Woodward: "Gaps" in Obama's leadership nearly led to fiscal disaster

Barack Obama wants a second term as President, but was he up for even the one term he’s already had? Bob Woodward tells ABC News that significant “gaps” still exist in Obama’s leadership skills, and that he’s primarily the one to blame for the exacerbated partisanship that exists in Washington. Even Democrats admit that at times, “no one is running Washington”:

Woodward’s reporting in his new book, “The Price of Politics,” reveals a president whom he said lacked the “stamina” in turning personal relationships with congressional leaders into action the way some of his predecessors have done.

“President Clinton, President Reagan. And if you look at them, you can criticize them for lots of things. They by and large worked their will,” Woodward told Sawyer.”On this, President Obama did not.” …

“I am not ducking this. I am weighing evidence, and there’s evidence that he got on top of a lot of things, he did a lot of things. And there’s evidence that there are gaps,” he said. “He did not fix this.”

Woodward places particular blame for the failure to reach a deal with Obama, writing that the seeds of discord were planted early in his administration. He displayed “two sides” of his personality in early meetings with congressional leaders, Woodward said.

“There’s this divided-man quality to President Obama always. Initially he meets with the congressional leaders, he says you know, ‘We’re going to be accommodating, we’re going to listen, we’re going to talk, we’re going to compromise,” Woodward said.

“But then they — Republicans ask some questions and challenge him a little bit and he says, ‘Look I won. I’m in charge here,’ ” Woodward continued. “And the Republicans feel totally isolated and ostracized. And this was the beginning of a war.”

That’s what makes Obama’s assertion that a victory in November will give him an opening to “pop the blister” of polarization so laughable.  He’s responsible for much of that polarization anyway, and he has had at least a few opportunities to reach out and work with Republicans, especially on the 2009 stimulus package and again after the 2010 midterms.  He refused to meaningfully engage; Obama wanted Republican capitulation, not compromise, to the extent that even Democratic leaders in Congress ended up bypassing him altogether in the budget deal last year.  The blister is in the Oval Office, not the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Jazz Shaw Dec 01, 2021 11:01 AM ET