The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

Out of His Depth?

Back in September, around the-I’ll call it-beginning of the financial crisis when TARP I was being discussed, one of the candidates for president made this statement:

“Presidents need to be able to do more than one thing at a time.”

That candidate-Barack Obama-went on to win the election and become President.

Well, a couple months into his administration, the Daily Telegraph is suggesting that now-President Obama may be a bit overwhelmed:

Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been “overwhelmed” by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.

British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.

But Washington figures with access to Mr Obama’s inner circle explained the slight by saying that those high up in the administration have had little time to deal with international matters, let alone the diplomatic niceties of the special relationship.

Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president’s surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.

Much has been made-by several friendly bloggers-of the gifts exchanged between President Obama and Prime Minster Brown (the President gave the Prime Minister a basket of DVDs). While that’s hilarious (Office of Protocol, anyone?), that’s not the angle I want to take.

I want to know if the President’s overextended himself…and I ask that as a-admittedly somewhat-neutral third party.

These things haven’t made a whole lot of news, but since Senator Obama became President Obama:

  • The US may possibly lose its air base in Kyrgyzstan that supports our efforts in Afghanistan
  • North Korea has gotten jumpy again, threatening war if the US shoots down a supposed satellite they want to launch and cutting of diplomatic relations with South Korea
  • Russia is threatening to placing offensive missiles in Europe if the US doesn’t reconsider placing a missile shield in Poland
  • And Iran is…well, being Iran

These things are all true. The Evil BushCo did not make them up, or-in fact-hand them over to the Obama Administration (with the possible exception of Iran).

Now, President Obama’s attention is on the economic crisis, and that’s not a bad place for it to be. But even that’s not working out too well. Consider:

  • Since his election in November, the stock market has dropped 28%. That’s important because stock traders work on a company’s prospective actions, not the ones they’re taking now. Put another way, stocks look forward, not backward. More importantly, the stock market is tied to retirement accounts for…well, just about everyone.
  • The country lost 651,000 jobs in the first full month of the Obama Administration.

Again, things that are all true, and weren’t inherited.


As a citizen-though one who didn’t support Barack Obama-I’ve got some cause for concern. It seems to me that his heart is in the right place-on the financial crisis-but his mind seems to be all over the place. The economy’s continuing to tank, and there’s these little international flareups that could-at just about any moment-become fires.

Economics isn’t my big issue…but if nothing that’s being done in that arena is working, how can I know if anything President Obama does on international problems will work? Or, put another way, how do I know he’ll react at all, besides sending out diplomats with mispelled gifts? Diplomacy and national security aren’t places for theory. Screw up there, and people die.

Coming from a person who claims that he should be able to deal with more than one thing at a time…is President Obama out of his depth?




Written by Coby Dillard

March 9, 2009 at 9:16 am

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