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May 29th, 2010 10:42 am
Obama Looks Inward

Former Bush advisor Peter Wehner pens one of the more helpful analyses of the Obama White House today for Politics Daily:

We can hope that Obama, an intelligent man, learns from the errors of his ways. But the great danger in all of this is that in the face of his troubles Obama and his aides become increasingly defensive, display a greater sense of entitlement and even a touch of paranoia. When arrogant men lose control of events it can easily lead to feelings of isolation, to striking out at critics, to bullying opponents, and to straying across lines that should not be crossed.

And so the president needs to surround himself with people who can tamp down on the uglier impulses within his administration, who are willing to tell Obama that the lore created by him, Axelrod, Plouffe, and Gibbs during the campaign has given way to reality, that cockiness is not the same as wisdom, and that spin is no substitute for substantive achievements. And Obama needs someone who has standing in his life to tell him that the presidency is a revered institution that should not be treated as if it were a ward in Chicago.

The last line is the most telling because it goes to the nub of the problem facing every president: you go with what you know.  For top level politics, that means once you assume high office the learning is over; all you have time for is applying your principles and experiences to the situation of the moment.  For Obama, that means two things: rallying the troops for an us-vs.-them campaign, and treating every political decision as though being president is the same as being the mayor of Chicago – which is to say, a distributor of political patronage.

The criminal silliness of the Sestak Scandal can only be understood in the context of brash, Illinois-style horse trading.  That it happened isn’t much of a surprise.  That it happened without much subtlety and discretion is – to me – much more troubling.  Like Obama’s naïve approach to America’s enemies and his self-indulgent speeches, this is yet another example of his immaturity.

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