Politico: President Bystander Uses His Passive Voice


Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere notices that Obama tends to be a bystander within his own administration and the issues it pushes. This goes back to the notion that Obama likes to be president, not do president

President Obama’s Passive Voice

Once again, Barack Obama risks looking like a bystander to his own presidency.

Here’s what he did to kick off the week: assemble a crowd in the Rose Garden to hear him repeat how “frustrated” he was about the many problems that plagued the launch of the Affordable Care Act’s website, promise that a “tech surge” was already on its way to set those problems right and implore people to bear with him until they see what the program can do.

Here’s what he didn’t do: explain why those problems weren’t addressed before the Oct. 1 launch, why he didn’t seem to be aware of them before they went very public, or who would be suffering the consequences for any of it. He didn’t apologize. He announced, in broad terms, who would be coming in to help. But he didn’t say anything about who would be shown the exits.

His “nobody’s madder than me” Monday echoed the kinds of statements he’s repeatedly made about problems over the last few months – “Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it” (the IRS scandal), “It’s not as if I don’t have a personal interest” (the NSA scandal), “This is not a world we should accept” (Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons). He puts himself forward as a man frustrated with what’s happened on his watch, promising change, insisting that nothing of the sort could ever happen again.

He’s good at yapping about problems, but actually dealing with them? Not so much. Any movement on NSA, IRS, or Syria? How about the stonewalling on Benghazi and Fast and Furious?

There’s a level of semantic distance there, though, that often gets interpreted as an inherent refusal to take responsibility. Obama is, after all, the president. He has more than a little say in what happens within his own administration.

Supposedly, Obama was heavily involved in the meetings leading up to the launch of the Exchange website, and Dovore notes

Part of the president’s frustration appears to stem directly from that involvement – the question of why wasn’t he given more accurate or expansive information, or a full sense of the problems once they started to appear.

The question remains, what did he know and when did he know it? Did he not know that his “signature law”, hated by a majority of Americans, was massively complicated, and would mean the website would be massively complicated? Did he not know that the contractor had serious issues? How about that so much of the code was old? Really, launching a website is this age shouldn’t be that difficult. Yet, it was well known by insiders that there were serious problems.

Dovore notes that Obama seemed to have been “blindsided” because other things, like the shutdown, were happening. He always seems to be blindsided by events, because he’s detached from the day to day operations of the job. We still don’t know where he was and what he was doing as Benghazi unfolded. Syria is unfolding and he plays golf.

Just wait till the issues surrounding the actual use of ObamInsurance start. More deer in the headlights followed by “I’m mad” yammer.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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