The Campaign Spot

Good Presidents Want to Hear the Bad News

Last week, I wrote about President Obama’s “Mobile Bubble of Happy Talk” — the notion that we on the outside know the scale and depth of the Obamacare mess better than the president does, because we’ve been listening to smart skeptics of his plan like Avik Roy, Bruce Webster, Bob Laszewski, Megan McArdle, and others.

Obama’s bubble extends well beyond the health-care issue, and what’s striking is that no one around him dared point out the risks to a president if he prefers to walk around in a mobile bubble of happy talk.

Don’t Tell President Obama Bad News! He Can’t Deal With ‘the Drama’!

A fascinating bit of political journalism from Gloria Borger:

It’s a real head-scratcher. Most powerful man in the free world. Most important issue. Most politically explosive, particularly coming on the heels of the government shutdown. Consider the context: Republicans had just tried to defund Obamacare, and they lost in a heap of public humiliation. So the rollout of Obamacare had to be really impressive, because the Republicans had to be proven wrong.

And yet, as the dry-runs continued to produce red flags — over and over — the president remained in his steely cocoon. If this were the presidency of George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan, the obvious theories would abound: the chief executive is disengaged. Or incurious. Or worse. But since Obama is none of the above, what gives?

Notice how she just flatly asserts that Obama is not disengaged, incurious, or worse. But what’s even more amazing is that her very next paragraph confirms the possibility she just denied:

This much is clear, after speaking with both past and present senior administration officials: no one was really in charge, so no one knew for sure how bad the overall picture was. What’s more, and — perhaps most telling — no one wanted to even hint to the president that this techno-savvy administration possibly had a website stuck in, say, 1995. “People don’t like to tell him bad news,” says an ex-White House staffer. “Part of it is the no-drama culture.”

It is flat-out impossible to be a good president if you don’t want to hear bad news.


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