Does Barack Obama have the right personality and character to be a successful president of the United States? After almost four years in office, many Americans are still pondering this question.
The president’s relationship with his constituencies, his own party, his staff, the opposition, Congress, his financial supporters and his wife are all called into question in a new book by Edward Klein titled The Amateur. Judging by the title, you can imagine where the author will go in this tome.
Mr. Klein is a best selling author, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, past foreign editor of Newsweek and former editor-in chief of the New York Times Magazine. "The Amateur" has been severely criticized by Obama supporters as being outright fictitious and/or exaggerated in many parts. Klein deals with a plethora of issues relating to the president’s decisions and philosophy. It also psychoanalyzes his motivations and assesses Obama’s values and character.
The author tells us that he interviewed nearly 200 people, “inside and outside” the White House. Many of those interviewed have known Obama for longer than twenty years dating back to his time in Chicago. He indicates that his notes “tell the story of a man who is . . . temperamentally unsuited to be chief executive and commander in chief of the [U.S.].”
Klein describes Obama as “a president who is inept in the arts of management and governance, who doesn’t learn from his mistakes, and who therefore [proposes] policies that make our economy less robust and our nation less safe. We discover a man who blames all his problems on those with whom he disagrees (‘Washington,’ ‘Republicans,’ ‘the media’), who discards old friends and supporters when they are no longer useful . . . , and who is so thin-skinned that he constantly complains about what people say and write about him. We come to know a strange kind of politician, who derives no joy from the cut and thrust of politics, but who clings to the narcissistic life of the presidency.”
Obama supporters object to him being characterized as a left wing ideologue. However, Klein concluded, “Obama is actually ‘in revolt’ against the values of the society he was elected to lead.” “ . . . he has refused to embrace American exceptionalism . . .” “. . . he has railed at the capitalist system, demonized the wealthy, and embraced the Occupy Wall Street movement.”
I thought my personal feelings toward Obama were harsh until I read portions of this book. I was under the misconception that the president is a “nice” man, an idealistic person, who wants the best for America. Klein paints a different picture using specific interviews to crush all of the positive attributes of Obama espoused by his supporters.
Leading up to the summer of 2012, I was hoping that Hillary Clinton would challenge Obama for the presidential nomination. Every time I expressed this perspective, people, who said it was not feasible politically, beat me down. According to Klein, Bill and Chelsea agreed that Hillary should challenge Obama. In fact, the book indicates that Bill nearly drove Hillary crazy trying to convince her to take on the incumbent. It would have been the first such gambit since Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter.
Klein cites Obama’s personal physician for many years in a critique of Obamacare. The doctor was quoted as saying the health care program would not work, it had no cost controls and Obama did not include anyone on his health care team “who actually practiced medicine . . .”
Obama spent seven years as a State Senator, “[he] was conspicuous by his absence.” One person in the Republican Party leadership said, “He didn’t even show up for picture day, and he didn’t go to committee. He had no interest in the process . . .”
Obama spent a lot of time meeting with Chicagoans and the African-American elite trying to build his reputation and raise money. “Barack was launched by black business people,” claimed one big time black journalist. He spent ‘every Sunday’ with Jesse Jackson honing his speaking skills. “Perhaps out of fear of alienating white voters, Obama never acknowledged his debt to Jesse Jackson.” Obama was successful getting many to help him, but soon left most of them in the dust when he no longer needed them, according to Klein.
His relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Valerie Jarrett are particularly interesting. Wright was Obama’s spiritual guide during the years before he became president. After getting the nomination, Obama dramatically decreased the influence of Wright on his life because he was so radical. Essentially, Obama cast aside a man that was like a surrogate father because his philosophy was so racially explosive.
Jarrett is an African-American elitist according to Klein. She is a product of the Daley political machine in Chicago. She has become the president’s most trusted advisor. Many of the people Klein interviewed indicated that Jarrett is extraordinarily condescending and totally unqualified to help Obama connect with his constituencies.
Some of the most important things Klein said about Obama are that he has a messianic complex and his agenda is very personal. He cares more about himself than his country. And, his skills as judged by people who know him, are not sufficient to effectively lead the country. In my opinion, the latter comment is true.
Obama’s presidency has included one amateur screw up after another. Gitmo, campaign reform, Obamacare, the handling of KSM (the 9/11 mastermind), the negotiation of the debt ceiling, whether or not to go to a Christian church, shovel-ready projects relating to the 2009 stimulus, a warped strategy with Israel, fumbling of the Iran situation, etc.
The assertions in Klein’s reporting are very likely exaggerations that should be discounted, but they should give pause to voters, especially when considered along side of the president’s unfair assault on his opponent's success and personal fortune.