Thursday, October 31, 2013

Where Does The Buck Stop In The White House?

Opposition lawmakers and pundits have seized on the White House's explanations that Mr. Obama was unaware of problems to accuse him of being a “bystander president.” Doug Mills/The New York Times

Where The Buck Stops, Some See A Bystander -- Peter Baker, New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Obama finds himself under fire on two disparate fronts these days, both for the botched rollout of his signature health care program and for the secret spying on allied heads of state. In both instances, his explanation roughly boils down to this: I didn’t know.

As a practical matter, no president can be aware of everything going on in the sprawling government he theoretically manages. But as a matter of politics, Mr. Obama’s plea of ignorance may do less to deflect blame than to prompt new questions about just how much in charge he really is.

In recent days, the president’s health and human services secretary said that despite internal concerns and a failed test run Mr. Obama was not told about serious problems with the new program’s website until it was rolled out this month. Other officials said the president was not aware that the National Security Agency was tapping the phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and other friendly leaders until this summer, although intelligence officials said Tuesday that others in the White House had known.

Read more ....

My Comment: A Russian diplomat that I know told me three years back that the perception among his Russian colleagues is that President Obama prefers to "do the President" rather than "being the President". At the time I defended President Obama on the grounds that I am sure that he knows the difference between the two mindsets .... and that he will be the President because .... after all .... that is what he is.

Now .... I am not too sure. He preference to demonize opponents rather than position himself to engage with them is now becoming all too predictable and (in Washington) unworkable. His influence and the prestige of his office is now being ignored on the international scene .... or in some cases treated with contempt, anger, and derision. And in the eyes of the American public .... the perception that many are now having is that he is not committed to his job .... and are now justifiably feeling negative on his job performance.

President Obama still has three more years in his term .... there is a lot of time for him to reverse this situation .... but one has to wonder .... does he have the energy and will power to change .... or are we going to get the same-old same-old for the next three years .... someone who does the President rather than being the President. Only he can answer that question.

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