America has gotten to witness two “great recessions”: the economic stagnation, and the long, slow decline of the Obama presidency. Walter Russell Mead examines the latter in a recent piece for the New York Daily News. He asks:
Why […] does a feisty President with more power than any of his peacetime predecessors, one who is determined to use those powers to the max, look so much a victim of events he can’t control?
It isn’t for lack of ambition; Obama aspires to be a transformational leader at home and abroad. The ACA attempts to redesign an industry that accounts for 17.2 % of GDP. The EPA’s new regulations cover 66% of the country’s energy production. Overseas, he’s picked goals like getting a global climate treaty, destroying Al-Qaeda, democratizing the Arab world, eliminating nuclear weapons and achieving détente with Iran.These are big goals; achieving them would give Obama a significant place in the history books. But there’s a catch; large and complex projects are hard to carry out, and the President seems to consistently underestimate the difficulties in turning compelling visions into practical programs. As a result, he now finds himself haunted by goals and expectations he set for himself, caught in a gap between promise and performance that has proved unexpectedly hard to close.
For the rest of this penetrating look at our “incredible shrinking President,” read the whole thing.