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September 06, 2012

New Woodward Book: "It was increasingly clear that no one was running Washington. That was trouble for everyone, but especially for Obama."

The book uncovers an explosive mix of dysfunction, miscommunication, and misunderstandings," as ABCNews puts it.

Obama didn't have a Plan B in the debt negotiation crisis.

That's telling for a couple of reasons. For one, Obama continues to greatly overestimate himself. He seemed to think his charisma would be enough to secure Plan A (a massive tax increase). He was apparently so taken with his ability to convince people that he didn't bother drawing up a Plan B.

For two, this was an extremely important thing. Not having a Plan B was reckless disregard for the financial health of the country.

In the end, the "Adults in the Room" -- and I use that term advisedly -- had to simply exclude Obama from the process and come up with the godawful sequestration compromise we now have.

Obama got snippy about it.

As the nation's leaders raced to avert a default that could have shattered the financial markets' confidence and imperiled the world's economy, Obama convened an urgent meeting with top congressional leaders in the White House. According to Woodward, House Speaker John Boehner pointedly told the president that the lawmakers were working on a plan and wouldn't negotiate with him.

Obama, surprised, told Boehner and the others that they could not exclude him from the process, Woodward reports.

"I've got to sign this bill," he is quoted as saying.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid then said the four leaders wanted to speak privately, asking Obama to leave a meeting he had called "in his own house," in Woodward's words. The president, fuming, agreed to let them talk.

"This was it," Woodward writes. "Congress was taking over."

Another juicy tidbit is that Nancy Pelosi put Obama on mute as he yapped long-windedly on the phone about his General Theory of Everything or whatnot. She denies this, but Woodward has a source from other people in the room.

First decision of hers I agree with.

He also alienated people with his arrogance (BREAKING!), and thought Joe Biden was a capable enough persuader to be called "The Republican Whisperer."

Now, notice the wide gulf between Obama's belief in his ability to communicate effectively with people and his actual lack of most such ability. And notice that NYT hack Kristof gives Obama a B on the economy (a B!) but an "F" in communications.

Communications, the one thing Obama will admit to not having a godlike competency about.

But now revisit his certitude that simply jawboning Boehner would cause him agree to raise tax-breaks -- and he was so certain he didn't bother with a fall-back position.

Isn't part of competency knowing your actual areas of strength and areas of weakness?

Now consider this: Obama kind of sucks at everything, including golf and basketball, and also quitting smoking, but the one thing he's supposedly good at is communicating.

Compare that to the Great Liberal Meme that "messaging" is the one and only area in which Obama fails.

Doesn't this mean he's a failure at everything? He's even a failure at the one thing he's supposedly so amazing at.

Oh: Big speaker at DNC's (non-televised) panel on job creation?

The Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am.

People defend this by noting he's a businessman. Um.... not really. When you consider a business, the defining feature of it is the Force Multiplication factor. Things that are really "businesses" are involved in the systematization of services and crafts so that quality goods or services can be provided by its employees -- who are not necessarily craftsmen or highly skilled themselves.

While it's true that artists sign licensing agreements and such, the heart of what they do is a craft. Only they can do it. The Black Eyed Peas cannot franchise themselves. (Bands have tried something like this; it doesn't work.) They cannot set up a systematized, automated process to produce more anodyne, disposable commercial jingles. Well, I mean, they do do that, but it's not automated; they personally do this.

So he's not a "businessman" in any real sense. He's an artist, like many others, who knows how to sign the shit out of a contract.

That's not really a knock on artists. But their skills are personal-level crafts, and are not systematized so that lots of workers in farflung factories can replicate them.

A craftsman can be a businessman, too. But just because you make money at a craft doesn't mean you know a lick about business.

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posted by Ace at 06:34 PM

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