As I look back on the Bush Administration, it seems like a turning point was the Katrina fiasco. Until that moment, particularly in comparison to the preceding Clinton Administration, it looked like the Bush Administration was being run by grown-ups. They were the A-Team. But Katrina changed all that. Suddenly, in many respects unfairly but partly deservedly, the Bush Administration got hung with the label “incompetent”. From that moment on this was the frame of reference that we viewed all things Bush. The War in Iraq was mismanaged because the Administration was incompetent. His domestic agenda fell apart because he was incompetent. Republicans got drubbed in 2006 and 2008 because he was incompetent. Etc.
Moving forwards, Obama is somewhat famous for uttering these words:
“The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works”
It seems to me that Obama has challenged us to use competence as the yard stick by which we judge him. He wants us to ask: Does our government work?
At this point we are only about 60 days into Obama’s first (and hopefully only) term and I am starting to see many disturbing signs that our government, under his Administration, is working worse then perhaps it has in a long time.
First, there has been the question of his vetting process and the difficulty of filling his cabinet and lower level appointments. At no time in my memory has a President nominated so many people who later had to withdraw or were even reluctantly confirmed with so many ethical problems. Perhaps this is because all Democrats are unethical and this makes it very difficult to find one who is not. But I think the more likely explanation is that there is a high degree of incompetence in Obama’s vetting process.
Moving forwards, we are watching one of the most incompetent foreign policies in a long time. Our allies have been systematically insulted, the Russians were giving a ridiculously stupid button on it with the wrong word on it, we have breached trade agreements, etc.
I’m sure there are other good examples and I would welcome my readers to list them but I’ll just skip forward to the AIG bonus fiasco. It is now painfully clear, because they inserted language in the stimulus bill to recognize it, that the Obama team was aware of these bonuses and had every intention that they be paid. Their handling of this situation has reached a new low in incompetence with Democrats tripping all over themselves to see who can feign the most outrage and shed the largest crocodile tears. It has been one of the biggest bungles in recent memory.
When I measure Obama using his own yardstick of “does government work” he appears to be about 6″ tall and shrinking fast. So when does the media start talking about competence? Or maybe the better question is: When does the media start talking about incompetence?