Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Latest bit of nonsense: Obama is "too busy"

A meme that I have been trying to avoid is the idea that Obama is "too busy" these days. The corollary is that, by taking on too many large projects at once, he is distracted from the most important ones. Does he really need to take on health care as he's fixing the economy, getting us out of Iraq, dealing with the Middle East, etc?

Yes, he needs to deal with all of these things. Matt Cooper at TPM has a good takedown on the whole issue.

The problem is not with Obama. He is clearly capable of multitasking. I remember him holding a press conference the day after the election and announcing Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. I was prepared to take a couple of days off, but not Obama! I have trouble just blogging about everything.

The problem is with the rest of us, particularly those in the media. They are used to a president with decidedly average intelligence, who not only didn't multitask, he barely unitasked. It was easy to follow Bush's policy innovations, because they were few and far between. Suddenly keeping up with the president is hard work, and they're not used to it. But instead of adjusting properly and figuring out how to deal with the need for more intellectual bandwidth on their part, they're blaming Obama.

Of course, Republicans are playing a part. They're having the same problem as the media: they're even more used to defending a president with not much going on. All they had to do was repeat the same talking points. Attacking a president with lots of initiatives is a completely different story. They don't want Obama to juggle juggle juggle, because that makes their jobs much, much harder. They actually have to think.

Obama is also in very good shape physically, which gives him another advantage, because he has lots of energy. He's also extremely disciplined, which is very different from not only Bush, but Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Reagan, for that matter.

We haven't had a president this smart, focused, and disciplined, taking on this many problems, since, well, I don't know when. Johnson had a huge war on his hands, and he shook up large chunks of society, but the economy was basically in good shape. Roosevelt had to deal with the Great Depression, but he didn't have to deal with war until his third term.

So if you hear Republicans or commentators questioning Obama's ability to handle many things at once, remember that defense mechanisms come in lots of different shapes and sizes.


Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree, about the comment from a republican this week, that their efforts to dissemble, create a negative impression of congress for the 2010 elections....are not a spring, but a marathon, and they will repeat and repeat and repeat to regain their power. Love Friedman's column.....where he talks about the repub's playing politics while the nation goes down.....this is not a practice run!

gwennegaia said...

oops......meant to say 'this is not a sprint, but a marathon'......