Archive for the ‘presidency’ Category

President Obama: Expect The Unexpected, Avoid Contrivance

January 25, 2009

When President-elect Barack Obama phoned Yo-Yo Ma and invited him to “perform” at his inauguration, he probably had no idea that would cascade into a pre-recorded gig with space heaters.

“Performance” became contrivance.

And when the Chief Justice of the United States raised his right hand for the oath of office, soon to be President Obama probably never dreamed that John Roberts would flub the big moment, necessitating a re-do.

And when the media wasn’t invited to the do-over, probably nobody expected a flap.

These are small things but these are the easy to manage small things.

The Presidency is about eliminating the easy to manage small things, that are not expected by some people,  and managing well the unexpected big things….

The president has a big staff and a big administration to manage the routine routinely and to get past the flaps without flapping.

President Obama stuck with his script this week with few surprises.  He signed a Gitmo proclamation, and sent money to abortions.

But there are plenty of unexpected big things yet to manage; so now is the time to get the entire administration team performing like a Super Bowl winning team.

Last minute pre-recordings and do-overs won’t do from now on.  The Presidency is mostly “live”….

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Obama’s First Few Days: Scripted With Few Surprises

From Fox News

In the highly scripted first days, Obama clearly aimed to show that he was making good on his promise to bring change.

“What an opportunity we have to change this country,” the Democrat told his senior staff the day after his inauguration. “The American people are really counting on us now. Let’s make sure we take advantage of it.”

On Thursday and Friday, Obama, with an executive pen in his left hand, overruled eight years of Bush administration policies, signing several executive orders on national security and abortion funding. 

Obama also focused on fixing the economy, repairing a battered world image and cleaning up government.

Yet domestic and international challenges continue to pile up, and it’s doubtful that life will be dramatically different for much of the ailing country anytime soon.

The biggest agenda items — stabilizing the economy and ending the Iraq war — are complex tasks with results not expected this week, let alone this month. Obama’s move to reverse Bush’s policy on the treatment of detainees and interrogation techniques still leaves unanswered or unresolved questions, including how he will close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for suspected terrorists.

In other cases, Obama set out new policy, only to signal it could be applied selectively.

Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/first100days/20
09/01/24/obama-sticks-script-week-presidency/

Time Runs Out on Trashing Bush: Now? Reality

January 19, 2009

To trash Bush was to belong. There was little upside in supporting Bush, even if you had supported his agenda.

So now, time runs out.  And time is also ticking on the Obama “honeymoon.”

There is a lot to deal with: the economy, environment and the world.  Now starts the hard part: getting the job done….

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By Debra J. Saunders
Jewish World Review

From the day President Bush took office, the long knives were out for him — in ways they will not (and should not) be out for President-elect Barack Obama. The chattering class saw Dubya as a walking style crime in a cowboy suit. They hit Bush for everything — for the way he mangled syntax, for the books he read and because he worked out too much.
Note that now that the buff Obama is taking office, stories gushing about Obama’s daily workouts flood the channels. Oh, yes, and the same people who belittled Bush for sending troops to war even though he only served in the National Guard somehow do not seem to notice Obama’s utter lack of military experience.

goodbye-mr-bush
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To trash Bush was to belong. There was little upside in supporting Bush, even if you had supported his agenda.
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Most of the Democratic candidates for president in 2004 and 2008 voted for the Patriot Act — and then campaigned ….

Read the rest:
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0
109/saunders011909.php3

Related:
In China, Bush remains a popular president
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 Bash Bush; But China Will Miss Him
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Editorials worldwide pillory Bush one final time

Editorials worldwide pillory Bush one final time

January 19, 2009

Can anyone be as bad as Bush?  As good as Obama?  All the criticism and all the praise make me seek the middle: nothing is this evil or this holy…..

We seem to be in a stampede to condemn and a stampede to extoll all at the same time….

Related:
Time Runs Out on Trashing Bush: Now? Reality

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BERLIN (Reuters) – Editorial writers around the world have been taking their final printed whacks at George W. Bush, accusing the president of tarnishing America’s standing with what many saw as arrogant and incompetent leadership.

Some newspaper editorials, for all their criticism, suggested historians might just be kinder later on than those now writing first drafts of history. A success often cited by those seeking a silver lining was the United States’ freedom from further homeland attacks following Sept.11.

Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, will be sworn in as the 44th U.S. president Tuesday.

A protester walks over a portrait of U.S. President George W. ... 
A protester walks over a portrait of U.S. President George W. Bush during a demonstration in Mumbai January 16, 2009 to protest against Israeli military strikes in Gaza.(Arko Datta/Reuters)

“A weak leader, Bush was just overwhelmed in the job,” said Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung under a headline: “The Failure.” “He confused stubbornness with principles. America has become intolerant and it will take a long time to repair that damage.”

Editorials hit out at Bush for two unfinished wars, for plunging the economy into recession, turning a budget surplus into a pile of debt, for his environment policies and tarnishing America’s reputation with the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Bush was given credit in some editorials for defending the United States against terror attacks after September 11, 2001.

Israel was most complimentary, of his intentions if not necessarily of his achievements.

“Of all the U.S. presidents over the past 60 years, it is hard to think of a better friend to Israel than George W. Bush,” the Jerusalem Post daily wrote during Bush’s final visit.

Last week columnist Caroline Glick wrote Bush “recognizes Israel and the U.S. share the same enemies and they seek to destroy us because we represent the same thing: freedom. But Bush never learned how to translate personal views into policy.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/2009011
9/pl_nm/us_bush_world_editorials

Related:
In China, Bush remains a popular president
.
 Bash Bush; But China Will Miss Him

Obama Chooses Unusual Ambassador, Advosor: McCain

January 19, 2009

Not long after Senator John McCain returned last month from an official trip to Iraq and Pakistan, he received a phone call from President-elect Barack Obama.

As contenders for the presidency, the two had hammered each other for much of 2008 over their conflicting approaches to foreign policy, especially in Iraq. (He’d lose a war! He’d stay a hundred years!) Now, however, Mr. Obama said he wanted Mr. McCain’s advice, people in each camp briefed on the conversation said. What did he see on the trip? What did he learn?

By David D. Kirkpatrick
The New York Times

It was just one step in a post-election courtship that historians say has few modern parallels, beginning with a private meeting in Mr. Obama’s transition office in Chicago just two weeks after the vote. On Monday night, Mr. McCain will be the guest of honor at a black-tie dinner celebrating Mr. Obama’s inauguration.

Over the last three months, Mr. Obama has quietly consulted Mr. McCain about many of the new administration’s potential nominees to top national security jobs and about other issues — in one case relaying back a contender’s answers to questions Mr. McCain had suggested.

Mr. McCain, meanwhile, has told colleagues “that many of these appointments he would have made himself,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and a close McCain friend.

Fred I. Greenstein, emeritus professor of politics at Princeton, said: “I don’t think there is a precedent for this. Sometimes there is bad blood, sometimes there is so-so blood, but rarely is there good blood.”

It is “trademark Obama,” Professor Greenstein said, noting that Mr. Obama’s impulse to win over even ideological opposites appeared to date at least to his friendships with conservatives on The Harvard Law Review when he was president.

For Mr. Obama, cooperation with his defeated opponent could also provide a useful ally in the Senate, where Mr. McCain has parlayed his national popularity and go-his-own-way reputation into a role as a pivotal dealmaker over the last eight years. But on the subject of Iraq, in particular, their collaboration could also raise questions among Mr. Obama’s liberal supporters, many of whom demonized Mr. McCain as a dangerous warmonger because of his staunch opposition to a pullout.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/19/us/po
litics/19mccain.html?_r=2&ref=politics

Lessons for Obama … From George W. Bush (And Bob Woodward)

January 15, 2009

There’s actually a lot that President-elect Barack Obama can learn from the troubled presidency of George W. Bush. Over the past eight years, I have interviewed President Bush for nearly 11 hours, spent hundreds of hours with his administration’s key players and reviewed thousands of pages of documents and notes. That produced four books, totaling 1,727 pages, that amount to a very long case study in presidential decision-making, and there are plenty of morals to the story. Presidents live in the unfinished business of their predecessors, and Bush casts a giant shadow on the Obama presidency: two incomplete wars and a monumental financial and economic crisis. Here are 10 lessons that Obama and his team should take away from the Bush experience.

By Bob Woodward
The Washington Post

1. Presidents set the tone. Don’t be passive or tolerate virulent divisions.

In the fall of 2002, Bush personally witnessed a startling face-off between National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in the White House Situation Room after Rumsfeld had briefed the National Security Council on the Iraq war plan. Rice wanted to hold onto a copy of the Pentagon briefing slides, code-named Polo Step. “You won’t be needing that,” Rumsfeld said, reaching across the table and snatching the Top Secret packet away from Rice — in front of the president. “I’ll let you two work it out,” Bush said, then turned and walked out. Rice had to send an aide to the Pentagon to get a bootlegged copy from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/c
ontent/article/2009/01/14/AR200901140
2791.html?hpid=topnews

Russia: President By “Remote Control”?

December 30, 2008

When President Barack Obama meets Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, will Mr. Medvedev have the power to negotiate and speak for Russia?  Or is Medvedev a figure head; a creation of Vladimir Putin?  Who rules Russia and when signals come from the Kremlin who are they coming from and can one trust their instincts?  This is now a growing dilemma for Russia; and for Barack Obama and the United States….

Related from CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/12/30/r
ussia.presidential.term.extension/index.html

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This year is ending as another watershed for Russia, on a par with 1990 or 1998.

2008 started with great expectations for the country’s future as the Kremlin engineered a seamless political transition from Vladimir Putin to Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev was elected to implement Putin’s Plan — a strategy of rapid economic modernization through 2020 that would wean the country from its dependence on oil and other commodities and make innovation the driving force of the economy. Russia needed only 20 years of peaceful, undisturbed development to make a breakthrough, Medvedev proclaimed in early 2008.

Vladimir Frolov
The Moscow Times

That prospect faded in August, when Georgia invaded South Ossetia. Medvedev responded with a strong show of force and moved to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, a move denounced by all major powers.

Putin Medvedev
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Above: Vladimir Putin speaks with his presidential successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in parliament May 8, 2008. Medvedev has proposed a longer term for Russia’s president and it is no secret that Putin wants to come back as President of Russia.  Photo: Sergei Chirikov AFP/Getty Images

Related:
Russia, Obama and the Strategic Chess Tournament

Suddenly, Moscow was facing global isolation and pressure. By October, Russia discovered the truth in the old saying that if anything can go wrong, it will. The price of oil fell from a high of $147 a barrel in July to less than $40 a barrel in December, sending the country’s trade balance and the budget into deficits, the ruble into devaluation and the economy into recession.

Medvedev’s presidency is changing from the management of a modernization policy to the management of an economic collapse. The financial crisis is also testing the viability of the Putin-Medvedev “tandemocracy,” as painful, unpopular decisions need to be made to save the country. The two centers of power promised a gradual evolution of Russia’s political system toward more pluralism and public accountability.

The crisis is now changing the dynamics and the direction of this process, as Medvedev’s own center of power has been too slow in developing while Putin, exercising ultimate authority, is wary of taking full responsibility for crisis management.

It is now an open secret that Putin has been running the government by “remote control” through his two ambitious first deputies — Igor Shuvalov and Igor Sechin. Both wield enormous power and ultimate responsibility for managing the crisis.

Putin’s White House is now the political center of gravity, while the Kremlin is gradually turning into a backwater. Nobody there seems to be in the crisis mode, with the exception of Arkady Dvorkovich, economic adviser to Medvedev. When someone as astute as Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin first deputy chief of staff, starts holding policy meetings on U.S. President-elect Barack Obama as a political phenomenon, instead of focusing on the country’s crisis, this is a glaring sign of trouble.

Vladimir Frolov is president of LEFF Group, a government relations and PR company.
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/1
016/42/373438.htm

Bush Lost All Public Trust and Presidency In 2005 During Katrina Aftermath

December 30, 2008

Hurricane Katrina not only pulverized the Gulf Coast in 2005, it knocked the bully pulpit out from under President George W. Bush, according to two former advisers who spoke candidly about the political impact of the government’s poor handling of the natural disaster.

“Katrina to me was the tipping point,” said Matthew Dowd, Bush’s pollster and chief strategist for the 2004 presidential campaign. “The president broke his bond with the public. Once that bond was broken, he no longer had the capacity to talk to the American public. State of the Union addresses? It didn’t matter. Legislative initiatives? It didn’t matter. P.R.? It didn’t matter. Travel? It didn’t matter.”

Dan Bartlett, former White House communications director and later counselor to the president, said: “Politically, it was the final nail in the coffin.”

Their comments are a part of an oral history of the Bush White House that Vanity Fair magazine compiled for its February issue, which hits newsstands in New York and Los Angeles on Wednesday, and nationally on Jan. 6. Vanity Fair published comments by current and former government officials, foreign ministers, campaign strategists and numerous others on topics that included Iraq, the anthrax attacks, the economy and immigration.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081230/ap_
on_go_pr_wh/bush_advisers_speak_out

Bush Terribly Unpopular Now, But History May Still “Vindicate” Him

December 23, 2008

The argument for his eventual vindication is stronger than many might expect.

On foreign policy, Bush emphasizes that he pursued a “freedom agenda” and spread freedom to Iraq. While the Iraqi future is far from clear, it is possible that the country becomes a democracy and a reliable ally of the U.S. If that transformation is completed, then it could well be viewed as a turning point in the war on terror.

On the home front, to virtually everyone’s surprise, we’ve avoided a terrorist attack since Sept. 11.

Hard to Argue

So it is hard to argue that Bush’s policies were a failure. The unpopular war may have trashed his party, but it didn’t have the same effect on the country.

Turning to the economy, the pro-Bush argument becomes more of a stretch. First, his accomplishments were few. He passed a relatively small tax cut and was unable to hold the line on government spending.

By Kevin Hassett
Bloomberg

Read the rest:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pi
d=washingtonstory&sid=acJBjLS7oKAc