Noonan: Where is the competence?

posted at 1:40 pm on May 29, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

In our earlier thread on Chris Matthews, one commenter asked why we consider the MS-NBC host a barometer of conservative opinion, considering Matthews’ deeply liberal worldview.  It matters because the disillusion of people like Matthews, who sold their audiences on the near-perfection of Barack Obama, are instructive moments to see just how far Obama has fallen in public reputation.  After all, conservatives didn’t fawn over a man who had no executive experience and spent most of his legislative career voting “present” rather than showing any leadership.

Well, most conservatives didn’t, anyway.  At least one who succumbed to Obama’s glamour wonders what happened to the cool competence Obama exuded during the presidential campaign.  Peggy Noonan’s column today in the Wall Street Journal sums up Obama’s biggest political problem — the perception of ineptitude:

I don’t see how the president’s position and popularity can survive the oil spill. This is his third political disaster in his first 18 months in office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning they were shaped by the president’s political judgment and instincts.

There was the tearing and unnecessary war over his health-care proposal and its cost. There was his day-to-day indifference to the views and hopes of the majority of voters regarding illegal immigration. And now the past almost 40 days of dodging and dithering in the face of an environmental calamity. I don’t see how you politically survive this. …

In his news conference Thursday, President Obama made his position no better. He attempted to act out passionate engagement through the use of heightened language—”catastrophe,” etc.—but repeatedly took refuge in factual minutiae. His staff probably thought this demonstrated his command of even the most obscure facts. Instead it made him seem like someone who won’t see the big picture. The unspoken mantra in his head must have been, “I will not be defensive, I will not give them a resentful soundbite.” But his strategic problem was that he’d already lost the battle. If the well was plugged tomorrow, the damage will already have been done.

The original sin in my view is that as soon as the oil rig accident happened the president tried to maintain distance between the gusher and his presidency. He wanted people to associate the disaster with BP and not him. When your most creative thoughts in the middle of a disaster revolve around protecting your position, you are summoning trouble. When you try to dodge ownership of a problem, when you try to hide from responsibility, life will give you ownership and responsibility the hard way. In any case, the strategy was always a little mad. Americans would never think an international petroleum company based in London would worry as much about American shores and wildlife as, say, Americans would. They were never going to blame only BP, or trust it.

In other words, the President has been voting “present” for most of the first five weeks of the disaster.  It’s not as if it’s the first time Obama tried to avoid responsibility for an issue or refuse to show leadership.  Many of us wrote extensively about Obama’s pattern of avoidance during the election — and suggested that Democrats try Obama in a lesser executive position first, such as Governor of Illinois, before nominating him for the top spot, in order to make sure he was up for the job.

Unfortunately, some conservatives such as Noonan rebutted those arguments, choosing instead to see cool competence instead of complete inexperience and a pattern of avoidance.  One can do that as a legislator with few ill effects, because in the end others will choose to lead.  When that person assumes the top executive job, especially without any experience and seasoning for the job, things fall apart when disaster strikes as they have here.  Only those who willingly allowed themselves to be enchanted by charisma and public relations could possibly act surprised when inexperience leads to incompetence.

I like Peggy Noonan; she was wrong about Obama, and she’s starting to realize just how wrong she was.  She also concludes with some first-class analysis:

What continues to fascinate me is Mr. Obama’s standing with Democrats. They don’t love him. Half the party voted for Hillary Clinton, and her people have never fully reconciled themselves to him. But he is what they have. They are invested in him. In time—after the 2010 elections go badly—they are going to start to peel off. The political operative James Carville, the most vocal and influential of the president’s Gulf critics, signaled to Democrats this week that they can start to peel off. He did it through the passion of his denunciations.

The disaster in the Gulf may well spell the political end of the president and his administration, and that is no cause for joy. It’s not good to have a president in this position—weakened, polarizing and lacking broad public support—less than halfway through his term. That it is his fault is no comfort. It is not good for the stability of the world, or its safety, that the leader of “the indispensable nation” be so weakened. I never until the past 10 years understood the almost moral imperative that an American president maintain a high standing in the eyes of his countrymen.

That is precisely why we shouldn’t have elected a man with no executive experience to the toughest executive job in the world.  We need strong leadership, especially in times of crisis, not a man who prefers to vote present rather than lead.  And we probably wouldn’t have elected Obama or even nominated him this time around if the national media had done half of the job vetting Obama that they did with Sarah Palin, an atrocious failure documented best by John Ziegler in his film Media Malpractice.

As I said earlier, I like Peggy Noonan, and I’m glad to see that the scales have fallen from her eyes — but she still gets a Captain Louis Renault award for being shocked, shocked! at the incompetence of Barack Obama:


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Come to think of it, that column by Krauthammer written just before the election could be profitably re-read. It’s here.

Contrarian that I am, I’m voting for John McCain. I’m not talking about bucking the polls or the media consensus that it’s over before it’s over. I’m talking about bucking the rush of wet-fingered conservatives leaping to Barack Obama before they’re left out in the cold without a single state dinner for the next four years.

I stand athwart the rush of conservative ship-jumpers of every stripe — neo (Ken Adelman), moderate (Colin Powell), genetic/ironic (Christopher Buckley) and socialist/atheist (Christopher Hitchens) — yelling “Stop!” I shall have no part of this motley crew. I will go down with the McCain ship. I’d rather lose an election than lose my bearings.

Bravo.

ddrintn on May 29, 2010 at 9:40 PM

President Obama is 100% competent. How some cannot see that is an inability to recognize what is going on.

His success is undeniable. There is more to come.

True_King on May 29, 2010 at 9:51 PM

Hey thar Peggy Lou.

Weren’t yur claim to fameness yur wurkin for da Gipper?

Where was da compatence? Ar yu a bein’ serious?

I been thinkin you twernt no smartur than a jar of can pickles in the pantry, but now you got yur lid loose enough to get some oxygen to yur pickles. I shor do hopes so.

PappyD61 on May 29, 2010 at 10:03 PM

Peggy, here’s a hint. When people apply for a job they typically show a resume that indicates their level of competence so the prospective employer doesn’t have to take the qualifications for the job on faith alone. Obama doesn’t have a resume that shows competence at anything. He does have a pretty smile though and nice clothes, so I guess you were okay with hiring him. Next time if you don’t want to be disappointed demand a better resume.

txmomof6 on May 29, 2010 at 9:16 PM

How sad that we have an entire class of “conservative” pundits who can’t comprehend this basic point. It appears that the lot of them have never held any position of real responsibility, and perhaps have never even had to apply for a job themselves, so they don’t understand the process.

funky chicken on May 29, 2010 at 10:21 PM

Competence and Barry are antonyms.

bayview on May 29, 2010 at 10:27 PM

This song is dedicated to you Peggy.

Well, I lay my head on the railroad track
Waiting on the double E
But the train don’t run by here no more
Poor, poor pitiful me

Poor, poor pitiful me
Poor, poor pitiful me
Oh, these boys won’t let me be
Lord, have mercy on me
Woe, woe is me

Well, I met a man out in Hollywood
Now I ain’t naming names
Well he really worked me over good
Just like Jesse James

Yes, he really worked me over good
He was a credit to his gender
Put me through some changes, Lord
Sort of like a waring blender

Poor, poor pitiful me
Poor, poor pitiful me
Oh, these boys won’t let me be
Lord, have mercy on me
Woe woe is me

Well, I met a boy in the Vieux Carres
Down in Yokohama
He picked me up and he threw me down
He said, “Please don’t hurt me, mama”

Poor, poor pitiful me
Poor, poor pitiful me
Oh, these boys won’t let me be
Lord, have mercy on me
Woe woe is me

b1jetmech on May 29, 2010 at 10:30 PM

You don’t win elections by turning your back and shoving away the Peggy Noonans of the world.

MikeknaJ on May 29, 2010 at 2:40 PM

If the Noonans of the world need me to love them in order to get them to swim to the shore, how the hell is that my fault?

You’ve got it all wrong.

Saltysam on May 29, 2010 at 10:31 PM

I don’t give a rat’s end what Peg or Bucks or Chatty Kathy, or the rest of the degenerates that voted for that pig have to say until every last one of those sphincters get on their knees (no,not for what they gave Obama…) and BEG for forgiveness for being such fools and scoundrel quislings, party to this catastrophe that IS the Obama Present-acy and Most Degenerate Congress EVER.

Screw ‘em. They switched boats, let ‘em go down with the one they’re on now.

SuperCool on May 29, 2010 at 10:40 PM

While I am glad people are coming to their senses. I am not going to take their opinions seriously in the future.

Slowburn on May 29, 2010 at 10:42 PM

I am shocked, Miss Noonan, that you think Mr. Obama thinks we are indispensable. Quite the contrary, my dear.

AshleyTKing on May 29, 2010 at 11:28 PM

Oh my God. We’ve have Chance Gardener as President.

J_Crater on May 29, 2010 at 11:29 PM

What is happening is the Clinton supporters are getting more bold and vocal to denounce Obama. They smell blood and are starting to bite. Don’t be surprised for Carville to have a lead role pushing Hillary in 2012 primaries.

More and more Democrats are beginning to realize they got snookered in supporting an empty suit with a nice voice and face. Pres Obama is who he is – he can’t help it – basically a guy with no experience or work ethic. He would much rather be watching and playing basketball. It is the media who is at fault for not thoroughly vetting him.

Texas Mike on May 29, 2010 at 11:33 PM

Next time we need to elect a governor. One who has served more than one term. One who has had to work with a democrat legislature. One who worked as a servant for the people. Gov Huckabee would be a great POTUS. I hope he runs in 2012.

texasconserv on May 29, 2010 at 11:36 PM

Do you think the elitist, Peggy Noonan, would ever talk about her own flaw? Her own misguided support of Obama? No, sadly she takes the very low road and begins to tear down what she and other elitists built up. Such a tragedy. DD

Darvin Dowdy on May 30, 2010 at 12:28 AM

Screw ‘em. They switched boats, let ‘em go down with the one they’re on now.
SuperCool on May 29, 2010 at 10:40 PM

+100
She and her misguided minions influenced too many squishy sheeple to elect this clown.

HellCat on May 30, 2010 at 12:59 AM

Me thinks Noonan got too caught up in her “Patriotic Grace” and truly saw Obama as this political saviour that was going to make Washington whole again.

Let’s see if this is Noonan et al really waking up to the nightware that has been President Obama’s first term.

SmallGovtGuy on May 30, 2010 at 1:31 AM

Honestly this is the Democrat’s fault.

With Bush’s numbers it was a Democratic year.

No one on the right could do anything by the time the Primary was over.

It was the Democratic Party that allowed the socialists to them take over.

Democrats didn’t used to be socialists. They should have fought harder to keep their birthright. Our birthright.

They sold it for a pot of porridge and we got sold along with them.

Noonan thought a competent Democrat would be okay. Her mistake, the country’s mistake, was that Obama is neither a true Democrat, nor competent.

He is a Socialist the kind of socialist they would’ve called communist in the 1950s.

And we are probably better off in the long run that he is so incompetent. Because if his plans succeed, before we can retire him, it is going to be a whole lot harder to fix this mess.

petunia on May 30, 2010 at 1:36 AM

Forgiveness is divine

Stupidity is forever

Kini on May 30, 2010 at 1:44 AM

Peggy comes off as stupid and shallow… well, we already knew that didnt we ?

My advice to Peggy Noonan – if you are so concerned about your precious President looking like an incompetent fool, DONT PUT IT on print.If you really think the CinC of the most indispensible nation in the world is out of his depth, write him a personal letter instead of airing it out like this – WE ALREADY KNEW THIS and that was why we were screaming about it from the top of our lungs in 2008 – but people like you didnt listen.

Stand by your man,Peggy Noonan – if you dont, you make your mistake WORSE.

nagee76 on May 30, 2010 at 4:01 AM

I have no further use for Peg and her ancient bluestocking pals. Never again will I ever purchase a magazine, a newspaper or, God forbid, a book from this group because I now have no interest in not one word these silly old political has beens might ever write again. It’s time to replace all of them with the new turks who have proved over the last two years that Peggy & her boos are more incompetent and irrelevant than ever. No mater what happens to the senior writers for the new department of the Obama administration’s elderly fifth column, they will always have their new Obama heath care plan – at least until they’ve been told that, at long last, their services are no longer needed and please, for the good of the nation, just take that pretty pink pill and even Peg will soon qualify to wake up with the good angels and fairies once again.

MayorDaley on May 30, 2010 at 4:16 AM

Gov Huckabee would be a great POTUS. I hope he runs in 2012.

texasconserv on May 29, 2010 at 11:36 PM

He could not even beat McLame in the primaries. I do not want to hear of him as a presidential candidate again.

Slowburn on May 30, 2010 at 4:59 AM

Slowburn on May 30, 2010 at 4:59 AM

Nor I. I like Christie, Palin, even Paul Ryan. The country is ready–and desperately needs–a strong conservative. Especially if Hillary replaces Obama in 2012…we need to differentiate ourselves from liberals, not be “liberal light”.

Grace_is_sufficient on May 30, 2010 at 5:34 AM

I never until the past 10 years understood the almost moral imperative that an American president maintain a high standing in the eyes of his countrymen.

Typical Noonan preciousness, and dripping with elitism. Her “moral imperative” would confer a kind of royalism or expectation of worship to the presidency. A disrespected president who cannot maintain a high standing with the people reflects someting wrong not with the institution but with the man, and whatever “danger” that may represent for the country, it is better to suffer through it than suppress it. It is our body politic sweating through its fever, seeking equilibrium and health again.

rrpjr on May 30, 2010 at 5:45 AM

The problem with Noonan is that she chose to make her decision on Obama based on his ability to give a speech; It was her belief, although she would likely never state it, that he was similar to her old employer Ronald Reagan. What confounded Reagan Conservatives is that in no way, either politically, or in core belief or ability, does Barack Obama resemble Reagan.

The statement that indicates that Obama “voted present” could easily be seen as a State Senator–where he literally “voted present” to either disguise his Leftism, or exposed his lack of leadership–either way, Obama was in no way similar to the extraordinary ability of Reagan. Couple that with the fact that while “Off teleprompter” Obama is a confused and babbling shell of what he appears when reading a prepared speech. Reagan wrote a good portion of his own speeches, and you could tell it when he addressed the press. He never had a problem showing who he was, and did so brilliantly.

It is sad for Noonan, who was considered something of an inheritor of “Reagan’s word” and someone who knew him well, to see her lose that gravitas. We now see her for who she is–a lover of speeches. It is like finding out that a great “women’s rights” advocate was really just hitting on them for a date and telling them what they wanted to hear.

Sad, sad, sad.

darkmetal on May 30, 2010 at 7:12 AM

I never until the past 10 years understood the almost moral imperative that an American president maintain a high standing in the eyes of his countrymen.

You never understood, yet you worked how many years in the Reagan Administration, Peggy? I guess your use of “present” in “Present at the Revolution” showed early and strong foreshadowing of where you now are: weeping over your betrayal by the “present” man.

ya2daup on May 30, 2010 at 7:17 AM

To Obama it was always about the bling. He and Michelle with their parties and concerts, designer clothes and vacations. They are obtuse to the hard work of the Americans that provide it.

tessa on May 30, 2010 at 7:20 AM

This woman deserves NO credit for stating the obvious, which was easily statable during the election.
How can anyone give her credit for a good analysis when she was too stupid to see the writing on the wall in the first place?!

Badger40 on May 30, 2010 at 9:02 AM

Now that Peggy Noonan, a writer whom I formerly really respected, has turned the corner, she needs to deliver some hard hitting pieces on the president. If it is so damaging to the security of the world to have the president in this position, then he should be impeached for the safety of all of us. Get over the racial issues, impeach the guy and be done with it.

ted c on May 30, 2010 at 9:26 AM

There’s still hope for Peggy. She can blame George Bush.

manwithblackhat on May 30, 2010 at 9:44 AM

She has aged magnificently. It’s been literally decades since her role as Dr. Zira.

pc on May 30, 2010 at 9:51 AM

I guess that would make George Stephanapolous Cornelius with Chris Christie playing the part of Taylor and Rand Paul as the fellow astronaut who suffered the lobotomy.

pc on May 30, 2010 at 9:55 AM

Stupid cow got what she voted for.

andycanuck on May 30, 2010 at 11:13 AM

When I saw the title I thought she was talking about herself.

She should be.

archer52 on May 30, 2010 at 11:14 AM

Noone. No one.

Coronagold on May 30, 2010 at 11:23 AM

The first time that Obama does something right (may never happen) she will be the first to sing his praises again. She is an elitist. She can’t help herself.

libertylady on May 30, 2010 at 11:42 AM

PappyD61 on May 29, 2010 at 10:03 PM

That was funny. Amazing that Reagan’s speechwriter could fall so low.

TimTebowSavesAmerica on May 30, 2010 at 12:33 PM

McCain was not my first choice (or 2nd) but anyone who voted for Bambi, over a man who had proven himself under fire and with a long history of service to his country, was and is an idiot. If even I could see he was a zero why couldnt the people who make their living from politics. Just sayin.

faol on May 30, 2010 at 12:50 PM

This is what happens when you vote for color, not for character.

Aren’t baby boomers like Peggy supposed to know this already?

NebCon on May 30, 2010 at 1:33 PM

Shut up, peggy.

peacenprosperity on May 30, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Just staring at the front page and wondering…are Dowd, Noonan, and abandoned passenger Ginger McGuire long lost sisters?

ElectricPhase on May 30, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Obama is accomplishing exactly what he wanted to do.

You seem to forget, he doesn’t like this country and is trying to weaken it from the inside.

scotash on May 30, 2010 at 4:11 PM

The only way I would listen to Noonan again is if she publicly said, “Sarah Palin was right about Barack Obama all along and I was too dumb to see it.” But, the old hag would choke on those words.

bw222 on May 30, 2010 at 4:13 PM

“scuse me I’d like to finish my Bean Pie!”

JohnBissell on May 30, 2010 at 4:40 PM

As I am sure many others have noted the question of “where’s the competence” is one for us to ask Noonan.

Hey Peg – are you really a “conservative.” And you promoted Obama, defended Obama – trumpeted Obama – and now you’re having buyers remorse almost 2 years into his term?

Wow – you’re a journalist – right? Where’s the competence? You are as incompetent as he is.

johnnybgood on May 30, 2010 at 4:41 PM

Poor Peggy, So distraught over her “Epic Fail” Present-dunce Obama!
COOL!

chickasaw42 on May 30, 2010 at 4:59 PM

If Obama worked in the real world, he we be standing in the unemployment line now. What a cartoon, because now he is the President of the most perfect country in the world. I don’t blame Obama, he is what he is, a cry baby loser who is controlled by others. I blame the people who live here and voted for the a$$hole treason ba$tard. I find it funny that the so called smart people, who shouted out his competence, took this long to figure out what most of us knew when he was a Senator. It’s all a goddamn reality show, and Obama is the star. His presidency is nothing more than American Idol.

nwpammy on May 30, 2010 at 5:07 PM

Ed, you wrote: “In other words, the President has been voting “present” for most of the first five weeks of the disaster. It’s not as if it’s the first time Obama tried to avoid responsibility for an issue or refuse to show leadership.”

When has Obama ever shown leadership? It’s not an issue of his refusal to show leadership. The man has NO leadership skills! That is the problem. Everyone that supported BHO, including Peggy Noonan, had been sipping the Kool Aid, enjoying the glow of the great new orator and paying no attention to who he really was. ” Ye reap what ye sow!”

Can I hear an Amen? Amen!

tomshup on May 30, 2010 at 5:49 PM

The disaster in the Gulf may well spell the political end of the president and his administration, and that is no cause for joy. It’s not good to have a president in this position—weakened, polarizing and lacking broad public support—less than halfway through his term.

Sorry Ed, but this is not “first class analysis.” This is insane. Its a shame it took Obama 18 months to implode, if that is what has happened. Had it happened a year ago, we wouldn’t be saddled with Maobamacare and massive debt. The effective end of his political power is good for the country, not bad.

james23 on May 30, 2010 at 6:37 PM

I don’t see how you politically survive this. …

With a propagandist press and a pathetic GOP leadership team in place, that’s how.

Who thought a president could survive having sex with an intern… in the oval office. But Clinton left at over 60% approval and Al Gore a millimeter from the White House.

mankai on May 30, 2010 at 7:16 PM

Obama shows he can be tough on immigration.

Mr. Joe on May 30, 2010 at 8:39 PM

Who thought a president could survive having sex with an intern… in the oval office. But Clinton left at over 60% approval and Al Gore a millimeter from the White House.

mankai on May 30, 2010 at 7:16 PM

Bill skated on having a good economy for most of his 2 terms (the Reagan/Bush legacy) until the dot com bust.
And he was popular in the polls, such as they were, due to a compliant media.
As for Gore, if Clinton were so popular and effective, Algore should have won the presidency in a landslide.
We all know the rest…

Jenfidel on May 30, 2010 at 8:42 PM

President Obama is 100% competent. How some cannot see that is an inability to recognize what is going on.

His success is undeniable. There is more to come.

True_King on May 29, 2010 at 9:51 PM

Greetings my fine troll!

And Noonan needs to take a nap. At about noon.

Sherman1864 on May 30, 2010 at 9:44 PM

The gasoline prices are down right now. Keep them down and watch us get some recovery going. WHoever is at the switch on that needs to keep the momentum up. Soe of our local vacation areas are seeing an uptick in business becuase people can afford to go.

johnnyU on May 31, 2010 at 12:42 PM

Does this story about Rahm Emanuel and Stanley Greenberg, a principal of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, explain the delayed federal action ?

J_Crater on May 31, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Let me break it down. He promised her 8 inches, but she only got 5.

SouthernGent on May 31, 2010 at 8:05 PM

Mr. Joe on May 30, 2010 at 8:39 PM

Yup. I have heard things I shall never talk about and I tell the sources to join Beck’s 57 or 87 or whatever. If they are telling the truth, that is.

IlikedAUH2O on June 1, 2010 at 9:52 AM

Peggy Noonan may be brilliant & apart of the intellegencia, but her incompetence has jeopardized our nation.

mamagetsamini on June 1, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Next time we need to elect a governor. One who has served more than one term. One who has had to work with a democrat legislature.

Other than the one-term criterion, how about Chris Christie? He’s really shaking things up in Joyzy…

Steve Z on June 1, 2010 at 1:01 PM

The only way I would listen to Noonan again is if she publicly said, “Sarah Palin was right about Barack Obama all along and I was too dumb to see it.” But, the old hag would choke on those words.

bw222 on May 30, 2010 at 4:13 PM

Peggy Noonan’s claim to fame was being a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, who wrote most of his own speeches! The Great Communicator probably didn’t need her help!

But Noonan is enamored of flowery words and speeches, not substance, so she swooned with the teeny-boppers in ’08 before Obama’s empty soaring platitudes, while blasting Sarah Palin’s lack of intellectual “sophistication”.

With crude oil gushing a mile under the Gulf of Mexico, what if our Vice President was a former State oil and gas regulator and commercial fisher(wo)man during the Exxon-Valdez spill? Whadya think, Peggy, maybe such experience might be useful when we need to plug that d@mn hole?

Steve Z on June 1, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Peggy Noonan may be brilliant & a part of the intellegencia, but her incompetence has jeopardized our nation.

mamagetsamini on June 1, 2010 at 10:58 AM

FIFY. She’s not “apart from” the intelligentsia, but “a part” of it. But why does the “intelligentsia” seem to lack common sense? Unless maybe it’s not as common as we think?

Steve Z on June 1, 2010 at 1:22 PM

Go back to sleep, Pegs.

We’ll wake you when we need a RINO in expensive pumps to tell us something we already knew.

seejanemom on June 1, 2010 at 3:47 PM

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