Archive for May 5th, 2011

Taking Their Victory Lap in a Clown Car

Yes, I know, he’s right there in that photograph of the senior staff watching the bin Laden operation on the live feed.  (Think about that for a moment.  We’re commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Lincoln used to spend a lot of time over at the War Department Telegraph Office waiting for scraps of war news from a couple of hundred miles away.  Nowadays he could just dial up a live feed from anywhere on the planet.)

And now, two apparently inside stories indicating that the President either didn’t get around to making an actual decision, or took 16 hours to do so.

I have no idea how much to credit these stories (although it would fit in with at least one fellow’s relatively generous reading of Obama’s presidency).  Politically, it is remarkable that within 72 hours of the President’s first only real accomplishment, someone inside the White House is putting about stories designed to undermine the President for that very accomplishment?

Typically, this sort of thing would take weeks to develop.  The fellow in question would want to see how the polls were moving, whether or not there was traction.  Right now, in the warm afterglow of the already-room-temperature remains, would be the last time you’d expect an insider to go around putting knives in the back of the Hero of Abbottabad.  This should be a moment when Obama begins to turn things around, and instead, you’ve got British newspapers and American blogs making the President out to be a spectator at his own presidency.

William Daley was supposed to provide gravitas, professionalism, stability, and order to a White House Staff that was looking terribly undisciplined.  Instead, while the operation itself was brilliantly done, they’ve gotten just about everything since wrong.  From the changing stories, to the photographs, to the disposal of the body, to the speech itself.  That along with announcing an intelligence bonanza to the world, “the world” including our enemies.  No, I don’t think they’re lying about what happened; those images can move awfully fast, and it’s just normal fog-of-war stuff; but why rush out with a story you’re going to have to correct?  Why dither for two days about whether or not to release the death scene photographs?  In short, they’re “taking their victory lap in a clown car.”

There’s a point in a market, when it’s near it’s top, that even good news isn’t good news.  Strong earnings reports, hiring reports, strong consumer confidence, all get shrugged aside because there’s a feeling that the market just has no upside to it.  When you have some experience with the market, sometimes you can sniff that out, and let me tell you, it’s a great time to be in cash.

I wonder if something similar isn’t going on here with this President.  They were fond of deriding their predecessors for having won the war, but not having a plan for the peace.  In this case, they won the assault, but didn’t have a plan for the rest of the piece.  As a result, someone inside the Administration isn’t afraid of putting knives in his boss’s back, even when you’d think it would be a good time to lay low and start spiriting out your diaries for a book deal.

For a politician, especially an executive, that’s abbottabad as it gets.


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