Bret Stephens documents for Wall Street Journal readers a disturbing pattern in President Obama’s approach to leadership on thorny issues.
Is there a method to President Obama’s style of leadership, his methods of decision-making, his habits of attention, oversight and follow-through? In recent months I’ve been keeping a file of stories that might suggest an answer. See what you think.
“President Barack Obama went nearly five years without knowing his own spies were bugging the phones of world leaders. Officials said the NSA has so many eavesdropping operations under way that it wouldn’t have been practical to brief him on all of them.
“They added that the president was briefed on and approved of broader intelligence-collection ‘priorities,’ but that those below him make decisions about specific targets.”
—The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 28, 2013
“HealthCare.gov is the highest-profile experiment yet in the Obama administration’s effort to modernize government by using technology, with the site intended to become a user-friendly pathway to new health insurance options for millions of uninsured Americans.
“‘This was the president’s signature project and no one with the right technology experience was in charge,’ said Bob Kocher, a former White House aide who helped draft the law.”
—The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 28, 2013 …
… “Besides the Syrian government’s gains, there was mounting evidence that Mr. Assad’s troops had repeatedly used chemical weapons against civilians.
“Even as the debate about arming the rebels took on a new urgency, Mr. Obama rarely voiced strong opinions during senior staff meetings. But current and former officials said his body language was telling: he often appeared impatient and disengaged while listening to the debate, sometimes scrolling through messages on his BlackBerry or slouching and chewing gum.”
— New York Times, Oct. 22, 2013
“On Saturday, as the shutdown drama played out on Capitol Hill, President Obama played golf at Fort Belvoir in Virginia.”
— Washington Post, Sept. 28, 2013 …
… “The essence of Eisenhower’s hidden hand, of course, is that there was real work going on that people didn’t know at the time. If that’s true now, then Obama really is emulating Ike. If, on the other hand, he’s simply doing nothing or very little, that would be passivity, not hidden-hand leadership.”
—Eisenhower biographer Jim Newton, quoted in New York Times, July 15, 2013
“In polo shirt, shorts and sandals, President Obama headed to the golf course Friday morning with a couple of old friends, then flew to Camp David for a long weekend. Secretary of State John Kerry was relaxing at his vacation home in Nantucket.
“Aides said both men were updated as increasingly bloody clashes left dozens dead in Egypt, but from outward appearances they gave little sense that the Obama administration viewed the broader crisis in Cairo with great alarm.”
—New York Times, July 5, 2013
Perhaps it’s beneath someone with the skill and intelligence of The One to engage with the job duties of president of the United States.