Could Obama go rogue if the Senate flips ?

Roger L Simon has an interesting column on the consequences of a GOP win this fall.

Barack Obama is a man unaccustomed to losing. Life has been exceptionally kind to him, sailing, as he did, through balmy Oahu sunsets, college, law school and career on into the presidency with scarcely a bump. He has been a protected man beyond any in recent memory, feted and praised virtually everywhere he went until the last couple of years. Even now, despite catastrophe after catastrophe, there are acolytes who continue to celebrate him, paying tens of thousands merely to have their photographs taken with him.

When such cosseted people are forced to confront failure, they typically do not do so with grace.

Obama’s style of governing seems to be quite unusual for modern presidents. He does not have a circle of “Wise Men” as most presidents have done, including Bill Clinton, who had Robert Rubin advising him on economics and the bond market.

Obama, instead, relys on a small circle of advisors with little or no experience in national affairs.

Insider books by Robert Gates, Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta have appeared in rapid succession, implying or directly alleging that the president lives in a bubble, unwilling to listen to advice. He frequently threatens to — and sometimes does — go around the Congress to get his way via, often unconstitutional, executive fiat. We all know that he lies, constantly.

His closest advisor appears to be Valerie Jarrett who has no policy experience and who seems to be a Chicago insider.

Jarrett is one of three senior advisers to President Obama. She holds the retitled position of assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs and public engagement, managing the White House Office of Public Engagement, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Office of Urban Affairs; she also chairs the White House Council on Women and Girls and the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic, and Youth Sport.

None of this seems to be a role in foreign policy for the Iranian born Jarrett.

Another article from Reuters tries to understand how American foreign policy is decided.

Obama’s handling of Syria – the early about-face, the repetitive debates, the turnabout in September – is emblematic, say current and former top U.S. officials, of his highly centralized, deliberative and often reactive foreign policy.

They say Obama and his inner circle made three fundamental mistakes. The withdrawal of all American troops from neighboring Iraq and the lack of a major effort to arm Syria’s moderate rebels, they say, gave Islamic State leeway to spread. Internal debates focused on the costs of U.S. intervention in Syria, while downplaying the risks of not intervening. And the White House underestimated the damage to U.S. credibility caused by Obama’s making public threats to Assad and then failing to enforce them.

Who is the “inner circle?”

Decisions small as well as large are made at the White House, often with scant influence from the Pentagon and State Department and their much larger teams of analysts and advisers. Senior Cabinet officials spend long hours in meetings debating tactics, not long-term strategy, the officials said.

Robert S. Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Damascus, recalled long meetings to debate small issues, such as which Syrian opposition members he could meet with and whether it was okay to give cell phones, media training and management classes to a local Syrian government council controlled by the opposition.

Obviously they are not the Constitutional officers of government.

In some ways, Obama’s closer control and the frequent marginalization of the State and Defense departments continues a trend begun under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

But under Obama, the centralization has gone further. It was the White House, not the Pentagon, that decided to send two additional Special Operations troops to Yemen. The White House, not the State Department, now oversees many details of U.S. embassy security – a reaction to Republican attacks over the lethal 2012 assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. A decision to extend $10 million in nonlethal aid to Ukraine also required White House vetting and approval.

On weightier issues, major decisions sometimes catch senior Cabinet officers unawares. One former senior U.S. official said Obama’s 2011 decision to abandon difficult troop negotiations with Baghdad and remove the last U.S. soldiers from Iraq surprised the Pentagon and was known only by the president and a small circle of aides.

One “senior advisor” is Ben Rhodes who has a background including a Master’s degree in “fiction writing.”

Rhodes was the adviser who counseled Obama to withdraw support from Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, becoming a key adviser during the 2011 Arab Spring. Both of those policies were disasters. This seems to be a recommendation to an administration that chooses tax evaders as Treasury Secretary.

During his confirmation, it was disclosed that Geithner had not paid $35,000 in Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes from 2001 through 2004 while working for the International Monetary Fund. The IMF, as an international agency, did not withhold payroll taxes, but instead reimbursed the usual employer responsibility of these taxes to employees. Geithner received the reimbursements and paid the amounts received to the government, but had not paid the remaining half which would normally have been withheld from his pay. The issue, as well as other errors relating to past deductions and expenses, were noted during a 2006 audit by the Internal Revenue Service. Geithner subsequently paid the additional taxes owed.

Then we have the abysmal IRS situation. Simon is worried about more than the present scandals.

The Environmental Protection Agency could become a virtual American gestapo, changing the fabric of our lives, while all sorts of rules and regulations pour down, impoverishing America in the name of income inequality or the all-important “fairness.”

Look for the race card to be played as never before. A man like Obama would much prefer to blame the color of his skin for his failures than his policies. Then he would have to evaluate himself.

A president Obama, facing a GOP majority in both houses of Congress and a foreign policy disaster, might have real problems with his control and his emotions. Bill Clinton, a more experienced politician had an emotional meltdown after the 1994 election.

Clinton downplayed the fact that his press conference was only picked up by one major network, saying “I am relevant. The Constitution gives me relevance. A president, especially an activist president has relevance.” Clinton sought to paint himself as a moderating influence on the House, and said he had shown “good faith” toward Republicans.

Clinton was a far more experienced man and less of an ideologue than Obama. We will be entering a period of real uncertainty after November. It might be a dangerous period for us, as well. An Ebola outbreak in Central America, for example, could create a worse immigration crisis.

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