Fineman: Washington Establishment concluding Obama in over his head

posted at 8:53 am on March 11, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Newsweek has transformed itself over the past two years into the cheerleading section of the media Obamabots, but Howard Fineman throws a little cold water on the Age of Obama.  The meme of the Greatest Transition Evah has faded away as Barack Obama stumbles from crisis to crisis, and not just in finance.  The impression of incompetence has started to spread, and while his approval numbers still remain average, the DC establishment has begun to lose confidence in him.

Even as he delivers the bad news, Fineman still sounds like an apologist:

Surfer that he is, President Obama should know a riptide when he’s in one. The center usually is the safest, most productive place in politics, but perhaps not now, not in a once-in-a-century economic crisis.

Swimming in the middle, he’s denounced as a socialist by conservatives, criticized as a polite accommodationist by government-is-the-answer liberals, and increasingly, dismissed as being in over his head by technocrats.

Luckily for Obama, the public still likes and trusts him, at least judging by the latest polls, including NEWSWEEK’s.But, in ways both large and small, what’s left of the American establishment is taking his measure and, with surprising swiftness, they are finding him lacking.

They have some reasons to be concerned. I trace them to a central trait of the president’s character: he’s not really an in-your-face guy. By recent standards—and that includes Bill Clinton as well as George Bush—Obama for the most part is seeking to govern from the left, looking to solidify and rely on his own party more than woo Republicans. And yet he is by temperament judicious, even judicial. He’d have made a fine judge. But we don’t need a judge. We need a blunt-spoken coach.

So he’s “swimming in the middle” while “seeking to govern from the left”?  No wonder people have trouble with his competence.  I’m not even sure how Fineman bases his “swimming in the middle” assessment on policy or tone.  He’s allowed Nancy Pelosi to lock Republicans out of the legislative process on Porkulus and the omnibus spending bill, tacitly allowed Congress to pass the pork-filled omnibus spending plan, and has rolled out a half-baked plan to vastly grow government over the next ten years as a supposed economic stimulus.

That’s only swimming in the middle if you write for Newsweek, or Mother Jones.

People find him lacking because he keeps failing on tasks large and small.  Three Cabinet appointments have gone under in less than two months, as have other senior staff assignments.  He promised an economic plan from Tim Geithner during his first press conference, only to have Geithner appear the next day and say that the dog ate his homework.  The administration has still failed to roll out the details of TARP II, the auto bailouts, and the full plans for the mortgage relief plan, despite multiple promises to deliver them.  His failure to understand protocol during Gordon Brown’s visit embarrassed the US and the Washington establishment, which knew full well how insultingly Obama treated the British Prime Minister.

And what does Fineman write about?  What a judicious guy Obama is, and that that’s the problem.


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Comments

Wow – less than two months in and we are looking at an epic fail. I wonder if Obama ever had a plan on what to do if he actually won or even understand what the POTUS actually does. He certainly seems to be clueless now and it is only going to get worse.

tballard on March 11, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Obama’s the guy who affirmed he could “walk and chew gum at the same time” during his hands off approach to the market meltdown in October.

Well, he better soon spit out the gum, cause he’s stumbling badly.

caygeon on March 11, 2009 at 2:59 PM

A ride on Air Force One, a closed door with Barry, a set of knee pads, The Mile High Club dues fully paid…Howard Fineman is back on the reservation!

sabbott on March 11, 2009 at 3:16 PM

BO’s not a uni-tasker, either, Ed.

bluelightbrigade on March 11, 2009 at 3:26 PM

It is not only the Washington Establishment, they are late to the party!

Oxybeles on March 11, 2009 at 3:29 PM

Obama!
The only President who “hit the ground” and kept digging.

PappaMac on March 11, 2009 at 3:33 PM

And yet he is by temperament judicious, even judicial. He’d have made a fine judge. But we don’t need a judge.


A judge?!! A fine judge?!! You have got to be kidding!!! For what? American Idol?!!

Susanboo on March 11, 2009 at 3:38 PM

Its cute that you people say a man who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, while serving as President of the Harvard Law Review, and writing a New York Times bestselling book, cannot “multitask.”

benny shakar on March 11, 2009 at 3:43 PM

txaggie on March 11, 2009 at 9:52 AM:
Not sure if he would like that. An expression from when I was much younger was “as queer as a $3 bill”

OMG!! LOL!!! I still let that slip that sometimes, not around the PC crowd of course! Came from the seventies, when we were teenagers, and being of the other persuasian, was “fopah”(sp?).

Susanboo on March 11, 2009 at 3:46 PM

Its cute that you people say a man who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, while serving as President of the Harvard Law Review, and writing a New York Times bestselling book, cannot “multitask.”

benny shakar on March 11, 2009 at 3:43 PM

No offense to all the guys on this post, but men, in general, do not multi-task. My hubby runs a department of 250-300 people on a daily basis, and is darn good at it , and he does not multi-task to speak of.

Obama, on the other hand, cannot single task, that is becoming pretty obvious, pretty quickly. He just sits in his Oval office chair or stands at his “teleprompted” podium and bloviates, while all his minions, including Congress do the work for him. He did not write anything, he gave someone the “supposed” facts, they wrote it, he edited. Ditto with speeches and now policy, etc. He delegates everything he does. Gimme a break!

Susanboo on March 11, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Its cute that you people say a man who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, while serving as President of the Harvard Law Review, and writing a New York Times bestselling book, cannot “multitask.”

benny shakar on March 11, 2009 at 3:43 PM

That’s right. It’s absurd that you people would question Bill Ayers’ ability to multitask.

Doctor Zero on March 11, 2009 at 4:19 PM

P.O.T.U.S. – President Obama The Ultimate Savior

Can’t wait for his next S.O.T.U. (Savior Of The Universe) address…the one where we can actually “hold him accountable”

Onus on March 11, 2009 at 4:34 PM

Fineman chooses the only characterization (option) that offers any leeway: if 0bama is in over his head, won’t it be amazing, miraculous even, when the One overcomes his shortcomings vis a vis the executive office? Hmmm?

Whoa, there is optimism and then there’s just plain spin. Which explains why we are all so miserably dizzy from this minute to minute assault by the propagandic and sycophant and street sweeping gland that is the leftist media.

Clueless? Not so clueless, and this is all part of his “agenda”? Or does he have a mean streak a mile long because he is pretending to go after the super rich when instead it’s the middle class paying the price to the point that said middle class will cease to exist?

All the above, just don’t mention the other two options. Media is trying to cover his tracks, his butt in fact, on those other two facts, so of course he sounds like an apologist. Those are the duties of his job.

Jenfidel on March 11, 2009 at 4:37 PM

Its cute that you people say a man who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, while serving as President of the Harvard Law Review, and writing a New York Times bestselling book, cannot “multitask.”

benny shakar on March 11, 2009 at 3:43 PM

Sick to our stomach is more like it. There is nothing “cute” about the job Obama is doing. Nothing cute at all. This is a disaster.

petunia on March 11, 2009 at 4:39 PM

Well I hear there is a very important partying opportunity tonight… so you know priorities!

petunia on March 11, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Its cute that you people say a man who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, while serving as President of the Harvard Law Review, and writing a New York Times bestselling book, cannot “multitask.”

benny shakar on March 11, 2009 at 3:43 PM

Hopw friggin’ long is he going to run on being the one-time editor of the Harvard Law Review? That must be infinitely impressive to you, but 90% of people would just shrug, especially when Obama’s resume isn’t helping their savings.

ddrintn on March 11, 2009 at 4:46 PM

NEW YORK TIMES Published: February 6, 1990

First Black Elected to Head Harvard’s Law Review

The new president of the Review is Barack Obama, a 28-year-old graduate of Columbia University who spent four years heading a community development program for poor blacks on Chicago’s South Side before enrolling in law school.

Change in Selection System

Mr. Obama was elected after a meeting of the review’s 80 editors that convened Sunday and lasted until early this morning, a participant said.

Until the 1970’s the editors were picked on the basis of grades, and the president of the Law Review was the student with the highest academic rank. Among these were Elliot L. Richardson, the former Attorney General, and Irwin Griswold, a dean of the Harvard Law School and Solicitor General under Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon.

That system came under attack in the 1970’s and was replaced by a program in which about half the editors are chosen for their grades and the other half are chosen by fellow students after a special writing competition. The new system, disputed when it began, was meant to help insure that minority students became editors of The Law Review.

Stephen M on March 11, 2009 at 5:30 PM

[W]hen he was at the HLR you did get a very distinct sense that he was the kind of guy who much more interested in being the president of the Review, than he was in doing anything as president of the Review.

Oh! Sounds familiar! LOL

ddrintn on March 11, 2009 at 6:09 PM

Its cute that you people say a man who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, while serving as President of the Harvard Law Review, and writing a New York Times bestselling book, cannot “multitask.”

benny shakar on March 11, 2009 at 3:43 PM

LOL. First of all, Harvard changed the way their grades are done, to make them more secretive and subjective, around the same time they changed the rules for becoming an editor of the Law Review – all in order to “boost” minorities. His Precedency of the Law Review was about as pathetic as his Precedency of the US. The guy is clueless. His little “profit and earnings ratio” comment showed that he is dangerously stupid. Not only does he not know what “P/E ratio” stands for, he also doesn’t know that “and” never represents a ratio – which is something that every normal 10th grader knows. It’s painfully clear that the idiot messiah was pretty darned awful at mathematical word problems. I’d love to get a look at this moron’s SAT, or any math test he’s ever taken.

To the joke of his Law Review Precedency (First Black Elected to Head Harvard’s Law Review

By FOX BUTTERFIELD, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES
Published: February 6, 1990
):

Change in Selection System

Mr. Obama was elected after a meeting of the review’s 80 editors that convened Sunday and lasted until early this morning, a participant said.

Until the 1970’s the editors were picked on the basis of grades, and the president of the Law Review was the student with the highest academic rank. Among these were Elliot L. Richardson, the former Attorney General, and Irwin Griswold, a dean of the Harvard Law School and Solicitor General under Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon.

That system came under attack in the 1970’s and was replaced by a program in which about half the editors are chosen for their grades and the other half are chosen by fellow students after a special writing competition. The new system, disputed when it began, was meant to help insure that minority students became editors of The Law Review.

Harvard, like a number of other top law schools, no longer ranks its law students for any purpose including a guide to recruiters.

Magna cum laude for a President of the Law Review is pretty pathetic. Of course, magna cum laude for a Precedent of the Law Review was “impressive”. Oooooh.

What a joke. And the idiot messiah can’t do anything right, let alone “multi-task” … except for spout off marxist garbage. He’s pretty good at that.

progressoverpeace on March 11, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Stephen M on March 11, 2009 at 5:30 PM

Sorry. I didn’t see that you had already posted the article. I’ve been posting it for a long time, now, and just do it by reflex anytime someone brings up the idiotic Law Review issue or the magna cum laude fraud.

progressoverpeace on March 11, 2009 at 6:52 PM

“in over his head”

Fineman always was the master of understatement!

Lonetown on March 11, 2009 at 7:15 PM

Lurch! Screeeeech! Crash! “It’s Bush’s fault.”

whitetop on March 11, 2009 at 7:28 PM

progressoverpeace on March 11, 2009 at 6:39 PM

You have to admit he does a great ‘gaze into the future’ when he’s doing one of his prompter readings. He doesn’t look at the reporters..he lifts his chin, squints, and looks toward the back of the room, kinda like he can see things no one else can see, and do things no one else can do.
language warning

austinnelly on March 11, 2009 at 7:45 PM

He’d have made a fine judge? Only if you enjoy judges who legislate from the bench.

drjohn on March 11, 2009 at 9:32 PM

Hey; Don’t tell the main stream media; They are selling him as if he were the most intelligent human being ever born! And they believe everything they print about him.
I had a tingle down my leg when I first heard of Obama, but later found out it was just cold pee. I need more exercise.

Cybergeezer on March 11, 2009 at 9:50 PM

Hey; Don’t tell the main stream media; They are selling him as if he were the most intelligent human being ever born!

Cybergeezer on March 11, 2009 at 9:50 PM

That illusion is getting harder to maintain with every telepromptered “press conference”.

ddrintn on March 11, 2009 at 10:34 PM

Its cute that you people say a man who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, while serving as President of the Harvard Law Review, and writing a New York Times bestselling book, cannot “multitask.”

benny shakar on March 11, 2009 at 3:43 PM

I haven’t seen O’s transcripts and don’t know what the grading standards were at Harvard at the time to agree with the “he’s so smart” statement. And Jack Cashill has done a lot of work looking through poetry written by Obama in college that somehow found its’ way to the light, at Obama’s books and at Ayer’s books and he is firmly convinced that Ayer’s wrote/rewrote “A of H”. The rivers story is in both Obama’s book and one or more of Ayer’s books. If you twitter Obama can you please ask him to let us see his grades? Thank you.

journeyintothewhirlwind on March 12, 2009 at 12:48 AM

It’s impressive that Newsweek will do even mild criticism of the Obama administration so soon. But the fact that they call Obama a centrist says all you need to know about just how liberal the news media is.

ThereGoesTheNeighborhood on March 12, 2009 at 1:39 AM

I think Ron would look great on the $20 bill and remove that arsehole Jackson from it, IMO.

cyclown on March 11, 2009 at 10:51 AM

Hear hear!

I have long been confused by historians fascination with Jackson. The man was a disaster. (Actually, I’m not that confused… noting the other “great Presidents” admired by said historians).

mankai on March 11, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Jackson was a very strong president. Many confuse this with being a good president. I suspect it’s just that simple.

ThereGoesTheNeighborhood on March 12, 2009 at 1:47 AM

LETS PRAY HES A 1 TERM POTUS

AMERICAN VETERAN on March 12, 2009 at 3:20 AM

IIts cute that you people say a man who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, while serving as President of the Harvard Law Review, and writing a New York Times bestselling book, cannot “multitask.”

benny shakar on March 11, 2009 at 3:43 PM

Proof Harvard should no longer be considered a great good adequate a university.
.
The book was probably ghost written.

darktood on March 12, 2009 at 6:54 AM

Obama is over his head if we are looking for a capable POTUS. We should not be surprised. Obama does not have the experience and knowledge to be a capable POTUS. Obama is, however, a capable politician seking to implement a radical left wing agenda. Don’t lose sight of that fact.

Phil Byler on March 12, 2009 at 8:20 AM