Cultural Revolutions

Worse Than Obama?

The Obama administration declared the mid-June announcement that BP was establishing an escrow fund worth $20 billion to pay compensation claims to Gulf Coast residents and businesses to be a resounding victory for the White House, but what it actually showed was Obama’s hands-off, indifferent management style, in which nothing is ever clearly or properly delegated.  Whether responding to an unexpected private failure or crafting major legislation, Obama leaves the relevant actors to their own devices, offering little or no guidance as to how they should proceed.  Only when things seem to have reached a critical point does he feel obliged to involve himself directly.  The problem is not that Obama delegates—most successful leaders do—but that he often delegates to the point of abdicating any role at all.  Having contributed remarkably little to the outcome, Obama then takes credit for whatever final product others produce.  This may be clever politics, but one does not have to be a devotee of our presidential cult to see that it is not good leadership.

Unfortunately, Obama is blessed with an opposition that has completely unrealistic expectations of what presidents should do, which makes his underwhelming leadership seem far more defensible.  Many of Obama’s opponents are reflexively hostile to everything remotely associated with him, and this frequently forces them to adopt absurd, politically...

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