There's a saying that goes "death by a thousand paper cuts". This means that one individual makes a bunch of little mistakes that ultimately turn into a big mistake that they can't fix. The president is doing something similar but his mistakes aren't small individually but rather huge and taken together he's experiencing death by a thousand machetes.
1) Health Care
There are mistakes on top of mistakes. We're a day away from his make or break speech and it's clear that he won't commit one way or another on the public option. Without a commitment on the public option, he has no plan. No one can judge the plan without knowing if it's in there or not. Of course, the president can't commit because commitment means that he loses too many votes to get it done. There aren't enough votes in the Senate to include the public option and there aren't enough votes in the House if you take it out.
Because he can't commit on the public option, he's left with a disjointed message. Last week, Nancy Pelosi went from saying without a public option there is no bill. Then, she said maybe there is. Then, she said if there's a trigger it will be a very robust trigger that will lead to a robust public option. So, which way is it? No one knows.
Just think about that for a minute. We're in the seventh month of this debate and we still don't know if the President is making the public option a make or break. We're in the seventh month of this thing and there are no less than four bills, and the president is putting out feelers for him to craft a bill. So, we'll soon have five competing bills. Yet, one of the biggest problems with health care reform is that the folks are confused. They should be. Four different committees have passed a version. The House bill is 1000 plus pages. The Senate bill is 600 plus pages, and no one will commit to anything beyond that. Now, the president wants to add another bill on top of this. That's just slicing his own hands.
2) Van Jones and the Czars
This really couldn't have come at a worse time. With the resignation of Van Jones, the flood gates have opened. The White House stipulated that Jones wasn't vetted properly. So, questions will be asked about who else wasn't vetted properly. It raises questions both about the number of czars and the number of radicals.
Of course, in the Obama administration, there's a plethora of both. So, folks like Glenn Beck will have a field day for months hyperanalyzing everyone from Cass Sunstein to Jon Holdren to Dr. Zek Emanuel and everyone in between. Here, Obama has two problems. First, it's of dubious Constitutional mustard to have czars to begin with, and 33 czars is simply out of control. So, the entire czar system is going to be under the microscope. He also has a lot of radicals in his administration. So, soon we're going to have a new radical to talk about nearly everyday.
So, think about that for a minute. At the same time he is trying to pass health care reform, a segment of the media will be asking questions about dozens of people that had no Congressional hearings, had no vetting, and are in nebulous positions of power in his administration. That's not exactly going to curry favor with the public.
Could he screw this up any worse? Just imagine a weak and beaten President Obama with no health care reform, no energy reform, and no financial overhaul in January of next year. He'll have no power to do anything and yet his own self imposed deadline will come due. So, of course, he'll have to go back on his own statement that GITMO will be closed. He makes it worse every single day by sticking steadfast to his commitment to shut it down. There's no way he's going to shut it down. He's going to tell his supporters it will be closed and then come the end of next January, it will still be open.
3) The CIA investigation
Does he really need yet another head ache? Well, he's about to get one. Soon, a special prosecutor will investigate Bush era CIA agents about potential misconduct. These cases, as we all know, have already been investigated twice by two different administrations. No charges were filed yet. Yet, AG Eric Holder feels the need to investigate some more and he named a special prosecutor. Well, this is obviously going to get partisan. Most of the public wants no part of it. The CIA is obviously unhappy. On top of it, Obama is moving for most interrogations to be done out of the White House itself. If there's an attack anytime in his administration, this will all be used to bludgeon him. Even now, it's so simple to paint him as weak and against the military.
4)Obama versus the voters
This is just stunning. Obama has consistently down played the tea parties. He dismisses them and acts as though they aren't even happening. Then, he dismissed the town halls. He implied that those that attended were part of nefarious organizations, they weren't speaking their true beliefs, and that they are extremists. All of these people vote, and it's simply stunning to have a politician demean a class of voters like this. He didn't stop there. When some parents objected to parts of his speech, the administration called the complaints "silly". They did this all while changing part of the lesson plan in response to the complaints. It goes without saying that taking on the voters is simply stupid. To do it systematically like this is stunningly stupid.
5) Obama Vs. Fox News
It's no less stunning to have a politician, a President at that, single out one media and try and demonize them. He's done it over and over. Fox News gets exponentially higher ratings than any other news outlet. So, why would you attack the station so systematically? All you're doing is alienating all the viewers. President Obama may think that it's all right wing nuts that watch Fox News but there's simply too many people watching for them all to be in one political ideology.
6) Iran and the Middle East
While Obama's administration is in total chaos domestically, foreign policy is not being addressed at all. Little movement is being done on Iran. We're about to lose in Afghanistan and we're even starting to lose again in Iraq. Obama isn't even paying attention. At some point before his first term ends, Iran will need to be confronted. If nothing is done soon, that confrontation will get violent, and that will be laid at the feet of Obama. If we lose in Afghanistan, that is also on his watch. It was candidate Obama that called Afghanistan the good war and promised commitment to victory. He hasn't shown that commitment yet and in the meantime, things are deteriorating quickly. It's clear there is no plan yet. It's clear that there's no plan for the GWOT entirely. This is all playing out and soon enough, the consequences of having no plan will be felt by all.
Please check out my new books, "Prosecutors Gone Wild: The Inside Story of the Trial of Chuck Panici, John Gliottoni, and Louise Marshall" and also, "The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers"