The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Low Information Leadership

Today, in a speech in front of an ultra-Liberal audience, Barack Obama left healthcare behind and tried to pivot to a topic that is a favorite among that audience—income inequality. This class warfare meme resonates with Obama's Leftist base, but it will not deflect attention from the ever-growing disaster that is Obamacare—a clear example of big government run amuck.

Peggy Noonan, in a long essay on Obama and the legislative "achievement" that bears his name, discusses how things could go so wrong:
It’s a leader’s job to be skeptical of grand schemes. Sorry, that’s a conservative leader’s job. It is a liberal leader’s job to be skeptical that grand schemes will work as intended. You have to guide and goad and be careful.

And this president wasn’t. I think part of the reason he wasn’t careful is because he sort of lives in words. That’s been his whole professional life—books, speeches. Say something and it magically exists as something said, and if it’s been said and publicized it must be real. He never had to push a lever, see the machine not respond, puzzle it out and fix it. It’s all been pretty abstract for him, not concrete. He never had to stock a store, run a sale and see lots of people come but the expenses turn out to be larger than you’d expected and the profits smaller, and you have to figure out what went wrong and do better next time.

People say Mr. Obama never had to run anything, but it may be more important that he never worked for the guy who had to run something, and things got fouled up along the way and he had to turn it around. He never had to meet a payroll, never knew that stress. He probably never had to buy insurance! And you know, his policies were probably gold-plated—at the law firm, through his wife’s considerable hospital job, in the Illinois Legislature, in the U.S. Senate. Those guys know how to take care of themselves! Maybe he felt guilty. Maybe that’s to his credit, knowing he was lucky. Too bad he didn’t know what he didn’t know, like how every part has to work for a complicated machine to work.
This is an accurate assessment, but in my view it's too kind. This president lied blatantly, repeatedly, and cynically—misleading the American people about Obamacare, its intent, and worst of all, its bearing on his re-election. There's a reason he postponed implementation of the A.C.A. until 2013, and it was because he knew that insurance policies would be lost, that the law was incoherent, and that anger would grow, and then grow some more. And if he didn't know? That's just not a reasonable question for a president who has been described as "the smartest guy in the room."

Noonan continues:
Commentators like to decry low-information voters—the stupid are picking our leaders. I think the real problem is low-information leaders. They have so little experience of life and have so much faith in magic—in media, in words—that they don’t understand people will get angry at you when you mislead them, and never see you the same way again.
Before presidential election in 2008, some of us saw past the carefully constructed image of Barack Obama and examined the man, his associations, his experience, his accomplishments, and his character. At the time, I called Barack Obama a "cypher"—a back bench politician with few tangible accomplishments but big questions about his background, experience, and character. He is a cypher no more.