One of Lyndon Johnson’s press secretaries, George Christian, once said that no one should be allowed to work in the West Wing who has not suffered a major disappointment in life — the atmosphere is too intoxicating and the power too great for callow young things who do not know from personal experience how badly things can go wrong.Two hundred (or so) days later we can see how sensible Murray's fear was. Obama's shown his instinctive reaction when faced "with no good option, only a choice among bad options": paralysis. Deeply worrisome in a chief executive.
Unlike George Christian, we don’t have to worry about just a few special assistants. We have a president who, from the time he entered Honolulu’s Punahou School as a teenager, has lived a magical life. Everything has gone right for decades now. Nor are any of his aides crouching beside him in the chariot whispering, “You too are mortal.” On the contrary, if we are to judge by Larry Summers, even his most astute advisers suppress what they know to be true to accommodate Mr. Obama’s wishes.
Down the road, the president’s economic policy will engender a new crisis that, to be met, will require him to reassess his assumptions and to defy his political base — and we haven’t a shard of evidence that he is able to do either of those things. Down the road, a hostile world will require him to make a foreign-policy decision with no good option, only a choice among bad options, in the face of horrific consequences if he is wrong — and we haven’t a shard of evidence that he is able to do that. Worst of all, he will come to those pivotal moments serenely confident that whatever he decides will work out.
How do I think about the Obama presidency as I look ahead? I’m scared stiff.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Charles Murray wrote this in April for an NRO symposium on Obama's first hundred days: