeus sex scandal to the fiscal cliff and the possibility of a double-dip recession.
What’s more, Obama is entering these dangerous times at the very moment when the team that put him in charge is breaking up. In the coming weeks, key members of his inner circle, including chief strategist David Axelrod, senior adviser David Plouffe and campaign manager Jim Messina, are all departing for the private sector. The only member of his consiglieri who will be back for a second term is Valerie Jarrett, a hard left-winger who is hardly known for her political perspicacity and the quality of her advice.
Because of Obama’s detached and impersonal leadership style, no one in Congress fears him, and the Republicans who control the House are unlikely to roll over and do his bidding.
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