Last September when the economic crisis first hit, John McCain’s reaction was to cancel his preparations for the first debate with Obama scheduled for September 26, 2008, at the University of Mississippi, and go back to Washington to do his job as a U.S. senator and to try to fix the problem. Oh, and he did his best to inspirit the country with courage to face and overcome the problem by proclaiming that our country’s “fundamentals were strong.”
Obama’s first instinct was to denounce the economy, destroy the confidence of American workers and refuse to budge from Florida. He went into drama queen overdrive about how he could walk and chew gum at the same time, until McCain shamed him back to Washington.
I was utterly flabbergasted at the time that not one, NOT ONE single commentator or columnist at the time figured out that the reason Obama didn’t want to postpone the debate and come back to Washington to do his job at a time of crisis is that he had NO IDEA how to do his job as a U.S. Senator and was scared out of his wits that the spotlight would expose his ignorance and incompetence.
Well. Today Michael Barone didn’t exactly make the connection between Obama’s histrionics about his superiority over McCain for preferring to advance his own interests and shirk his duty during a crisis to cover his total ignorance of his job as a senator. But at least he HAS worked out that Obama never bothered to learn how to legislate, despite eight years as a state senator and two years as a U.S. senator:
We knew [on Inauguration Day] that Obama was good at aura, at generating enthusiasm for the prospect of hope and change….
But it turns out that Obama is not so good at argument. Inspiration is one thing, persuasion another. He created the impression on the campaign trail that he was familiar with major issues and readily ticked off his positions on them. But he has not proved so good at legislating.
One reason, perhaps, is that he has had little practice. He served as a legislator for a dozen years before becoming president, but was only rarely an active one. He spent one of his eight years as an Illinois state senator running unsuccessfully for Congress and two of them running successfully for U.S. senator. He spent two of his years in the U.S. Senate running for president. During all of his seven non-campaign years as a legislator, he was in the minority party.
In other words, he’s never done much work putting legislation together — especially legislation that channels vast flows of money and affects the workings of parts of the economy that deeply affect people’s lives. This lack of experience is starting to show. On the major legislation considered this year — the stimulus, cap and trade, health care — the Obama White House has done little or nothing to set down markers, to provide guidance, to establish boundaries and no-go areas.
Obama’s primary talents are appropriating the credit for other people’s accomplishments and getting other people to pay his way and do his homework. He can read from a teleprompter. He can sweet talk, sneer and bully. He can campaign. But he cannot legislate. And as for his ability to govern — I wonder — I just wonder — what executive skills he would suddenly lack if he were permanently parted from his Blackberry.