Five years ago I wrote an article for Parade magazine entitled "What President Obama Can Teach America's Kids." The piece reminded children that despite having no father present and a rather loopy mom, the president was able to achieve the most powerful position in the world. If young Barack Obama could overcome his somewhat chaotic upbringing through persistence, many American kids in difficult circumstances can do the same.
There is no question that President Obama is an astute and smart man. After graduating from Harvard Law, he worked his way up the political ladder, using Chicago's south side as a launching pad. That's tough turf, so Obama had to combine book smarts with guile.
And so it is simply stunning to see how poorly Obama is faring in the common sense zone as president. One recent example of his failure to anticipate trouble is his nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. Because he had helped cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal get off death row, Adegbile was certain to be controversial. Police organizations protested the nomination, which was defeated in the Senate, despite Harry Reid's rule change that makes it much easier for a nominee to win approval. With so many vulnerable Democrats up for re-election in a few months, President Obama had to know the nomination would ignite a firestorm, and indeed Adegbile went down in flames.
So, common sense would dictate that President Obama learned a valuable lesson from that DOJ fiasco. But common sense is in short supply in the West Wing. The president's nominee for Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy is virulently anti-gun and has exchanged fire with the powerful NRA. That might be excusable if Dr. Murthy were the reincarnation of C. Everett Koop, but he is just 36 years old and has never run a hospital or medical unit. So what is the good doctor's primary qualification? He formed Doctors for America, which lobbied tirelessly for the dubious Affordable Care Act. Once again, the president has unnecessarily put Senate Democrats in a precarious position. They can vote against Murthy and alienate their left-wing base, or vote for him and provide ammunition to right-wingers and the NRA.
At least Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy is a physician and has a few qualifications for the job. Recent nominees for foreign ambassadorships have been downright embarrassing. There is George Tsunis, who seems totally ignorant about Norway, the country in which he will represent the United States. Noah Bryson Mamet and Colleen Bradley Bell are equally befuddled about Argentina and Hungary, where they are tapped to head U.S. embassies. It's as if President Obama nominated a first-year medical student to be surgeon general. However, Tsunis, Mamet, and Bell did bundle huge sums of cash for the Obama campaign, thus "earning" their ambassadorial nominations. Of course, all presidents nominate political cronies, but President Obama has taken it to a new level. According to the Center for Public Integrity, he has named 23 big donors to ambassadorships.
These missteps come on top of the chaos of ObamaCare, which has already given Republicans plenty to work with in November. Earlier this week, in what might be the first drip in a coming deluge, Republican David Jolly won a special election in Florida. His vanquished opponent is Alex Sink and she is not just any Democrat. Sink is highly-regarded, experienced, and she out-spent Jolly by a vast margin. Nevertheless, she lost in a district that had twice voted for President Obama, largely because Jolly kept hammering away on ObamaCare.
Much can happen between now and the midterm elections, but things look bleak for Democrats. And President Obama's blunders are making things worse. All this raises a question: If President Obama is so smart, why does he continue to make so many unforced errors? At this point, I simply do not know the answer.