A Year and a Half of President Obama
Team Obama marks 18 surprisingly incompetent months in office.


Deroy Murdock

As the Obama administration marks 18 months in power today, no one should be terribly surprised that it is the hardest-Left U.S. government since that of FDR. For those who paid attention, Obama’s hyperliberal U.S. Senate record pierced like a dive light through the squid ink of Hope and Change that Obama squirted at anyone who demanded programmatic specifics. (At 95.5 percent in 2007, according to the National Journal, Obama was the Senate’s No. 1 Left-liberal.)

However, after Obama’s nearly flawless campaign (rattled by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s racist rants, but little else), the big surprise one and a half years after Obama’s momentous and truly moving inauguration is the staggering incompetence of his government. Like some Americans, I expected a nanny-state, socialist agenda from Obama & Co. However, I thought that at least they would manage things smoothly and professionally, in somewhat refreshing contrast to the general ineptitude of the detached, tongue-tied Bush-Rove years. Instead, what America and the world have witnessed is an extravaganza of frequent gaffes, blunders, and catastrophes:

February 2009 brought news that Obama had shipped off to the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., a bust that former prime minister Tony Blair had presented to Pres. George W. Bush soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks. This was not a sculpture of Mr. Bean, but rather of Winston Churchill. Among other things, this legendary statesman helped drive Adolf Hitler to suicide. If Obama dislikes Churchill, he could have moved the bust from the Oval Office to the Cabinet Room, the State Department, or even the Smithsonian, especially after the British offered to let the U.S. government keep it for four more years. Instead, Obama exhibited the kind of discourtesy that any third grader would avoid: The last thing a nine-year-old would do is send a gift back to the giver. If one doesn’t care for a gift, one just smiles, accepts it, and shoves it in a closet. Obama spurned that basic social grace and, instead, kicked hot gravel into the eyes of America’s closest ally, alongside whom we currently are fighting in Afghanistan. Wasn’t Obama supposed to be the antidote to George Bush, reputedly the self-absorbed amateur who alienated America’s friends?

The Obama administration decided to update photographs of Air Force One in action. Why not show the presidential jet flying over Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty? Great idea! Team Obama could have arranged to take those pictures during a scheduled presidential trip, and invited the public to witness the excitement from below. Instead, on April 27, 2009, Air Force One flew to New York sans the commander-in-chief and started circling Lady Liberty while “posing” with a fighter jet hot on its tail. Manhattanites ran for their lives, fearing that another September 11–style assault was underway. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who got no advance notice of this plan, called it “an ill-considered, badly conceived, insensitive photo op — with the taxpayers’ money.”

Obama leapt into the controversy over Cambridge, Mass., police sergeant James Crowley’s arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. (Crowley had responded to a call about a break-in; it turned out that Gates owned the house into which he and a cab driver had forced their way; Gates became belligerent about being confronted by the officer, and Crowley arrested him for disorderly conduct.) As this case unfolded, Obama opined that Crowley had “acted stupidly.” The ensuing ethnic uproar made Americans hot and bothered, as such imbroglios usually do.