Harper on “facing reality”

Harper The failure of President Obama to face reality is the greatest single threat to the survival of the United States as we know it. Whether it is facing the tough choices on Afghanistan, or dealing with an out-of-control breakdown of our economy and our financial system, the President has betrayed a disconnect from reality that is truly alarming. I fear that the President has surrounded himself with a group of sycophants, like Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Larry Summers, Denis McDonough and a few others, who take the old Tip O'Neill saw that `all politics are local' to a new extreme. All politics are electoral! Ignore any reality that jeopardizes reelection fantasies, and just keep spinning reality.
Part of this logic is that the President has to be screened from all unpleasant realities, for fear that his fragile ego will shatter.

I wonder how this White House team will deal with what can only be judged, in reality, as a significant political victory: The freeing of the two American journalists from a North Korean gulag, as the result of effective, low-key and persistent diplomatic efforts by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, capped by the weekend visit of former President Bill Clinton to Pyonyang. The fact that the trip was fully negotiated in advance, the fact that the ex-President spent a reported four hours talking with the reclusive North Korean leader, is, by any stretch, an intelligence coup, as well as a diplomatic coup. But it was a coup executed by Hillary and Bill Clinton, and the President was not the one who got the media kudos.

I see this as a psychological litmus test. Will the President share the spotlight, and rejoice in a true foreign policy victory, with a real human interest face? Or will he persist in seeing his own cabinet and political allies as part of a zero sum game, in which anyone else sharing the spotlight is viewed with fury, and triggers vengeful plotting?

A relatively minor incident in the scheme of things, yes. But psychologically revealing nevertheless. Since Col. Lang chose to present a big picture assessment of just how dangerous this moment is, I thought it appropriate to jump in with a psychological assessment. All politics are truly not local, but very often, politics are subjective, and I think this is one of those moments.   Harper

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10 Responses to Harper on “facing reality”

  1. Bill Wade, NH says:

    Upon seeing the news on TV regarding the release of the two journalists, my better half was rejoicing and gloating: basically, “only Bill Clinton could have pulled this off, he still has it”. She reads the NY Times and believes in it as well. Therefore, I think she thinks like a lot of people so I can only conclude that this event was a major political victory for the Clintons.
    President Obama or someone(s) close to him screwed this up.

  2. Assumption! The US is in a long term realignment of the political party structure. Probably like most of US history a 30-40 years process given the dominance of the two parties and legal struture favoring the donkeys and elephants. Probably could b well documented by a Charlie Cook. Clinton won n 1992 because of Perot. And again in 1996 but a minority President. Looking at 9/11 as an outlier that allowed Republican success in 2004 that was probably not of long run significance. The real story is foreign policy and foreign relations from now on for success of a President. I know! What about the economy stupid? Well the US no longer has an economy that is self-sufficent because of the dominant role played by the highly leveraged FIRE sector. Manufacturing about 10% of GDP or less. It looks like looking back all will be obvious the US borrowed prosperity to the extent it existed from Viet Nam on. Energy still not well understood sector of the economy but fossil fuels will still dominate this century. The real props are the willingness of certain countries to take dollars and allow US to borrow by its Treasury Bond sales. Say what you will the Clinton’s are not perfect but both smart, tough, and experienced. Way beyond the capability of Obama or anyone in the White House team. PL looks now like the Commonwealth of VA will send the first strong signal in less than 100 days that Obama blew his first year in office. Leave it to the commentators to answer why. What I found interesting is the Harper take in the POST echoed oddly by many OBAMA supporters who told me the President really needed that one-meaning release of the reporters. He did need it but as Harper points out may be a difficult victory for OBAMA to claim for himself. My guess is if he tries will be laughed at and that of course is the start of a real downward spiral. He should skip the vacation on the vineyard (however much he needs it) and work work work at Camp David to make up for the damages to his rep and programs from the first 6 months in office. Could it really be with almost 15% unemployment if calculated properly he does NOT get that the vineyard is the wrong signal that he is fighting along side the common man/woman. Hey I could be wrong.

  3. Robert in SB says:

    There was subtext to this posting that reeked of Partisan Politics. He inherited a massive pile of stink from the the previous administration; none of which are righted/solved in 6+ months. Could we give him a year in Office before the armchair quarterback analysis of Obama’s ego? Its been barely 7 months since he took office.

  4. Different Clue says:

    Perhaps professional diplomats and Obama Administration members spent long weeks we don’t know about carefully negotiating with North Korean diplomats and government personnel in order to shape the stage onto which ex-President Clinton could step to negotiate in public for the two hostages. Perhaps this was all arranged to spare the DPRK the “embarrassment” of being seen to release the hostages to US Government personnel. Realeasing them to Clinton could spare DPRK that embarrassment and could also allow DPRK to look generous and magnanimous. Perhaps Clinton understood all about that and was willing to play his visible part.
    Maybe Obama has nothing to feel ashamed of at all.

  5. Jim says:

    Robert in SB, it sounds like Mr. Harper made up his mind about President Obama quite some time ago, and another 5 months or perhaps even 7 years are unlikely to make much of a difference.
    I’m not sure if Harper really inhabits a reality wherein, Bush-like, a vengeful, petty Obama isolates himself in a bubble of toadies, and is outmanoeuvred by his own SecState, who, in a stunning feat of political judo, managed to stick the shiv into the President’s political fortunes while presumably acting on the President’s own directive–or if Harper’s post is merely an elaborate troll. If the latter, well done.
    Either way, I hope he’s not really a psychologist.

  6. jonst says:

    Mr Cummings,
    With due respect, I think Obama should jettison the smell of fear that is pervasive among Dems. And has been since the Clintons, and the Democratic Leadership Counsel types took over the party. Fear of pissing off ‘Right Wing’. A fear that is sucking this nation into a repeat of 63
    He could start by telling people who think one can’t be a “common man” type if one goes to the “vineyard” on vacation, to defecate in their hats. Only he should put it a bit more politely than I would. To wit: ‘I’m going on vacation, I’m going to sip white wine, on the Vineyard, and I’m going to try and relax and enjoy spending time with my wife and kids’ See you when I get back. And don’t worry folks…I’ll learn more up there, simply by reading, than I would staying in DC in Aug. Goodbye’.

  7. harper says:

    For the record, I am a registered Democrat (I supported Hillary Clinton over Obama in the primaries). I was skeptical about Obama from the outset, not because of some Bush GOP loyalty (see my postings during the Bush years and that will be most clear), but out of concern that Mr. Obama had little experience, had even less empathy or connection with the vast majority of Americans, facing an economic crisis, unprescedented since the Great Depression. I hoped for the best, and gave him great credit for choosing an impressive national security and foreign policy team with the likes of Secretary Gates, Secretary Clinton, Gen. Jones and George Mitchell.
    My worst criticism is that Obama has totally bought into the BS from Summers, Geithner and Bernanke, that “what is good for Wall Street is good for Main Street.” Thus, as the IG of TARP admitted last week in Senate hearings, between Bush and Obama, the Fed and Treasury have doled out or pledged $23.7 TRILLION to bail out the banks and insurance companies, and spent almost nothing on infrastructure expansion, productive job creation, etc.
    So my critique of Obama, apart from the admitted non-professional psychological appraisal, is from more of an FDR Democrat standpoint, than a free trade Republican standpoint. More FDR and less Herbert Hoover would do Mr. President well.

  8. R Whitman says:

    What minor league stuff. Clinton and the North Koreans will be forgotten in two weeks. Makes no difference in the White House

  9. “Part of this logic is that the President has to be screened from all unpleasant realities, for fear that his fragile ego will shatter.”
    I can see the risk of there being several “sycophant” types around him, the risk of a loss of perspective…but he does not strike me as somone with a fragile ego. Perhaps the question of how his ego will serve him in the long-term in his presidency is worth asking, but fragile and needing to be protected it does not seem to be.
    [psych-assessment deserves psych-response]
    As to the bulk of the post, it’s felt more a powerful moment for Bill than Hillary (though she of course gets some of the spillover) – good for’em. RE: Obama in all this, I don’t think this reflects all that poorly on him- if anything it could be held as a successful example of his ‘play ball a bit to get things done, dont just ignore em’ foreign policy.

  10. Jose says:

    Obama promised change, but has failed to deliver.
    Right now he looks like a goner, but so did Bill Clinton in his first two years.
    I am a Republican who voted for Obama, but the only thing that could give Obama another landslide is the direction the Republican party is going.
    Remember Bill Clinton’s greatest political asset was the Republican “Contract with America.”
    Things are often ironic, but most of the credit given to Clinton came from the Republicans who tamed the Democratic Congress.
    Giving credit where it due, Bill Clinton deserves all the praise in the world for getting those journalist out.
    I’m not sure of Hilary’s role, but she should explain to Obama to go think outside of the box once in a while.
    Unless his ego could not take it….

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