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Pocket-sized POTUS
WRM on Our "Incredible Shrinking President"

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?

The answer:

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.

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  • johngbarker

    Seldom in the history of the Presidency has so much eloquence been spent to purchase such little effect.

    • Andrew Allison


    • Corlyss

      Oh, I don’t know. Seems to me he’s, set us firmly on the course of purposeful programmed decline to serve the BS “social justice” goals he learned at the knees of his grandparents and that socialist he attached himself to.

  • Curious Mayhem

    Really, is it any surprise? A massively overrated narcissist, and the most extreme case of affirmative action ever, promoted by plutocrats.

  • Angel Martin

    “…Obama still may have a chance to regain control of both the domestic and international agendas, but to do that he’s going to have to change his approach. ”

    i’m amazed that Professor Mead still thinks that obama has any chance of turning this around.

    this guy has no prior history of ever overcoming adversity, and no indication that he has been able to make a major change in direction in his life and turn around a losing situation.

    Hell, during the 2008 campaign he complained that he was learning to function on 6 hours sleep !

    what a joke !

    anyone that has been in the army, ran a small business, had a job that was going badly, worked and went to school at the same time, had a multi hour commute, juggled childcare and work, worked two jobs… etc has had to deal with not enough sleep

    obama floated thru life until he ran for president, missing all these sorts of stressors. what he thinks as a terrible burden of high office is the normal situation for most people, and they don’t get waited on hand and foot by a taxpayer paid staff of hundreds.

    instead of fantasies of an obama turnaround, what public intellectuals like Professor Mead need to be thinking about is – another 30 months of this guy doing the same thing, how do we minimize the damage?

    • Why123456789

      “this guy has no prior history of ever overcoming adversity, and no indication that he has been able to make a major change in direction in his life and turn around a losing situation.”

      He grew up black without his dad in the 70s-80s, went to Harvard, married a successful woman and supported a family. But that’s probably not a popular post on

      • Corlyss

        Where is the adversity in that capsule?

  • Corlyss

    Obama is NOT abandoning his policy mischief. He will continue wreak havoc on American society and prosperity thru executive action. He is singularly inept at The Art of political compromise and exhibits a unique contempt for Congress, even when law dictates the latter’s participation. He don’t need no stinkin’ Congress!

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