Obama’s Diminishing Returns

National Journal’s Ron Fournier is making sense:

It was a good speech about a modest agenda delivered by a diminished leader, a man who famously promised to reject the politics of ‘small things’ and aim big—to change the culture of Washington, to restore the public’s faith in government, and to tackle enduring national problems with bold solutions. … Obama seems to have surrendered to the limits of his most-powerful office. While giving lip service to unilateral action, congressional outreach, and mobilizing the public, Obama doesn’t seem to have faith in any of these customary tools of presidential leadership. … For Obama, words are no longer enough. … Obama has not executed; he has not found a way to overcome his era’s obstacles and fulfill his potential for greatness. It may be too late to learn how.”

36 thoughts on “Obama’s Diminishing Returns”

  1. 😕 ❓ I wasn’t inspired. I watched on NBC and the consensus there was the biggest moment was the sustained enotional outbreak for the IED victim of the Afghanistan war. Seeing this soldier stopped me in my tracks, too, as I reflected on the reasons we were in these two wars, left-over wars from Bush43, and all I could do was shake my head again and think, “this President was elected in 2008, took oath in 2009, and still hasn’t even tried to end this war in Afghanistan. Then he fishes for applause by saying hooray! —the war will end this year!…a hollow point of frustration with no guarantees. This man promised to close Guantanamo Bay prison and the JCOS told him “oh no you aren’t!”.

  2. The White House built up liberal’s expectations that, finally, Obama was going to stand up to the GOP bullies.

    He didn’t.

    You have to wonder why this guy wanted to be President.

    Obama should resign. Maybe Biden can do something.

  3. well, seems all wasn’t pabulum and bland blahs last night at the sotu. from cbs

    N.Y. congressman threatens reporter after SOTU

    Grimm says, “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f—–g balcony.”

    “Why?” Scotto says. “I just wanted to ask you…”

    In muffled cross-talk, Grimm is heard again saying, “If you ever do that to me again…”

    “Why? Why?” Scotto asks. “It’s a valid question.”

    After more cross-talk, Grimm says, “No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”

    Grimm then walks away.

  4. All Hat And No Cattle.

    Full of big talk but lacking action, power, or substance ... nobody loves a phoney.

  5. I thought Obama did reasonably well.

    Recognizing that this congress will be much the same as the last or perhaps even more do nothing if that is possible, he played the cards he had.

    Big projects require big legislation and big bucks and he is going to get neither from this congress.

  6. This could lower prices!

    Iraq and Iran plot oil revolution in challenge to Saudi Arabia
    Iraq’s intention to challenge Saudi Arabia’s status as the “swing producer” in the OPEC cartel could see a dramatic fall in oil prices if Baghdad decides to break the group’s quotas and sell more of its crude on the open market. Iraq is poised to flood the oil market by tripling its capacity to pump crude by 2020 and is collaborating with Iran on strategy in a move that will challenge Saudi Arabia’s grip on the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

    “We feel the world needs to be assured of fuel for economic growth,” Hussain al-Shahristani, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy in Iraq told oil industry delegates attending a Chatham House Middle East energy conference.

    Iraq’s intention to challenge Saudi Arabia’s status as the “swing producer” in the OPEC cartel could see a dramatic fall in oil prices if Baghdad decides to break the group’s quotas and sell more of its crude on the open market.

  7. to change the culture of Washington, to restore the public’s faith in government, and to tackle enduring national problems with bold solutions.

    I think that is worth pointing out that the President was addressing a group of republicans that believe climate change is a hoax,who are convinced that a decaying infra structure is no problem, that the concentration of wealth is a desirable goal, that poor people deserve to be poor, and that black men should not be president. Aside from that they are pretty rational people.

  8. Yeah… I guess the media reports of Obama’s upcoming feistiness were greatly over exaggerated.

    And the GOP’s “official” response seemed more like an imitation of Leave It To Beaver’s mom.

    The whole thing just kinda summed up our government… no passion, no new ideas, no clue.

  9. I must have a completely different interpretation of the word ‘reasonable’.

    Synonym of ‘reasonable: equitable
    Equitable: Characterized by equity or fairness; just and right; fair; reasonable: equitable treatment of all citizens.

  10. jace: that black men should not be president.

    I am so sick of hearing, from some people, that if you don’t think that Obama is doing his job, then you are a racist!

    I think the real racists are the people who make a habit of calling the rest of us racists!!

  11. Chloe,

    From day one republicans have been out to thwart this ‘foreign born’ president, and his liberal, socialist,un-American agenda. That might have been fine, except for the fact that most of his agenda was republican light.
    Hell they don’t even like tax cuts if they are Obama’s idea.

    From that, I can only draw my own conclusions. 😉

    Personally I wish he would have been a bit more of the radical leftist that his opponents made him out to be.

  12. Thanks for explaining your point of view, Jace.

    The racist thing just hit me wrong this morning (well, it always does. It’s a really ugly accusation, and should be used carefully).

  13. … I really like you, and wish I didn’t have to respond the way I did. But I did, I had to.

  14. jace: From day one republicans have been out to thwart this ‘foreign born’ president

    That ‘slander’ thing is part of what politics is. It’s going to continue and anyone putting themselves out there is a brave soul.

    I’m out of here, and hitting the (very cold) road. Have a good day.

  15. jace,


    The person we voted for in 2008 was not the person who actually took office in 2009. Big Red Flashing Sign: not prosecuting the Cheney/Bush Gang for War Crimes. Hell, other countries got it. We were morally wrong. Wrapping wrongness in a flag and tagging it as patriotic doesn’t cover up the fact our government was wrong. You have to rip off the scab to drain the poison before you can heal.

    Sad on another scale: people were genuinely “fired up” in 2008 with this candidacy. He did inspire hope, change. This was a good thing. A really good thing. This could have been an activist administration who exploited (positively) a willing populace. Think of what could, should, might have been done. That last sentence is not a legacy to leave.

    And where was the Democratic Leadership in all this? Yep, the Republicans indulge in despicable tactics. And get away with it. Ironically the Republicans tend to be taken down by their own tactics rather than any concerted effort by the opposition. The Dem Leadership had so many opportunities to hit back, fight back, hit high, hit low against the GOP. Sssssssss…… that is the sound of a deflating balloon. Quite inspiring.

    What a load of dead wood.

  16. During 2009 – 10, the country was in shambles due to republican incompetence and dishonesty. People were hopping mad and demanding huge changes. Therefore, Obama had a chance to make those changes. By getting bogged down with Obamacare, he lost support, the Dems shed Congressfolks, and he ended up with only the Senate,as led by Harry. If he’d begun with independence from oil & re-regulating Wall Street in 2009, he’d have made much more progress, and the Dems would have triumphed in 2010. Then in 2011 he could have rammed Public Option through a subservient Congress. Instead of pussy-footing, he should have followed Engine Charlie’s advice, “Come out quick with a kick in the crotch !”:

    1. He could have wasted the puguglicans over birtherism, their attacks on his wife, kids, and the White House garden, making them look like what they are, dastardly bullies who are so un-manly that they make up false charges and attack women and girls.

    2. He should have taken on faux news as a saudi controlled corporation, and had the bad roger ailes and murdoch indicted for failing to register as foreign agents. This would facilitate making the hated Iraq Fiasco look like what it was, a republican gift of American treasure and blood to the saudi royals.

    3. Obama should have raided the offices on Wall Street, made the execs take the perp walk, and then asked for no bail because of the risk of flight from prosecution (especially for the foreigner, jamey dimon). Obama should then have hired 250 actuaries, accountants, and legal eagles to do nothing but pour over the Wall Street books, minutes,and memos, looking for the felonious acts to charge.

    4. He should have had the FBI question dick cheney about the secret energy ‘Summit’. If cheney claimed executive privilege, Obama should have said, “I’m the executive, and I waive cheney’s privilege, not that he actually had any. cheney was only the v.p. and therefore had no executive privilege.

    5. Obama should have gone to the people about women’s right to choose not to be pregnant. He should have told how the bush administration had argued at the SCOTUS that the government had the controlling interest in every womb in America. “If the republican claim were true, we would really have Big Government !”

    Ad nauseum.

    By failing to derail the organizing myths of the puguglies, money management, defense, and foeti, and only dealing with Obamacare and minutiae, the President missed precious opportunities to set the country back on a course to democracy, equality, and prosperity. Instead, Obama played the role of punching bag, and no one loves one of those.

    All this is my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.

  17. We patients are in Progreso, Yucatan, for our medical follow up. It’s warm and sticky out, partly cloudy, with calm seas and an ever so slight breeze. It rained last night, and the land looks green, perky, and as flat as Kansas.

  18. Trail Hands, please excuse my impolite band width. I mean well.


    SJWNY, I fully subscribe to your brilliant analysis.

  19. xrepublican,

    Do regular (daily) rains that far north depend on movement of the ITCZ? In Central America, we’d be in the dry season for several more months.

    I liked your nauseum.

  20. 2.6″ of snow and Georgia is in a state of emergency.

    Why is that the “red” states always seem to have the worst weather-related crises?

    Could it have something to do with the fact that they have weak, underfunded governments?

  21. faux sports is a big broadcaster of soccer down here.

    Meanwhile, that other big Arab news agency, Al Jazeera reports that pro soccer teams spent about $3.7 B!LL!ON hiring players from other countries.

    El Pogo could be worth a fortune !

  22. Flatus,

    No. We’re in the dry season for a while. I think we had the first rain in about 2 weeks last night. It looked as though we would get more around 8 am, but the sun seems to have made the dark cloud mass turn into mere high humidity.

    We’ll be back in ‘temperate’ Minnesota before the monsoon returns.

  23. When the speech ended and the cameras pulled back, the scene looked so shabby, so threadbare. The Chamber looked small and filled with mostly dull colors. Sad and pitiful….during the speech the cameras turned to the republican’t leadership…a bunch of lazy layabouts. The US of AA taken down by two phony wars and a party of insane white men who actually think they have viable teats which when suckled release money from the US Treasury. A band of thugs who physically threaten reporters for asking questions.

    The republican’ts have dragged the entire country to the gutter. Not one dem is willing to risk their political life for the common good. That is the problem and Obama doesn’t want to risk legacy to fight for the common man. Instead we have thousands of maimed humans whose life is ruined by a bunch of chicken hawks protecting their friend’s oil power. It makes me hurt, makes me ashamed. As Mudcat stated so many years ago…we need someone to fight for us.

  24. Snow panic in Atlanta…home of the Weather Channel, no less. I think the south still has that management problem and the only reason they seem to handle hurricanes well is the frequency, not the competency of the human response to a weather crisis

  25. Advice on how to deal with “snow emergencies” in your car, from a resident of northern Maine.

    (1) First of all, why are you driving a “car?” Get yourself a 4-wheel drive extended cab pick-up truck.

    (2) Never let the gas tank go below half full.

    (3) Carry with you the following items…

    * small but sturdy snow shovel

    * large bag of rock salt, sand, or kitty litter (opinions vary on which is best)

    *several sleeping bags (get the expensive ones designed for winter camping)

    * several boxes of granola bars

    * a small collection of paperback novels

    * And…everyone should have photo ID so the state police can identify the bodies.

  26. Blonde Wino:

    I’ve been watching CNN this morning, whenever NCIS goes to commercial.

    All the CNN on-air personalities are telling their personal desperate stories of survival.

    Actual quote (I’m not making this up)…

    “I had to walk to work today, and it’s TWO MILES!”

  27. sjwny…. excellent post. It’s always great to see you here.

    I still have Rev. Wright’s “they’ve been grooming him for years for this” ringing in my ears.
    IMO,no one comes out of nowhere and actually wins as a candidate for President of either party without some major money being thrown their way. Who was throwing money at Obama in 2007? Who was whispering in his ear that he could be president? Who does he owe his presidency to?

    Methinks there’s way too much money being thrown around nowadays for a modern “man/woman of the people”. Hope I’m wrong.

  28. Plastic dayglow orange atop radio antenna, flashlight, small heater that plugs into adapter for car cig lighter, 40 oz of pnutbutter, magnum thermos of hot water, small red paper bags or glass tumblers & candles & matches for fairy lamps, extra wool socks and chopper mitts, parka and bunny boots, furry hat that pulls down over ears, our official Trail Mix weaver Renee’s warmest muffler, a hammer (to break back window in case buried under snowdrift), skis and ski poles, large backpack, gps device & fully charged cell phone, Maine sleeping bag, 12 ga shotgun w/slugs (in case of rutting moose), sharp 10″ hunting knife (in case you have to shelter inside a moose or bear – once you’ve cleaned out the owner), plenty of Official Trail Mix Sea Hag chocolates & a second thermos of hot water.

    You are now prepared to travel around Minnesota.

  29. Just another “PRESENT” speech from the do NOTHING president…he cares NOTHING about the middle cls NOTHING at all.!!

    We came into this world with nothing……and thanks to the two party system………..we will keep most of it.!!!

    But the worst thing is that we will keep electing these do NOTHINGS into office again and again…….

    Just thinking that the worlds most powerful person ( a Democrat) could give the middle class the help we need so much…..by just producing just on submarine less……the cost about 70 bil….just one destroyer……a few less of this and that…..that won’t hurt the defense of our country at all……..billions that are spent on killing machines and weapons that the military contractors like Halliburton……and…Diane Fienstiens Military defense corps….gets…..we could spend billions on education….etc……but real educatlion….not what we have today……

    Obama could change things around…….right now…..but he will do NOTHING……he has all that he wanted from the people that put him in there…..so don’t feel sorry for him….he and his family are set for many, many generations to come…..while leaving us with NOTHING………

  30. It’s Official and It’s Shocking !

    van susteran calls erick erickson a creep and a jerk. That’s not news, but it is fair and balanced.

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