Aug 31, 2009
One of Bob Oster’s CEO friends wrote this. Bob respects him highly. (For those on this list who don’t know Bob: he was CFO of Oracle when it went public, also CFO of Syntex, and holds a Ph.D. in economics from Berkeley. Since 1987, he has been an angel investor and private VC. He is on the Board of Overseers at the Hoover Institution.)
My 6 Month Evaluation of the Obama Presidency
In November 2008 I wrote out my evaluation of the Obama candidacy and what it might mean to America. I filed this away, but sent it to family members and a few close friends and associates just so I’d be accountable for my real time observations. It’s now been 6 months since Obama’s inauguration. (In the business world, this is typically when a first job review would occur; so, I made a note to myself to revisit his performance on the 6-month anniversary.)
Thus, I now commit to filing my mid-year evaluation of our new President. As well, I’ve put in the file (but not forwarded to anyone) a separate “background check” — the one the press should’ve done on the Obama candidacy prior to presenting him to the American public — in case this is ever of relevance as things unfold.
As concerned as I was by Obama’s candidacy when I wrote out my November pre-election reservations, truth be known, I didn’t much like McCain/Palin either. At the time, I still had hopes that Obama might “govern from the center.” Six months into it, however, I can say that he’s been considerably worse than my worst fears. Thus, I’m updating my evaluation — this time with the fervent hope that by the year-end I can be genuinely more optimistic.
I’ve concluded that not only was Barack Obama too inexperienced to be President, but he also appears to be incompetent as an executive, more-than-just-politician-level-dishonest and a bit of a narcissist (if not a fascist). He seems to have little understanding of American history, her dreams, or her tremendous potential for risk-taking, self-correction and innovation. He and Michelle have turned out to be quintessential Ivy League “Oppression Studies majors” with (carefully concealed) “attitudes.” Obama seems, above all, to be a Community Organizer with shakedown credentials and extraordinary speaking ability.
All of this should have been clear — had we simply done serious background checks.
The following 4 items, at least, should have been clear to voters:
1. His surrogate father figure was Frank Marshall Davis, an avowed Communist.
2. Barack served as a committed trainer for Community Activist and Marxist Saul Alinsky.
3. He sat for nearly 2 decades at the feet of Jeremiah Wright, an angry, anti-American “Black Liberation Theologist”.
4. His first autobiography, Dreams from My Father, was almost certainly ghost-written by William Ayers, a Vietnam-era domestic terrorist. This last assertion has now been supported by careful analysis of syntax, spelling and common errors.
If these unusual threads (standing alone) are discounted to the point of not being disqualifiers, those evaluating Barack Obama might have considered that he’d never held a job in the private sector, managed a payroll, led a turnaround or held any sort of executive position.
But, none of this mattered in the fall of 2008. After 6 months, I’m left wondering if power brokers on the Far Left of American politics aren’t pinching themselves at their success in creating a fictitious character the press ushered to market in a Bush-weary and “politically correct” America.
In his second(!) autobiography, The Audacity of Hope, Obama recognizes the advantage of his tabula rasa “creation” when he writes, “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”
And, project we did! Thus, the former Barry Soetero of Honolulu, Jakarta, Mombasa, Occidental, Columbia, Harvard and the mean streets of Chicago moved at light speed from being the first-term senator nobody had ever heard of to President of the United States. In the process, despite numerous efforts, no one has yet seen his birth certificate, his college transcripts, his application to Occidental (likely as a “foreign student”?), or the passport he used to travel in 1981 to Pakistan with buddy Wahid Hamid (likely an Indonesian one?).
For some reason, the Obama campaign has, so far, spent $3/4 million keeping these records out of public view. So, it’s easy to wonder — if they supported Obama’s putative CV — why not make them available and put to rest all suspicions about provenance, training and politics?
My growing hunch is that there’s virtually no paper trail because the Obama biography has been created largely out of whole cloth. There — I’ve said what increasing numbers of people must be thinking, but are afraid to voice. But, whether or not Obama is more than a cleverly-marketed fiction, and whatever one thinks of his history, one thing is clear. He finally does have a record to evaluate. And, it’s not a confidence-inspiring one from my standpoint.
At best, Obama is an attractive symbol for America and a compelling communicator; but he’s NOT an executive. He’s shown an utter inability to focus, to set priorities and to consider 2nd and 3rd order or long-term consequences to his actions. Lack of focus on priorities is fatal as a CEO; (but, maybe less so for a political leader?)
Obama clearly does not see his primary job as one of overseeing the security and well-being of America during his tenure as its chief executive. He’s not only unwilling to stand up for America, but he also regularly seems to go out of his way to apologize for her history. This makes it apparent that he believes his most important job is to change America into what he and Michelle think it should have been had we not suffered the Founders’ flawed vision.
At worst, Obama’s aims seem truly radical (if stealth); his methods pure Alinsky; and his success derivative of obfuscating the truth, creating crises, and rushing changes into law that no one can possibly absorb under artificial deadlines — all aimed at limiting private property rights, changing the Constitution and forever altering our free market system?
For those who consider Obama’s training and background irrelevant, they can now evaluate him as a Commander-in-Chief and CEO from what he’s done over his first 6 months. Among many other things, these evidences have come in the form of:
* A $787 Billion “stimulus” package (sold as preventing a “crisis from becoming catastrophe”)
* The failure to focus on addressing the banking crisis as “Job One”
* The migration of TARP funds to non-banking concerns, viz., auto industry
Announcing tax increases in the middle of a recession
* Failure to identify projects to fund job creation (Thus, <10% of stimulus yet spent)
* Announcing that there would be “no pork” or “earmarks” in the “stimulus” package in order to get it passed without review when there were nearly 10,000 buried in the unread bill (including a $9 Billion high-speed rail line to Las Vegas for Harry Reid)
* Bailouts of the banking and auto industries.
* The appointment of a 31-year-old to manage the recreation of the auto companies
The exalting of union claims above those of bondholders (violating a 200+ year history of contract law/property rights)
* The appointment of 34 unvetted “czars” — creating more than in the House of Romanov between 1762 and 1917!
* The failure to appoint a Cabinet of tax-paying, competent Americans (reason for the move to the Czar system of administration?)
* The appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court despite an apparent lack of qualifications and judicial temperament.
* The dark-of-night passage of “Cap and Trade” legislation (300-page-long addendum inserted at 3AM the morning of the vote in the House)
* The high pressure tactics to rush through a budget-busting $1.6T takeover of healthcare.
* Phony “townhall” meetings with a fake cross-section of Americans selling Obamacare on ABC.
* Lying about budget deficits — projecting 4% GDP growth by year-end.
* Lying about job losses — projecting that if Congress would just ram through the “stimulus” that job losses could be halted at 8% (currently on their way to 10% and rising).
* Lying about the costs of nationalized healthcare — (just as when politicians projected Medicare’s cost in 1990 to be $3 billion, its actual cost turned out in 1990 to $98 billion — 30 times as much). Claiming “free” healthcare will make America more competitive is baffling. Everyone knows the above are lies; but no one seems ready to call them out.
* Pretending that new entitlement programs will provide lower costs, better care, no significant tax increases, more competition (as government joins the fray!?) and keeping current private options.
* Forcing the “stimulus” package on states against their will
* Failing to support the freedom-loving citizens in Honduras and Iran (and instead, giving comfort to their dictators) to say nothing of his ineffectiveness with North Korea and anti-Israeli pronouncements.
* Allocating $4B of “stimulus” funds to ACORN, the voter fraud thugs.
* Seeking to push through Union Card Check, the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” and threats to take away 2nd amendment rights (see Eric Holder), etc.
* Moving the heretofore non-partisan census into the White House under the direction of Rahm Emanuel.
Whatever one thinks of the results, the process of getting to them should bother all Americans. In the Obama (Mayor Daley?) style of governing, it’s not clear that Congress — who can’t possibly process thoughtfully the blizzard of legislation — really serves any useful purpose other than to provide Politburo-style cover. Not only does Congress no longer debate legislation, but Obama has effectively circumvented its oversight of the executive branch by his appointment of czars.
In contrast to the direction Obama is taking us all, the Economist recently pointed out that 53% of all of the jobs created in the U.S. were created in one state last year: Texas (the most free market of all State economies and the “last best hope” [ha!] for secession?). Meanwhile, in California, — as a perfect preview to “Obama’s America” — job losses are already well into double digits, the state faces a $25B budget deficit and is closing down services and considering bankruptcy. I cannot predict what will happen to Obama’s popularity, as people wake up to the size and intractability of the deficits he’s promoting, the unavailability of credit for small businesses, or the increased tax rates on energy and payrolls provoking a continuing loss of jobs as small businesses shed employees due to skyrocketing costs.
But is bad economic news bad for Obama? Sadly, the answer, if one studies the Alinsky formula for bloodless revolution, is “Heck no!” Indeed, high unemployment is necessary for the Obama Redistribution Plan. According to Alinsky, only with high unemployment will people look to the government for help (and then become dependent), allowing government to gain control over the factors of productions. If one considers that the Alinsky manual might be Obama’s “playbook,” one can’t help but want to evaluate how closely it’s being followed.
Thus, in evaluating Obama’s performance, it’s probably worth noting (for the 6-month record) the key elements of the Alinsky formula.
Written in 1971 by Chicago Organizer, Saul Alinsky, under the title of Rules for Radicals, this manual for effective change became Young Barack Obama’s “bible.” David Alinsky - son the author - said of our new President: “Barack Obama patterned himself after the Saul Alinsky model in everything he has done since arriving in South Chicago.”
Alinsky clearly stated its purpose: “Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution.”
Note how closely Obama is following the rules for internal revolution, based on Alinsky’s specific instructions:
* Pursue an “Ideology of Change” (Alinsky’s phrase for the most effective way to market revolution)
* Target the banks that serve the steel, auto, and other industries.
* Start class warfare — Fuel the anger of what Alinsky calls the “Have-Nots,” and the “Have-some-but-want-mores” against the “Haves.”
* Use crises to create fear.
* Use pollution as a foil to grab power.
* Set up “jobs programs” to make workers dependent on government.
* Show supreme self-confidence.
* Make communication skills your key weapon.
* Use simple catch phrases and vague slogans (‘Of the Common Welfare, [Nazi takeover of Germany], ‘Bread and Peace,’ [Bolshevik Revolution]) In this context, it’s not hard to imagine that Change & The Audacity of Hope will one day be seen as the battle cry for the Obama revolution.
* Use deception –“…in war the end justifies almost any means.”
* Remain calm, appealing and likable while inciting fear, conflict and defeat.
As these steps are being pursued, the press continues to refer to “the Republican recession,” so Obama’s popularity remains high. Any who saw tapes of President Bush warning Congress (on two separate occasions) that the market was headed for disaster unless it instituted the very reforms Barney Frank and Chris Dodd pooh-poohed, may be surprised to see the level of “cover” the press is providing this revolution.
As bleak as things look for free markets, I have hope. Why? Just as Bernie Madoff learned that ponzi schemes eventually come to light — Barack Obama may soon learn that you “can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
It’s unclear to me how much and how long America will have to pay for its experiment with Obamunism — his fantasy “green jobs,” his new taxes, his junk science, his czars, his meddling in the auto and banking industries, his sure-to-be-disastrous Obamacare and the encouragement he’s giving to union bosses, dictators and tyrants the globe over, to say nothing of his “Peace-through-Weakness” foreign policy. But, at some point, reality will take over, as it always does. I just hope America will have its Winston Churchill or Ronald Reagan ready to step into the breach when the time comes.
So far, the nervousness of Blue Dog Democrats and their ability to resist some of the wackier directives has been the only thing that has kept Obama from an outright failing grade, in my view. Perhaps, just as the Gingrich Congress rescued Bill Clinton, it may be these so-called Blue Dogs that rescue Obama. If not, it may be important for the survival of the union for government to be forever split between the parties — beginning in 2010.