The unlucky presidency of Barack Obama

“Why does this all have to happen now?” liberal media pundits now ask nightly, as one chaotic moment after another falls onto President Barack Obama’s desk and provides the perception that his administration is responsible for having a weak foreign policy.  Why did the borders in Iraq have to collapse now, at this point in history, now that we finally have a genuinely liberal president?  Why did Syria and Libya pick this moment in history to fall into chaos?  Why is Putin continuing to threaten the border of the Ukraine, with the Crimean Peninsula listed as an accepted bygone now, and why has our own Mexican border fallen into such chaos?  Why, now that we finally have a genuinely liberal president sitting in office, did the world suddenly decide to self-destruct?  President Barack Obama, they say, appears to be the unluckiest man ever to assume the office.

144944257_md_horiz_answer_2_xlargeWhenever an NFL player goes down to consecutive season ending injuries, as has happened of late with the left tackle of the Atlanta Falcons, and the quarterback of the St. Louis Rams, the debate begins: “Is this player simply unlucky, in a high contact sport that involves numerous injuries that he always seems to get the worst of, or is he simply injury prone, and thus weak?”  This same debate begins anytime a genuinely liberal, Democrat president experiences turmoil in his administration: “Did we expect too much of him, or is the office of the president simply too much for any one man now?”  Another possibility that these liberal media pundits may not have considered, writes President Ronald Reagan biographer Steven F. Hayward, is that some presidents are just crappy presidents.

Using the current situation in Iraq, as an example, The Weekly Standard’s Noemie Emery points out:

Replace Barack Obama with John McCain, Mitt Romney, or Hillary Clinton, and Iraq would be now pretty much as it was when George W. Bush left it, with no jihadist state formed in the heart of the desert, ready and willing to bring the war home.  When one thing goes wrong, it may be an accident, but when five do at once —Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, and our border— the man at the helm may have something to do with it, and a foreign policy based largely on John Lennon lyrics may be the proximate cause.”

She further points out that when Republican presidents fail, the blame is rightly placed at their feet, and they’re –at the time, at least— considered crappy presidents.  The focus of most editorials, most commentary on most news networks and most of the canonical books covering this particular Republican president’s tenure are all written from that premise.  When things fall apart under Democrats, however, the focus shifts to the “larger forces at work”.

The last time this “is the office of president is too big a job for one man?” billboard was erected occurred during the tenure of liberal, Democrat President James Earl Carter.  It was declared that: “The job of President is too difficult for any single person because of the complexity of the problems and the size of government,” pronounced the historian Barbara Tuchman.  “As the country goes to the polls in the 47th national election, the Presidency as an institution is in serious trouble,” wrote the columnist Joseph Kraft.  Political scientist Theodore Lowi said the presidency had become too big for even the likes of a Franklin D. Roosevelt. “Perhaps the burdens have become so great that, over time, no President will be judged adequate,” said U.S. News and World Report.  And Newsweek added, “The Presidency has in some measure defeated the last five men who have held it —and has persuaded some of the people who served them that it is in danger of becoming a game nobody can win.”

There was much more of that,” Noemie Emery continues, “But as President Ronald Reagan biographer Steven F. Hayward points out, this line of thought stopped being talked about halfway through Reagan’s first term. “There’s a .  .  . reason for that,” Hayward noted.  “The elite complaints .  .  . always abstract from the substantive views and actions of the occupant.  The possibility that maybe we have a crappy president” refuses to enter their minds.”

The gist of the liberal conclusion is that no one man could’ve influenced, or prevented, these five things from occurring.  The liberals usually don’t speak of these five incidents at once.  They usually prefer to take one of these incidents and compare it to other incidents that occurred in other administrations to suggest that they’re comparable.  “President George W. Bush didn’t do a whole lot of preventing of Putin in Georgia, and a certain event called 911 happened on his watch.”  As Ms. Emery writes, things will go wrong in every administration, but when five to seven (counting the war in Gaza and the recent “buzzing” of U.S. aircraft in international waters by the Chinese) things go wrong all at once, how can one avoid connecting the dots? 

The liberal conclusion then goes to the next logical extension that concerns whether Barack Obama’s election opponents, John McCain, Mitt Romney, or Hillary Clinton could’ve done anything different to influence, or prevente, these same instabilities from occurring in the world, and they state that those candidates would’ve been just as hogtied when it comes to doing something about them in the aftermath.  Stuff happens all the time, they say, it’s the random nature of our world.  Random stuff does happen in every administration, as Ms. Emery writes, but when they all happen at once it becomes a little less random and more about the man at the helm, and his signature “Don’t do stupid (stuff)” foreign policy.  

Historians love to play this speculative game.  Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, and others, have written speculative works on subjects concerning how American history would be different if you replaced some of the square pegs that may now be considered random moments in history that led to presumably inevitable conclusions.  One of Gingrich’s books asks the question what would happen if the South had won The Civil War?  A similar question, based on this premise, could be asked of presidents.  Would the country be that much different now, if James Earl Carter had defeated Ronald Reagan for a second-term?  How would the world look if Reagan, or Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy hadn’t won their elections and proceeded to “fight” The Cold War against the Soviet Empire?  The happy balance of aggression and diplomacy that occurred during these “nuance-drenched” presidencies make it now appear as though the fall of the U.S.S.R. was a fait accompli, but anyone that has read through the finer points of the history of The Cold War knows that the likelihood of it ending “less happily” was not only probable at the time, it was considered likely. 

And, as long as we’re playing this speculative game of describing history, as a random series of events that “happen to occur” regardless of who sits in the office, is there anyone that doubts that America would now look much different if Stephen A. Douglas had managed to wipe the name Abraham Lincoln from the history books in the 1860 election?  The latter may be a bit of an extreme to establish the point, but to listen to some Obama supporters, one would think that it doesn’t matter who sits in the office.  Stupid (stuff) just happens regardless, and there’s nothing one man, regardless his office, his stature, or his abilities can do to prevent, or rectify it.

Communist sympathizers have long been frustrated by the fact that their favored form of government has failed everywhere it’s been tried.  The answer they have is that it has just never been implemented properly.  Every time it was tried, in the 20th century, it had a totalitarian, unreasonable leader.  If this system of governance had a better, more charismatic, more altruistic type of leader, Karl Marx’s idealized vision (Nirvana) could’ve been achieved, and it still could be … If it can find the right leader.  Liberals have similarly lamented the apparent failure of the one they’ve been waiting for, that appeared to have all of the charisma, and the altruistic ideals to achieve their idealized vision.  But, they now write, we realize that we had “Preposterously high expectations” for a presidency that is now falling prey to the natural regression every re-elected president experiences in his sixth year.  In frustration, they now write that his failure must be a result of a system that is broken, that the country is now so polarized, and “the Republicans have become too insane to deal with”; and stupid (stuff) happens in the world, even with the best laid foreign policies, “and no one at all can do much about it; and people think that the president ought to be Superman and solve all their problems, which is really expecting too much.”

The fault for America’s lack of domestic and foreign policy successes between the years 2009 and 2014, therefore, must be ours.  The American people, apparently, put too much belief and trust in one man’s message of hope and change, and in the moment where our sick would finally be cared for, and that good jobs would finally be provided to the jobless, and the oceans would begin to slow, and our planet would begin to heal, and we could finally restore our image in the world.  If it wasn’t our fault, members of the media now admit that it may have been theirs for promoting the preposterously high expectations that the 2009 year would bring about a moment in time where we could finally come together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.  Or, if it wasn’t our fault, or the media’s fault, it is the system’s fault for being broken, or is it fair to say that it’s the stupid (stuff’s) fault for acting stupidly, or, as Ms. Emery states, it could be said that it’s “The fault is in the stars, in the cards, in unfair expectations —anywhere but where it should be.”{1}



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