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Can Anyone Really Run This Place?

The Vanity Fair article that has all of Washington buzzing may be the one in the upcoming issue about Sarah Palin. But the one that's the most essential read for any student of leadership and management is this one in the current issue about President Obama's overwhelmingly unwieldy way of running the country.

"Washington, We Have a Problem," Todd Purdum's ambitious analysis of the dysfunctional state of the federal government, is a worthwhile but flawed piece. Its suffers, in a sense from the same flaw as its subject: trying to do too much. By examining the never-ending news cycle, the exponential growth of the lobbying industry and the sad state of Congress, we're left with little more than a lot of depressing stuff we already know -- with the possible exception of the revelation that the president drinks a rare martini.

But it asks a critical question, and one that's sure to become a political lightning rod when it shouldn't be: Can anybody really manage this place? It's a question leaders should be asking not only of their president, but of the CEOs of almost any major global corporation operating today.

Republicans will say, of course, that the government has grown so colossally large during the Obama administration that the management problem is of his own making. Meanwhile, Democrats will counter that the total obstruction of Republican lawmakers would make it impossible for anyone to be effective in the president's job. Both are right in some regard.

Whatever your political persuasion, the sheer scope of the presidency is staggering. The Vanity Fair story, which is told in a day-of-the-president's-life narrative, recounts the vast number of decisions and crises Obama and his staff face on one otherwise unremarkable day: a West Virginia coal-mine tragedy, a vacancy on the Supreme Court, a new immigration law in Arizona, a shortage of disaster-relief funds, the latest plans for trying an alleged terrorist and a series of federal judicial nominations.

The government's size, of course, is one obvious cause of the president's management conundrum. As Purdum writes, "on the eve of World War II, F.D.R. had six high-level aides who carried the title 'administrative assistant to the President.' ... There are now upwards of 100 of them." The Federal Register, he notes, which acts as the daily record of new government regulations, presidential decrees and administrative orders, among other things, is 350 pages on the same unremarkable day. "The sheer size of government makes juggling a fact of life," Purdum writes, "and to some extent, an impossibility."

But is size really the root of the quandary? Over at FedBlog, Tom Shoop makes the smart observation that perhaps the problem is really one of micromanagement. Shoop posits that the problem is not the government's expanding size but a structure by which, as Purdum writes, "the entire executive branch funnels through the White House."

The cure for dysfunctional government, Shoop suggests, is to simply trust people to do their jobs. As an illustration, he offers up the BP oil spill, and the job Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen was able to do once he was given the authority to deal with the crisis at hand. "Instead of exhausting themselves by seeking to manage the entire government from the West Wing of the White House, the president and his aides might try trusting the people who have devoted their careers to federal service," Shoop writes.

No matter how much we like to turn our presidents and global CEOs into celebrities, no matter how much we prefer to reward heros and identify victims when large systems succeed or fail, and of course, no matter how powerful and transformative a good leader can be, there is a limit to what one person can do. But the answer is not necessarily to make our organizations smaller, though there is certainly an argument for that in many cases. Rather, the key to leading ever larger organizations may be to let go of the reins a little. The best thing leaders can do is not to make all the right decisions, but to empower the people who work for them to make them instead.

Read more from Jena McGregor:

* Oh to work at Netflix

* Reining in CEO pay

*
Paranoia may have helped Lisa Murkowski

By Jena McGregor

 |  September 2, 2010; 11:04 PM ET |  Category:  Corporate leadership , Crisis leadership , Federal government leadership , Government leadership , Leadership , Leadership development Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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What a bunch of insipid whining by people who had already decided on Nov 5th that Obama was going to fail. He's a micro manager and has his hands in too much. He's a Marxist who delegates too much to experts with "Czars" for given areas. He's a bad manager because he has a law degree. He's from Kenya. He has webbed feet.

BLAH BLAH BLAH. The mess left behind by the Neocons will take over a decade to fix and it would even with Ozymandias leading the country. They f'ed it up that bad. There's no easy fix to Republican policies folks so quit crying and roll up your sleeves with the rest of us to fix the nation.

Posted by: theobserver4 | September 7, 2010 3:09 PM

It makes no difference what Obama does. He's a black man in the White House and the White Republican party can't live with that one fact!

Republicans will LIE, CHEAT & STEEL to gain back the White House.

Sure Republican causes all this mess!
Sure the Republicans are at fault!

Problem is Republican lie so much that 26% of America that never finished high school believe the lies told by Republicans. They don't read news, (most can't even read above 3 grade anyway) they do what they are told by their Republican Church. Too ignorant to know any better!

The 2 party system is a JOKE and intended to keep America divided, the people divided and corporations in control & power!

The Religious Right MUST be stopped before it's too late and more Americans DIE!!

The problem is NOT OBAMA...THE REAL ENEMY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE COMES FROM THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT REPUBLICANS!

Posted by: imZandor | September 7, 2010 8:29 AM

Another case of "damned if you do; damned if you don't" (or "damned if you are; damned if you aren't").

He's a lawyer by training and, of necessity, a detail man. The late Texas Gov. John Connally (of Kennedy Assassination fame), another lawyer, definitely wasn't; often defiantly so. Any conscientious aide trying to point out important minutiae in an issue or document risked provoking an explosion of white-hot rage. Connally considered himself a Big Picture man; only The Big Picture concerned him. After he left electoral politics the arcane details of some real estate deals destroyed him financially -- itty-bitty details tucked away inside contracts he signed that he declined to study. So there's no right answer.

The charge that President Obama lacks "executive experience" and therefore is unfit to hold that office is ludicrous on its face. For starters, the Presidency itself is a job unlike any other; no realistic preparation exists for it. And on a deeper philosophical level there is no way out of an inescapable paradox inherent in the job itself: only issues that are insoluble at lower bureaucratic levels ever reach a president's desk. Inevitably, these involve opaque areas and great unknowns. Strategizing at such high levels of complexity requires prolonged visits to that realm where the Devil resides ("get down in the weeds", as Mr. Obama himself says).

Is there a way around this paradox, a middle ground? If such a thing exists, it's hardly obvious and wouldn't be static in any case. Its location would vary from issue to issue and even day to day, depending; a host of variables, most invisible, at play -- chance and freak occurrences especially. Not only is The World stranger than we know, it is stranger than we can know; beyond knowledge, actually. "Knowledge is power" -- so goes the proverb -- but if The World is beyond knowing then what is power, beyond self-delusion and hubris? Former Presidents Bush (pere et fils) could lecture knowledgeably about that subject ... .

But could a president -- any -- find that elusive middle ground (porridge not too hot nor too cold) day-in, day-out, in every problematic area that he confronts (nuclear weapons policy; bi-lateral and regional foreign policy; international and domestic economic policy; trade issues; strategic arms negotiations; Congressional issues; etc, etc) even if one existed? Only if he was omniscient ... .

Posted by: hogsmile | September 6, 2010 4:01 AM


I think most people who have worked in a law office will tell you, that lawyers really stink at being managers.

This really isn't a shot across the bow of how President Obama is handling our country's current mess, because if you look back over the last 8 years of the Bush administration, even a guy with an undergraduate degree from Yale and a MBA from the Harvard School of Business, stunk up the place more than anyone could imagine.

So is it a matter of President Obama "micromanaging?" Or is it that business and law schools across the nation aren't teaching their craft effectively to it's students?

Or maybe President Obama was dumped into a "recession," that was really a "depression" and no one wanted to panic us and it's going to take a few years before things get back to any semblance of normal.

Personally, I don't think we have any options left at this point!

It was during the Republicans "shift" that we got into this mess, President Obama has another 2 years left in his administration, (at least, hopefully more) and one thing I know for sure, George Bush was either an incredible boob, or an excellent acting tyrant who simply ran out of time.


Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | September 6, 2010 2:34 AM

Pray tell, where is the evidence to support her assertions of micro-management? His staff and appointees are some of the best educated and experienced we have had. Surely they were hired to perform a task.

Who has executive experience that transfers to the job of leader of the free world? It is a unique position.

And the editor of the Harvard Review can do far more than read a teleprompter to form an argument and express himself.

Please refrain from journalism that is not fully developed and is lacking in data and content.

That is me micromanaging your article (smile).

Posted by: hakafos44 | September 5, 2010 11:09 PM

The problem with this article is that there is no context. The author, Jena McGregor, just asserts that Obama micromanages the government but she doesn't explain how this is happening. All she had to do was to come up with two or three examples showing how Obama inappropriately took a hand in making some decision on a policy that could have been better done by the people who work for the White House. Maybe, she could also have interviewed the people who were micromanaged.

Jena mentions "a West Virginia coal mine tragedy" which just happened to be responsible for the death of 26 miners which was a national story with deep implications for the mining industry, "a vacancy on the Supreme Court" which I believe the President is obligated to provide a nomination, "New Arizona Immigration law" which just happens to be a political hot potato... I'm just shaking my head. I don't understand why the President should not be involved at some level in these issues.

I don't understand how journalists can just throw out these statements without providing facts to support the main thesis of this article that Obama micromanages.

Does Jena Macgregor actually know how to write articles which are clear and factual? Maybe her editor should be micromanaging her work.

Posted by: fuzzylogic | September 5, 2010 10:37 PM

To: JAMESCHIRICO - aka Mr. who thinks he's a KNOW-IT-ALL...
To answer your question if our country is worse off after 19 months of your bumbling,fumbling and most egregiously rambling newbie, JUST LOOK AT THE DEFICIT and IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!
1. he spent nearly trillion dollars of stimulus money & what did we get in return? An unemployment rate of 9.6 % since he took office AND frankly, I'm sick and tired of their whining and playing the "blaming, pointing fingers, passing the buck" GAME. GROW UP, whiners!
2. let's see, what else. Didn't they promise that the health care law WILL DECREASE THE COST of health care for average American? NOT - as you have provided raw data that is not even accurate b/c the average cost increased by 30% redistributed to those who already have insurance to COVER THOSE WHO WERE NOT ELIGIBLE TO BE COVERED in the first place and covering those 26 years olds, who frankly, if they can not afford to get health insurance themselves b/c they are jobless or homeless, should look to newbie for what they created in a short amount of time!
3. BUT MOST detrimental to this nation's future prosperity is the CONSTANT and CONTINUATION of the legal fight that your administration has determined is the culprit in "human rights issue" regarding illegal immigration. First the law suit against Arizona, then the "investigation" into Sheriff Arpaio and finally, the last straw, the UN report stating the "violations against human rights" regarding Arizona state's fight against illegal immigration and drug cartel fight on the border! Like you mentioned before, READ THE 10th AMMENDMENT - the Federal government does NOt have the Constitutional Right to RESTRICT and CONTROL the people of Arizona's right for self-protection!

Posted by: american17 | September 5, 2010 9:05 PM

To have Obama "leave the running" to people he has chosen, here is Wikipedia take on the man (who ran for President in '87) that Obama chose as Vice President, Joe Biden (to make up for OBama's own abysmal lack of experience):

"In September 1987, the campaign ran into trouble when he was accused of plagiarizing a speech that had been made by Neil Kinnock, leader of the British Labour Party.[126] Kinnock’s speech included the lines:

"Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? [Then pointing to his wife in the audience] Why is Glenys the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Was it because all our predecessors were thick?"

While Biden’s speech included the lines:

"I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? [Then pointing to his wife in the audience] Why is it that my wife who is sitting out there in the audience is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? Is it because I'm the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree that I was smarter than the rest?"

Though Biden had cited Kinnock as the source for the formulation many times before, he made no reference to the original source at the August 23 Iowa State Fair debate in question or in another appearance.[127][128] While political speeches often appropriate ideas and language from each other, Biden's use came under more scrutiny because he somewhat distorted his own family's background to match Kinnock's.[10][128]

A few days later, Biden's plagiarism incident in law school came to public light.[18] It was also revealed that when earlier questioned by a New Hampshire resident about his grades in law school, Biden had falsely stated that he had graduated in the "top half" of his class, that he had attended law school on a full scholarship, and that he had received three degrees in college. He had in fact earned a single B.A. with a double major in history and political science, had received a half scholarship to law school based on financial need with some additional assistance based in part upon academics, and had graduated 76th of 85 in his law school class."

Posted by: Georgetowner1 | September 5, 2010 8:18 PM

I have to disagree with many of you. The appearance of micromanaging by Mr. Obama is due to the nattering press who convince the ignorant sector of our population that HE must do something. Mr. Obama is delegating many tasks but also keeping aware of what is happening. Our prior President was completely isolated from events and not aware of what was happening.
The current administration was handed the helm of a sinking ship and has managed to at least stabilize it. It will take time to bring it up to speed but a greedy, impatient, childish sector of our population demands a "silver bullet" fix. Mr. Bush offered one with his tax cuts for the rich and two wars. We have seen how that worked out.
America needs to grow up, stop listening to idiot, politically motivated, talk radio hosts who tell them what to think. We need to start using their brains.
As "Fans of The Chalkboard on Winterpock Road" read today, "Deliberate Often- Decide Once!"

Posted by: pjohn2 | September 5, 2010 6:47 PM

Obama's executive problem is of course the same as Bush's was: cronyism

How many people high up in the Obama administration are not from Chicago or Harvard? How many people high up in the Bush administration were not from Texas or Big Oil?

When you blindly ignore 99% of the country in search of qualified leadership, and pick from your friends (heckuva job, Brownie!), you simply MUST end up with a dysfunctional government that hasn't a clue which direction to go.

Posted by: dtestard | September 5, 2010 4:16 PM

It wasn't micromanagement that allowed MMS to stop regulating the oil and gas industry and party with them instead.

It wasn't micromanagement that removed regulations of financial derivatives that ended up causing the largest global downturn since the Great Depression.

It wasn't micromanagement that had the US ship pallets worth billions of dollars of bills to Iraq and then not control their expenditures.

We've seen that government employees think about nothing except surviving until they vest in their retirement accounts. It goes on. I find it disingenuous, at best, while we're trying to fix problems caused by eight years of intentional ignorance, to complain that someone's paying attention enough to try to fix it.

Posted by: groucho42 | September 5, 2010 3:00 PM

The problem is we don't appreciate our government. We want everything now and for free.

I live in France where the government is horrific, overstaffed, unionized, demeaning and inefficient. I just had to get a new passport and the US Government had it issued in 4 days! I asked how fast I could get one in France and it's six weeks!!!

Posted by: DGSPAMMAIL | September 5, 2010 2:21 PM

Good grief, how quickly we forget. President Obama was blamed for NOT micromanaging when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack fired Shirley Sherrod.

Posted by: dotell | September 5, 2010 12:55 PM

I guess it's not really clear to me what the point of this column is, other than perhaps to serve as a platform for so many to demonstrate how little they grasp about our current situation. Facts or analysis are pretty pointless if you have already decided what you are going to say. Bush proved that too well. But with regard to this topic, Bush also proved that the problem is not BIG government, the problem is BAD government.

Posted by: tfspa | September 5, 2010 12:22 PM

I can see November from my computer and, the congressional Dems can see the unemployment line from theirs. I can also see Nov. '12. Bu bye, Obummer!

Posted by: illogicbuster | September 5, 2010 11:05 AM

Obama never managed a business or an operation other than overseeing a campaign as the candidate. Most of his cabinet and czar appointees as well as other political appointees did not have any operational experience either and one wonders why his administration is failing? To boot he signs and approves massive bills of over 2000 pages without knowing what the bill contains going on faith. Those bills will generate 20,000 to 40,000 of new regulation pages with the associated cost to taxpayers, businesses, and loss of freedom and one wonders why his administration is failing?

He is a little man who speaks big words from a teleprompter without the knowledge and wisdom to carry the work.

Posted by: georgiarat | September 5, 2010 10:44 AM

There is a saying, "History forgotten is history repeated." Obama is supposed to be a smart man but apparently he has never looked at the absolute failure of the Jimmy Carter administration. The WH tried to micromanage the government and never realized that it is to big to managed by just a few. I hope we will have better candidates than we have had for the last 40 years. Some candidates who realize that leadership is the art of getting people to do your will. You do that by selecting the best possible people then letting them do THEIR JOB.

Posted by: jslivesay | September 5, 2010 10:04 AM

"Bet the American people are smart enough not to make the same BAD MISTAKE twice!!"

I wouldn't make that bet just yet. The American people was stupid enough to reelect Bush the second after all he did.

Obama has its failings - the biggest of all is that he is not heading von Bismarck's warning about how to deal with thieves. Quite frankly, he should just ram through his agenda, since visibly the Republicans are just going to obstruct everything for political gains. But he does not. He does not kick these folks where he should - in their nuts.

Still, compared to Bush, Obama is a paragon of intelligence and competence. Obama does actually read newspapers, for starters, and does not take several weeks vacation collecting dead wood somewhere in Texas. Obama also speaks to the American people as responsible adults, not a bunch of fatty kids that have the attention span of a firefly.

If the American people is stupid enough to elect the likes of Sarah Palin, all I can say is, prepare to surrender your role as a superpower. The challenges are here, today, they are humongous, but not insurmountable. But they need to be addressed, and fast, before the other nations of this planet steam pass the US.

Posted by: skidooman1 | September 5, 2010 9:45 AM

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, formed by three Republicans and enacted when the Republicans held the majority in both the Congress and the Senate, llowed the newly-merged banks to take on riskier investments while at the same time removing any requirements to maintain enough equity, exposing the assets of its customers.

Gee I guess that had nothing to do with our banks ending up on the verge of a collapse and the mortgage meltdown, it must be the Democrats' fault because they're now cleaning up the mess and we want them to wave a magic wand to make it all go away and they didn't wave a magic wand.

Oh, and the Republicans fiscally prudent!

And they have shown that they are against the stimulus packages proposed by Obama! Only they proved they are actually for stimulus funding in 2008. See here:

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2008-25

The only reason John Boehner is shouting "NO YOU CANT!" and continuously railing against the stimulus package proposals today is this: He knows they're going to pass without his vote. Which gives him the opportunity to make this a wedge issue and him look like he's against it. In other words, the Republicans are doing what they do best - being hypocrites and doing their "attack and destroy" of a Democratic President even if it's at our expense.

And now that they are on the rhetoric train and bombarding us with disparaging soundbites, they feel it's a good opportunity to have a go at making the Bush Tax Cuts permanent. Another example of their "fiscal prudence" - they handed over $680 billion in the past 10 years to millionaires and billionaires. Example: If you have an income of $7 million dollars/year, you get $3 million handed to you, for no reason other than that you made $7 million dollars/year. You don't have to hire people in the US, you don't even have to own a business. You just have to have had an income of $7 million/year and you get the money handed over to you.

You can't make this stuff up, it's so ridiculous.

And so is the John Birch Society. Look them up! You've heard the the most banal rhetoric that's been getting spewed from people on these blogs, now find out where it originates and look at how CRAZY the John Birch Society is.

Seriously, THAT gets your vote? And you think the Republicans are virtuous and fiscally prudent, and that they are not lacking in foresight?

How embarrassing.

Posted by: redjanuko | September 5, 2010 9:25 AM

The cure is not to have government shut down like Newt did when he had control of congress. The cure is to shut down the Republicans in the Congress and Senate and vote them out.

Why on earth would it be President Obama? The campaigns that are out there to disparage him are obscene and embarrassing to our country. The teabaggers make us look like morons with an attention span so short they can't remember as far back as two years ago while they run around in costumes loosely depicting the 18th century and rally on auspicious dates like April 15, during a year in which the middle class paid the lowest in federal taxes they've paid in decades.

Let's get real for a change.

All we have to do is look at his STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS to come back down to reality and realize this man has had the wisdom and foresight and conviction that merits respect. He was dead on during that speech, and anyone who listens to it again will be able to cut through all of the sleazy rheoric and know - for themselves, using their own eyes and ears - that he is a capable president worthy of respect.
People,take the the time, for the sake of our country, and bring some reality back into your lives about the real issues at hand and listen to what our president is saying here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTMrs9vpoqg

Oh, and in case you forgot, John Boehner not only votred FOR the stimulus in 2008, he helped form it. In fact 169 Republicans voted for it and only 25 voted against it then. Don’t believe it?

See for yourselves: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2008-25

The only reason John Boehner isn't voting for stimulus today is that he knows they're going to pass without his vote. That gives him the opportunity to disparage it and disparage our President. The Republicans are a bunch of hypocrites. And remember that THEY are the ones demanding the Bush Tax Cuts be extended. They spent $680 billion in the last ten years just handing over money to millionaires and billionaires and want to extend it.

We have smart government right now and a bunch of Republican hypocrites trying to tear them - and this nation - down. Case closed.

Posted by: redjanuko | September 5, 2010 9:02 AM

Our problem is not only with a president that is making bad decisions, it is about our governing body; congress and senate. The problems began when the democrats took over majority. Decisions were being made based on what the individual representatives wanted and not what the people they represent wanted. Our representatives are more worried about re-election than the needs of the country. Making decisions based on what an individual wants and needs is unconstitutional.

Posted by: meyermayhem | September 5, 2010 8:35 AM

This reporter seriously doesn't know what's wrong? Obie, has ZERO exec experience or knowledge, basically ZERO work experience and she wonders why he's screwing up so badly trying to hold the most difficult exec position in the world? Get an I.Q.
=============================================
After taking the entire GOP House to the woodshed in their health care debate (so bad FOXNEWS stopped covering the event), it seems to me he has more on the ball than the entire GOP. To the GOP passing bills they don't like is unconstitutional, you have your birthers, stimulus did nothing we need a tax cut (half of stimulus was tax cuts), the Dubya rich tax cuts (still in effect) create jobs (not looking at cash on balance sheets), our policies will reduce the deficit (history says otherwise), he is weak on terror (Pakistan/Yemen going after terrorists, drone attacks, the buildup of Afghan forces), the Cold War drawdown is wrong (Romney), or the wonderful Tea Party candidate ideas (Paul's bias in public venues, Angle's 2nd amendment takeout, Rubio's cutting medicare/social security in our oldest population state). The GOP pushing the thrice failed Reaganomics (1982, 91, 07-10 recession, S&L failure, current bank failures) is not something this American will vote for nor should anyone with common sense.

Posted by: jameschirico | September 5, 2010 7:00 AM

To all the conservatives posting about how inept the president is, I have one question is the country better or worse after a 19 months? Just to prove a point about conservative ignorance, the Dem. healthcare plan has not been put into effect and is blamed for the 20% increase in insurance premiums. Be careful of what you wish for you may get it. FDR in 1937 scaled back and lost two years of gains in the economy, only the massive spending for WWII brought us out of the depression. Obama has not been great at fixing the mess he was given, but the progress is undeniable.

Posted by: jameschirico | September 5, 2010 6:31 AM

Time's up. If he had been in charge of even the smallest business, Obama would have been fired by now. He couldn't even leave a successful legacy in a few square miles of urban Chicago. Unfortunately, his staff is as incompetent as he is. History will be extremely unkind to him. Although perhaps his golf scores will be remembered charitably.

Posted by: npsmith | September 5, 2010 5:29 AM

The author of this article discovered a management term and decided to bandy it around. The President cannot, even with the best intentions, handle the size of this bureaucracy single handedly.

Posted by: fasm7700 | September 5, 2010 4:08 AM

The writer is presuming to know much more than she does know. The writing in this piece borders on the juvenile and the editorial board should know better than to publish such uninformed and trite material.

Posted by: theduke89 | September 5, 2010 1:23 AM

Obama has appointed ample numbers of staff and additional government workers, including his precedent setting number of czars.

To suggest that he should "let go of the reins" is to suggest that he has been "managing" the nation. If so, he has done a very poor job of it.

His numerous speeches, written by a variety of writers, have been his biggest contribution to "management" -- and, speeches are talk, not "accomplishment", not "product", and "not working" for the majority of Americans.

Posted by: pjcafe | September 5, 2010 1:03 AM

If GOP in Congress keeps on blocking confirmation of President Obama's selected appointees, he will have to do more to keep our government running smoothly.

Are people complaining he doesn't fly back to Chicago once every one or two weeks for the weekend?

Fortunately, President Obama really grabs the opportunity to serve our country. Under GOP's microscope, he can't do anything right. As an Independent, I am thankful to have him in the White House. I did not vote for him, but I will campaign for him in 2012.

Posted by: dummy4peace | September 4, 2010 9:26 PM

twm1 ... can you provide us with a copy of the RNC talking points? Not being a member of the Republican Party, I'v never seen that list. appreciate your help!

Posted by: Hazmat77 | September 4, 2010 9:06 PM

demtse ... what percentage of Democrats wanted Bush43, Bush41, or Ronald Reagan to succeed?

Posted by: Hazmat77 | September 4, 2010 9:04 PM

LTParis ... Obama is inexperienced PERIOD.

He is an empty suit, best suited to advise on community activism or maybe give a lecture or two to a high school health class.

He had absolutely NO experience in managing or administering a government - experience that mayors and governors get.

He had NO experience in making decisions - just see his Illinois Senate Voting Record where he covered his lack of knowledge by voting Present instead of yes/no!

His Senate record was undistinguished, much as his presidency appears to be working up to.

He lies with the full intent to deceive, but the left barely notices... probably because they don't care what he says or does ... he is their connection with history...their validation making up for decades of the left's active mistreatment of black Americans.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | September 4, 2010 9:01 PM

What is comical is how many people think that Obama (or whomever) is inexperienced to be PotUS. The fact is there is no one on the face of this earth that is experienced to be President. Period.

For the right leaning folks clammering how bad Obama is an all, who does the right have as a viable alternative? Palin? Pawlenty? Gingrich? It's all laughable how small of a pool of candidates the GOP will offer up for the top job. Please for the love of bring forth a real candidate.

This is not to give Obama a pass as I have disagreed with many positions the WH has had in these past months, but quite frankly he is far better than Bush was and his greatest failing was his greatest asset in his campaign as someone that wanted to compromise. So those on the left feel nothing is going their way. Unfortunately the other side of the asile just wanted to be obstructionist and we have now reached a very venomous state of politics.

I hope that people will wake up from their rage and realize for us to stand united we all need to approach things with an open mind. No one political party has all the answers and for us to thrive as a country we need to pull together.

Posted by: LTParis | September 4, 2010 8:32 PM


There are a good number of people inside and outside the white house that want Obama to fail...


Posted by: demtse | September 4, 2010 8:03 PM

...hey, let's just listen to Palin and the failed GOP, and go back to cut taxes / cut govt that we tried for the 3 decades of the Reagan/Bush era. In fact, let's get ANOTHER big tax cut to the wealthiest as we did in 1981 and 2001.

I mean, that worked SO well to deliver Trickle Down prosperity. Almost nobody is unemployed now. And the banks and oil companies and health insurers, heck - they POLICED THEMSELVES!!! Get government out of the WAY by golly!

Abe Lincoln would have said;
"You can fool some of the people, ALL of the time"... ;^)

- Balkingpoints / www

Posted by: RField7 | September 4, 2010 5:46 PM

Per Obama we are better off because of all the things he has done as president. Why is he the only one who thinks so?
The president needs a mental check up.

Posted by: nychap44 | September 4, 2010 2:56 PM

Obama is an abject failure as president. Frankly, I fail to see how he could succeed as a "community organizer".

Impeach Obama.

Posted by: JCM-51 | September 4, 2010 2:41 PM

For a person who had absolutely no experience at managing anything prior to being elected president, what did you expect?
Now that he has been president for at least 18 months, he still does not have any experience being president. How could he not do whatever he wanted to do legislatively when his party was in complete and overwhelming control of congress for most of his term so far?.

Posted by: nychap44 | September 4, 2010 2:07 PM

If we stuck to the Constitution and the separation of powers between the Federal Goverment and the States we wouldn't have such a serious problem. Take for example, the Department of Education, which was established by a Democratic Congress in 1980. This Department now spends billions of tax payer dollars. Also States send their tax dollars to this huge bureacracy and receive 50cents in educational funds in return. Has this Dept. really improved American Education? This should be a state function pure and simple. Other examples abound.

Posted by: jkk1943 | September 4, 2010 12:41 PM

Now come on boys and girls. What was Bushys experience as President when he took office the first time?

NONE

An when the Supreme court gave him the second term, he for sure has learned NOTHING the first 4 years.

You idiots are just to blind. But hate and racism does that.

Posted by: mackiejw | September 4, 2010 11:07 AM

thebump's comment reflects a misunderstanding of the real world. The "job" is defined by either the administration or federal law. Federal employees (for the most part anyway) don't go off and do whatever they want. If an American is arrested overseas, should the White House (or the State Department) be consulted as to how to proceed by the American consular officer assigned to assist the U.S. citizen? Most would say no - that Federal employee should be able to handle that task on their own. At the local level, a mayor/council system may set the budget for a fire department, but the firemen don't need to ask the elected officials about how to fight a fire when they reach the scene. That would be micromanagement. At some point, common sense needs to be applied.

Posted by: RichardCollins | September 4, 2010 9:04 AM

I always felt his lack of experience was a huge handicap. Hell, I had more experience then he did and I am the same age. Two friends who ran major companies did. People elected him for one reason and they are the true racists, not those who voted against "his lack of experience" like I did.

Pelosi, Dodd, et. al., have put this country at great risk by passing bills that no one knows anything about. Huge government programs are not the issue. Also, for those criticizing Bush's tax cuts, please look at the CBO data for the years he was president. You are a smart bunch, look it up. I did and revenues went up, folks. So when revenues go down under Obama, what will you say then?

Posted by: taocpa | September 4, 2010 8:44 AM

Typical Democratic presidency,just like Cater who was the micro manager of all the presidents in this country. It just reflects these people do not trust others to do the job and they think they know it all to be in charge. Unfortunately 24 hrs a day is not enough for one person to review and plan and implement the entire federal government agenda. It comes from a insecurity of the person in charge when they get involved in every little affairs. It just shows the inexperience of the individual. He would have been fine just being a community organizer not the president of this complex nation.

Posted by: chaemoondriver | September 4, 2010 8:40 AM

Obummer is just doing what the lefty libs were too blind to see....he has never even run a lemonade stand, let alone the most powerful, prosperous country in the world. This "on the job training" is at our expense and it's finally nice to see the buyer's remorse coming out. OTO...one term Obama is assured.

Posted by: powerange | September 4, 2010 7:54 AM

This reporter seriously doesn't know what's wrong? Obie, has ZERO exec experience or knowledge, basically ZERO work experience and she wonders why he's screwing up so badly trying to hold the most difficult exec position in the world? Get an I.Q.

Posted by: illogicbuster | September 4, 2010 7:12 AM

Thanks you right wing hacks for repeating all the RNC talking points that everyone has heard hundreds of times before.

Posted by: twm1 | September 4, 2010 6:43 AM

Why does president Obama always support the bad guys, like illegal aliens and the New Black Panthers?

Is this Obama's bizarro world, where what's good is bad and what's bad is good?

Posted by: bingham60 | September 4, 2010 6:36 AM

Has anyone considered just how much the federal government is micro-managing the state and local governments?

Posted by: DRoman1 | September 4, 2010 1:29 AM

Here's the understatement of the year:

The government's size, of course, is one obvious cause of the president's management conundrum. As Purdum writes, "on the eve of World War II, F.D.R. had six high-level aides who carried the title 'administrative assistant to the President.' ... There are now upwards of 100 of them."
-------------------------------------------------

Progressive bloggers keep asking the question: "OK, what specific programs do we cut out of the Federal Budget?"

I'd rather ask the question, what hardworking bureaucrats should we keep? How many departments can be consolidated? How many people are needed to run the typical government agency, and what's the best way to streamline the firing process for the deadwood

And it's about time that federal workers start funding their own pension and profit share plans like the rest of us do.?

The GOP needs a Christie to run for president.

Posted by: tacheronb | September 3, 2010 11:28 PM

The overinflated salaries of scum bureaucrats should be cut 25%. Millions of them. These elitist continue to think they should make regulation after regulation. They are the problem and not the solution. 30% of them should be fired.

Posted by: txengr | September 3, 2010 11:10 PM

Excuse me, but the notion that unelected bureaucrats should be cut lose to "do their jobs" is repugnant to basic democratic principles. The president is the only elected official in the executive branch, and he damn well better be keeping the bureaucracy on a short leash.

Regardless, Oboobma's chief problem is not micromanagement but incompetence.

Posted by: thebump | September 3, 2010 10:08 PM

I suggest that you read the New York Times article by David Brooks for insight into when and where Obama lost his way in the early days of his presidency. Very much on target.

Posted by: JohnRice | September 3, 2010 10:06 PM

What? You mean a community organizer can't manage a large organization? I'M SHOCKED!!! SHOCKED I SAY!!!! But this is what Americans voted for - so deal with it.

Posted by: Capitalist-1 | September 3, 2010 10:05 PM

Folks, this is what we got when we elected an INEXPERIENCED NEOPHYTE who looked and sounded good when he read a teleprompter. HE HAS ZERO EXPERIENCE MANAGING/LEADING PEOPLE!

Bet the American people are smart enough not to make the same BAD MISTAKE twice!!

Posted by: wheeljc | September 3, 2010 8:46 PM

glad this topic is out in the open. it has been widely reported that the vast majority of the administration, including POTUS, have little if any line experience and were pols or academics or consultants (Axelrod & Plouffe.)
the concept of reports, P&L accountability and strategic planning with milestones for execution is utterly unknown to this crew of self-dubbed eggheads.
hopefully they will be on their way soon and we can have Hillary, who should have been elected in the first place.
these Chicago machine folks and profs from the Ivy League need to bid farewell and let an adult take control of the thing.
delegators are beautiful people. control freaks can't let anything go. (i.e. see economy, 2009/1010.) how's that going, hope & change crew.
I think most people thought the change would be for the *better* and the hope would be for something besides POTUS' departure.

Posted by: FloridaChick | September 3, 2010 8:43 PM

Having had two successful careers, one in one of the best run corporations and another in the federal govt., I find several main problems: 1. There is a major drive to change the U.S. to a command-and-control society where govt. sets the rules and the public has to live within these rules which is not the intent of the U.S. Constitution. 2. Since the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act, there has been drastic increases in the number of political appointees and conversions (appointee/career) with the result that the quality of professional knowledge has declined and work has shifted to tasks easy to perform so that the appointee can get more bullets in the résumé or to satisfy political pressures and disregard the law of the land. 3. Although Repub appointees tended to de-emphasize govt's role, Dem's tended to want to enlarge govt. without knowing what the limits were of what could be accomplished. Thus, the adage: "try it and see what happens." Private industry employs R&D, but with career mgt. in charge there are more active checks and balances.

Posted by: alansterling | September 3, 2010 8:38 PM

Having worked in the federal government for over 30 years, the observation about micromanagement is accurate, albeit the trend is not unique to the Obama administration. There is more and more centralization and politicalization (more and more political appointees). I had less leeway at the end of my career than at the early stages despite being several grades higher in rank. No elected official ever runs for office on the basis of letting government employees earn their salary. While many will claim they are for "efficiency in government," rarely are slogans translated into deeds.

Posted by: RichardCollins | September 3, 2010 6:59 PM

The fool swore an OATH to the Constitution.

Isn't he a Constitutional law professor? So, unlike his party's lawmakers, I think he's READ it and KNOWS what his SCOPE of responsibility is.

But he's a BUTTINSKI with a CONTROL FETISH and an affinity for POWER GRABBING.

So, the FAILURE is HIS and HIS alone.

He WANTS to micromange. He's a TOTALITARIAN who's TERM LIMITED, unless he ignores THAT TOO.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Posted by: wapoexile | September 3, 2010 4:51 PM

I hope to God that this guy will only be a one-term president so that we can get our country back! My dog has more experience than this guy! Barack Hussein Obama, a smooth talker from the southside of Chicago, with anti-American, socialist views, shoves a health care plan that Americans don't want down our throats, takes control of failing big business, is against the war then escalates it, kowtows to all foreign countries, apologizing for everything America is and has stood for for the last 200+ years - can it get any worse? He's a trainwreck of a president - an embarassment and I wish he'd just get out of the way!

Posted by: magenta2 | September 3, 2010 4:51 PM

Oh, you silly, silly people! Obama is the brightest star in the heavens - and only he knows what's good for us. After all, he's an IVY LEAGUE GRADUATE. The rest of us are too stupid to know what's good for us!

Posted by: georges2 | September 3, 2010 4:37 PM

What don't you people understand. Obama ( the greatest teleprompter reader in the world ) knows what is best for your life and how you should live it, you are stupid, just like the policeman and you don't even get a beer. Mr. Obama, I WILL RUN MY OWN LIFE THANK YOU. The people are getting fed up with your pompous, elite actions. I suggest you enjoy those expensive vacations this term because you could definitely lose the second term. America is waking up!

Posted by: sambird | September 3, 2010 4:32 PM

The problem is not whether the WH should be micromanaging events that happens for defer them to subordinates. Rather, the problem is that some people expect the WH to have a direct hand in managing some national event that comes up. And if the WH is not directly visible or involved, then the masses will cry foul and claim the President is not in touch with the people.

Look at any weather related emergency. FEMA was the office in charge of a lot of the recovery efforts. The President usually does a publicity tour after a few days and people moved on. After Katrina, there's an expectation that the WH should be directly involved and managing the emergency. The actual process and procedure defined by policy of the affected agency responsible for the event goes right out the window.

Posted by: SpecTP | September 3, 2010 4:13 PM

Explain to me what I'm, missing here.... Republicans stood in the way.!! The democrats owned the senate and the congress. They had the votes to pass whatever they wanted.. In fact they had two Lady senators from Maine to help with their already majority.. What else did they need. How could Republicans possibly vote for programs to nationalize the country. The health care plan is starting to unravel in front of our very eyes... Spending is out of control,.. spending only Progressives could support.. You get the picture.. dems did get just about everything they wanted with their majority.. Remember Ms Palosi said "We need to pass the health care bill, so that we will know whats in it".. Now there is leadership you can admire.. Sen Dodd used the same statement on Fin Reg bill. Its the public that has turned its back on the president and his minions and will invoke their displeasure in 6 weeks. "Racists" "astro turf" "Nazis".. You know the drill insulted the great "unwashed" the non elite and they tried to give the dems a "heads Up" at the Spring congressional break but they were made fun of.. why not, the left was on a roll..who cares what those stupid, uninformed voters think.. We will do the thinking for them..

Posted by: james_m_reilly1 | September 3, 2010 4:09 PM

VastRightWingConspirator denotes a lack of executive experience, of which he/she conveniently failed to mention the failings of the the previous administration, who left the economic viability of this country in total disarray, and to add, the way that entire ship was run was quite indicative of inexperience too the max.

Care to explain sorry state of Bush and company or would you rather look pas such, as all you right wingers tend to do.

Posted by: richdj25 | September 3, 2010 2:04 PM

Jena McGregor's analysis above seems totally sophomoric to me and bears no resemblance to the article she links to in Vanity Fair, by Todd Purdum, who discusses many of the factors that make America nearly impossible to govern.

Purdum discusses legislative gridlock, in part due to the filibuster rule which slows legislative action to a crawl. Legislators who spend much of their time fundraising for the next campaign, the power of lobbyists and a media environment that he calls: "hyperkinetic, souped-up, tricked-out, trivialized, and combative."

"Trivialized." As in the piece above, which suggests that President Obama simply do a bit more delegating because that would make the government more manageable.

The Vanity Fair article describes an Obama who is able to stay focused on the needs of the country in a Washington environment that is helter-skelter, unfocused, and constantly bending to media and corporate pressures.

Reading Purdum's article makes me damn glad that Obama is president. The U.S. presidency has become an almost indescribably hard job-- few mortals are up to the task, and our country needs to take a good, hard, look at itself.

Posted by: judeca | September 3, 2010 1:57 PM

Madam what you have described is a characteristic of executives who lack experience. It was pointed out time and time again during the campaign that Mr Obama had no executive experience. Mr Obama reads a speech from a teleprompter better than anyone, but that is no substitute for leadership experience. The country being led off a cliff by this Pied Piper. Pray that we can endure the next 2 1/2 years and hopefully a person with real executive leadership experience will make Me Obama a one term president.

Posted by: VastRightWingConspirator | September 3, 2010 10:56 AM

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