On Schaeffer’s Beatification of Obama

Barack Obama painted portrait DSC_3641.JPG

Barack Obama painted portrait DSC_3641.JPG (Photo credit: Abode of Chaos)

A quote by commentator Frank Schaeffer is becoming a web-meme due to the efforts of Occupy Democrats. The paragraph, taken from a Huffington Post article Schaeffer penned in November, is a pocket panegyric to President Obama, and appears to be an appeal less to the Republican right (or center) than an attempt to woo back disaffected Democrats:

Senator Obama won scholarships to America’s top academic institutions, was voted by his peers to be editor of the Harvard Law Review, is a family man with an exemplary and obviously loving marriage, has a wife who is a brilliant charismatic woman, two lovely children, is a born-again Christian comfortable with his faith, has avoided making the fast buck in the new gilded age of greed when he could have, served his community, is thoughtful, considered in his opinions, slow to anger, proved right in his judgment about the Iraq war, the economy and just about everything else, looks at every side of a question before making a decision, and is not given to grandstanding let alone defending himself. That is who I voted for twice. That is who the president still is.

I include this lengthy paragraph neither to endorse it nor to refute it, but to demonstrate the degree to which public debate has been hijacked by the politics of personality. The endless ping-pong between personal demonization and political beatification is a waste of time and effort and, in the end, is the sign of a debater who has run out of arguments in his favor.

As far as Mr. Obama is concerned, those who have been his detractors since the beginning acknowledge scant virtue in him. Those who have been his most ardent supporters concede few if any of his vices. The truth lies somewhere between the two extremes, and we should leave judgment on the man to history and the Almighty.

Enough of the ad hominem politics from both sides. I stand in firm opposition to the Administration, but I stand with those who eschew the temptation to create heroes and villains, choosing instead to focus their efforts on hashing out policies, debating the thinking behind them, and framing a future for the nation.

Tobin on Fair and Equal Outrage

Aside

What we need here is not so much more civility—though that would be nice—but some consistency when it comes to outrage. If you think gays shouldn’t be subjected to negative or prejudicial remarks on TV, then try to be just as interested when people of faith or conservatives are given the same treatment. The same advice applies to conservatives. Selective outrage that is only generated when someone whose political opinions you disagree with crosses the line is what is really turning our public square into a verbal junkyard.

“Duck Dynasty, Free Speech, and Hypocrisy”
Jonathan Tobin

Commentary
December 19, 2013

via Tobin on Fair and Equal Outrage.

Jonathan Tobin Talks Sense about the Budget Deal

“Ideologues Shouldn’t Torpedo Budget Truce”
Jonathan Tobin

Commentary
December 11, 2013

We are starting to see more common sense coming from my fellow conservatives, and Jonathan Tobin at Commentary offers yet another example of the growing ranks of Republicans who are tired of playing juvenile ideology games with the governance of the nation. In an emphatically worded article, Tobin puts the Tea Partistas on notice that blocking the budget deal would be unadulterated stupidity.

Many on the right are also denouncing Ryan’s deal not just because it doesn’t give them what they want on taxes and spending but because they don’t see the need to compromise at this moment. They see President Obama’s poll numbers falling and think the time is right to push hard again for the kind of reform that is needed, not an agreement that merely kicks the can down the road. But this is the same kind of faulty thinking from groups like Heritage Action and Freedom Works that led conservatives to shut down the government as part of a vain effort to defund ObamaCare. Apparently they’ve learned nothing from that debacle.

That Tobin would name names, calling out the hardliners and risking open schism on the right underscores that we are in the advanced stages of a battle for the soul – and the future – of the Republican Party. The time for juvenile procedural games and emotional non-cooperation are over. Instead, it is time we won with ideas, intelligence, and logic.

Equally important, as Tobin points out, there comes a time in every debate where we have to compromise in order to allow the country to move forward, if nothing else to buy time until we have the legislative wherewithal to offer our own solutions (assuming we have some by then.) The country comes before our ideologies. Anyone who debates that is less a leader than a demagogue.

Leadership vs. The Bureaucracy

Obama: ACA Rollout Doesn’t Reflect on Management Style”
Sophie Novack

NationalJournal.com
December 6, 2013

English: Kathleen Sebelius speaking after her ...

Kathleen Sebelius speaking after her official nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services. President Barack Obama is standing behind Sebelius (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pacific Bull Moose endeavors to refrain from gratuitous displays of partisanship. We prefer to eschew tossing spitballs across the aisle, choosing instead to develop principles upon which the nation should be governed, approaches to its challenges, and policies rooted in both.

Presidents Lead the Government

President Obama’s remarks to Chris Matthews on the matter of his management style deserve a response, but ours is aimed less at POTUS than at a principle.

As the National Review notes:

“President Obama said Thursday that the problems that have plagued the first couple months of the health care law rollout are not an indication that he needs to change his management style, Politico reports.

Obama instead pointed to larger issues with the federal bureaucracy.”

As a matter of principle, POTUS is being disingenuous. Anyone who has taken a high school civics class can tell you that the President sits at the head of the bureaucracy. His constitutional role is to lead the executive branch of government, which includes the bureaucracy. An inability to lead the apparatus of government, to implement programs, is, prima facie, a management problem.

Implementation issues come part-and-parcel with any effort to bring about major change, and they have dogged every modern president for the past century. Dealing with the inertia of large bureaucracies comes with the job of President of the United States along with the house, the plane, the salary, and the benefits.

Bureaucracies do Stink, Regardless of Size

At the same time, those of my fellow Republicans who would jump on this issue and suggest that the president’s lament is a proof point for small government had best hold their horses. The problem here is not size, it is effectiveness.

Management guru Tom Peters once noted that “any organization larger than five people is a hopeless bureaucracy.” Big organizations come with big jobs. The question is whether those organizations are properly constructed, staffed, budgeted, and led to make them effective and efficient at those jobs.

Where the Buck Stops

Giving President Obama the benefit of the doubt, it is entirely likely that the Department of Health and Human Services is not properly constructed, staffed, budgeted, and led to enable it to effectively and efficiently implement the Affordable Care Act. But if that is the case, the failure still lands on the White House for not seeing – and adjusting – to that.

A fish stinks from the head, as my father once told me. We hold CEOs and boards to credit for the successes of their companies, and we hold them accountable for their failures. We do the same for leaders of non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, sports teams, and vessels at sea. The same is true for the Executive Branch of government

No sitting President of the United States, Republican or Democrat, can dodge responsibility for the actions and behavior of the constituent parts of the government. Harry Truman, a Democrat like Mr. Obama, understood as much, and made it a mantra of his administration rather than resort to blaming a bureaucracy largely created by and for his predecessor.

Our Response to the Shutdown: Fire Congress

English: Breakdown of political party represen...

English: Breakdown of political party representation in the United States House of Representatives during the 112th Congress. Blue: Democrat Red: Republican (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A degree of political maneuvering is to be expected in a democracy. Indeed, it is an essential tool in the legislative process, forcing compromise and often providing the means to forestall legislation that might otherwise be railroaded through Congress.

But when politics is allowed to stand in the way of lawful governance, politicians surrender the last vestige of pretense that the are serving the people. And at that time, it is incumbent upon the people to act.

Congress has failed. As a result, it is time for Americans to stiffen their resolve and send a message that will be remembered for generations. In refusing to return any incumbent member of Congress in the 2014 election, we will make it clear that no representative of the people, regardless of party affiliation, will be permitted to place partisan concerns above the need to sustain a functioning nation and of our national assets.

Politics is not a substitute for governance, and governance Job #1 for the Congress. When you don’t do your job, you’re fired.

Fire Congress in 2014, and send our national legislature back into the business of government, rather than the business of politics.