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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obama still lacks accomplishment, but he's no longer untested; or, Why Beldar doesn't care anymore about Obama's college or law school transcripts

Ace has been musing in print on whether to continue his self-described "Release the Transcripts campaign" (regarding Obama's college and law school courses and grades). He hasn't asked me, but if he did I'd recommend that Ace invest his considerable talent on other topics.


During 2007-2008, I wrote many, many posts about Obama's objective lack of qualifications for the presidency.

Some of the topics were of pretty limited significance in the big picture. I thought, for example, and I still think that Obama and his supporters have systematically exaggerated the significance of his part-time teaching of con-law seminars at Chicago Law School. But that really went to his character more than to his objective qualifications, and it was at best a very small window through which to observe and draw inferences.

By contrast, some of the topics I blogged about were quite significant. I was (and remain) incredibly frustrated that no one anywhere, in the mainstream media or even in the blogosphere, was taking anything remotely resembling a close look at Obama's legislative accomplishments as a U.S. Senator. Other than running in and winning a presidential election, his (very short, very distracted) tenure in the Senate seemed to me to be by far the strongest and most significant item on a very short list of lifetime accomplishments. So it also seemed to me that everyone ought to be interested in the extent to which he either had, or had not, actually crafted any bills that he'd then been able get passed into law by his fellow legislators.

The Obama campaign claimed undue credit for symbolic accomplishments on which Obama deserved no substantive credit. Asked for examples of his legislative prowess, the campaign pointed to a nuclear non-proliferation bill Obama "co-sponsored." Well, what actually had happened was that Dick Lugar and his staff wrote the legislation (it was a follow-up to a related bill that Lugar and Dick Nunn had co-written years earlier), but then when it was ready for passage, Lugar invited rookie Obama to sign onto as a co-sponsor as a welcoming gesture (back when the GOP controlled the Senate). Obama's total contribution to the process was to tag along with Lugar on a flight to Central Asia as part of a fact-finding inspection of former Soviet republics, and then to nod "yes" when asked if he'd like to be a co-sponsor. Similarly, Tom Coburn had let Obama co-sponsor a bill Coburn and his staff had written providing for government budget information to be made available online — same deal, just letting Obama share completely undeserved credit, just as a senatorial courtesy. Both Lugar's bill and Coburn's bill were going to be passed by voice vote without dissent or objection, so by adding Obama as a formal co-sponsor they could say it was "bi-partisan" while also giving the rookie something to put in his newsletters back to Illinois.

Being asked by senior GOP senators to be the token rookie Democrat senator on non-controversial legislation is hardly enough to make Obama into a modern-day Daniel Webster, I suggested. The world yawned.

I wrote a series of posts about the thinness of Obama's own legislative efforts — which boiled down to a Belgian Congo foreign aid bill and a bill banning the export of elemental mercury, both (again) passed without opposition or objection on a voice vote in both chambers of Congress — and I thought they were good posts. But they fell into the aether like the proverbial trees falling in an un-peopled forest.

Americans were just not interested in whether Obama had demonstrated an ability to actually get complicated and controversial legislation written and passed. No one seemed to think that might be pertinent to Obama's ability to — oh, I dunno, but say, just hypothetically — craft and pass any kind of workable health care reform?

McCain, of course, had actually gotten legislation passed — some of which bears his name, and one piece of which, in particular, I very much wish he hadn't gotten passed. But for whatever bizarre reason, McCain never focused his campaign's fire on the huge disparity in his performance and Barack Obama's on the only job credential they both had in common. And the voters became enraptured with Obama the Omnipotent Fantasy Hero, and they voted for him in November 2008. And they have been realizing in growing numbers ever since that the guy they elected ain't no Fantasy Hero, and that his only potencies are in the areas of (1) spending money we don't have and (2) federalizing/regulating/taxing the holy hell out of not just health-care but anything that moves and can be federalized, regulated, or taxed.


In 2007-2008, the whole point of examining Obama's performance as a U.S. Senator, however, was to test whether it demonstrated his preparedness to become president. My overall point back then was that based on his actual track record, in comparison with any president going back at least to Andrew Johnson, Obama was objectively unprepared for the job.  And because he was unprepared for the job, I further argued, we could reasonably infer that he would most probably botch it.

Fast forward to November 2012. By then, we certainly will no longer be relying on inferences from Obama's performance as a U.S. Senator in 2004-2008 to predict how he might perform as POTUS in 2013-2017. By then we'll have almost four years of his daily performance (or non-) as POTUS to consider when we're making our predictions about how he'd be likely to do in the next four. And by November 2012, no undecided voter is going to be much interested in drawing inferences about Obama's likely performance as POTUS in 2013-2017 based on Obama's college or law school transcripts. It's not that the old evidence will become irrelevant, it's just that it's going to be massively outweighed by the much more obvious (indeed, inescapable) and much more current evidence of Obama's massive incompetence combined with fiscal and regulatory recklessness as POTUS.

He's no longer wholly untested. He's now been thoroughly tested — and on the same job for which he's seeking a four-year extension.

But the world can see that he's botched it already. We don't have to guess whether he'd botch it further in the next four years, no more than we had to guess about Jimmy Carter. 

It's Obama's performance as POTUS that counts now, Ace. That's what's important and — mirabile dictu! — by a fortunate coincidence, that's also the source of our most persuasive set of arguments anyway. So let's not get distracted from that subject by chasing down rabbit trails that have already proved (in 2008) to go nowhere, because if the 2012 election is a referendum on how well Obama has done his job as POTUS, any GOP candidate will beat him like a drum.

Posted by Beldar at 08:09 PM in 2008 Election, 2012 Election, McCain, Obama, Politics (2011) | Permalink


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(1) Robin made the following comment | Apr 27, 2011 9:09:12 PM | Permalink

good post. I'm glad you linked it. I am reminded of Rush's true but ill-received comment about Jim McNab and the NFL being desirous of a black quarterback. It was the same in the American people, hoping to conquer racism charges once and for all, were desirous of a black president, and were willing to overlook everything, imagining that the media was doing their job. I don't think the people have even realized how they were played by the media. These things being qustioned now is good for the public to realize the media let them down. Even reading your post just now - those were things I had heard/read a hint of, and I read a lot during that time, but don't think I saw the particulars - but even if I did know, you were playing to the choir. The advantage Trump has is that he has the media's attention - I don't think the media is going to keep giving him the opportunity to keep hitting Obama. And yes, he should hit the transcripts, and how did he get into Harvard if he got bad grades... and who paid for it? I think a lot of Obama's past needs to be questioned more deeply. The more that questions about why Obama got a pass comes out the more people will recognize him for a fraud - this is a much different situation than Carter being a feckless president.

(2) Jeff made the following comment | Apr 28, 2011 3:49:51 AM | Permalink

Politics is a game of inches ... put alittle tarnish on Obama's genius label and you take away a small percentage of voters on the fence ... its low hanging fruit and having Trump do the work costs the GOP nothing ...
Its great that you want to run against Obamas record but will the MSM print it ?

(3) Friend #1 made the following comment | Apr 28, 2011 8:37:31 AM | Permalink

"It's not that the old evidence will become irrelevant, ..."

In other words, this Republican-boosting blog with its Republican-boosting agenda, has left open the door just a crack for his party's lunatic-fringe conspiracy theorists. Very sad that a smart
fellow like Beldar is forced to pander to (or at least keep the door open for) nutty right-wingers, simply because they comprise a major voting block within the Republican Party.

FYI, Beldar: Health care reform is *already working*. Be very careful of your criticism on that issue. It might leave you little wiggle room when it comes time to lovingly embrace Mitt Romney as your GOP presidential candidate.

(4) Whitehall made the following comment | Apr 28, 2011 10:58:06 AM | Permalink

Have to disagree with the honorable Mr. Beldar.

A decision based on just his preformance as president is still likely to be swayed by excuses for events outside his control. Now add poor performance as a legislator and as a student, and you've built the case that he is generally incompetent in several situations. That makes his performance as president part of a trend caused not by external forces but by his own weakness.

One DUI can be a special case that could happen to just about anyone. Three DUIs and you're a hard case drinker. Three strikes and you're out.

(5) Machiavelli made the following comment | Apr 28, 2011 11:16:43 AM | Permalink

It's clear Obama wasn't properly vetted as a candidate, and I believe the obvious decrepency between the leader we were promised and the leader we got is what's fueling these efforts.

(6) Beldar made the following comment | Apr 28, 2011 3:45:27 PM | Permalink

Friend #1, you keep projecting things onto me that I haven't actually said, or fantasizing about my embrace of positions that I haven't embraced. Here I write a post about how I think it's Obama's current job (non-)performance that is at issue, and you insist that I'm "leaving the door open" for "lunatic-fringe conspiracy theorists." That's silly, and its silliness is also obvious to other readers, who therefore misunderestimate you and call you a troll. (I know you're not that because I've read and heard you make substantive arguments, and make them well, on many other occasions.)

"On-topic" for this post would include a discussion about how well Obama performed as a craftsman and shepherd of legislation during Obamacare. I would argue that he was as remote and disengaged and malleable during that process as he was throughout his short, undistinguished career as as U.S. Senator — that it, he left everything hard and important to the real lawmakers in his Party, made insincere noises about wanting GOP cooperation, and then showed up to grab a spotlight when it came time for him to vote on (or as POTUS, to sign off on) the resulting product. But you want instead to use this post to talk about ... Romney?

Well, Obamacare is already indeed starting to make big waves, but I'm unaware of any evidence whatsoever that it's actually "working" unless by that term you mean something very nasty and expensive. Most of Obama's core promises about it — "If you like the healthcare plan you currently have, you can keep it" — are already thoroughly exposed as cruel jokes.

And you must think me craven and stupid if you think I'm going to embrace Obamacare if Romney wins the GOP nomination. I don't pick my positions based on who else endorses them, and Gov. Romney made clear even back in the 2007 and early 2008 campaigning that he didn't think the individual mandate contained in the Massachusetts plan (much of which was crafted by the majority Democrat state legislature) could or should be expanded to a national program. As you, and he, and most of my readers already understand, and as many more citizens are now coming to understand as we watch the legal challenges to Obamacare proceed, there are fundamental differences in the scope of regulatory power available to the federal and state governments.

I'm against government intrusion whether it's proposed by Democrats or inexcusably misguided Republicans, and I believe that the solution to the explosion in healthcare costs (including Medicare and Medicaid costs) is competition — something that the existing healthcare system, founded on government tax deductability of employer-provided plans and other factors that insulate both patient and doctors from cost information and cost-effectiveness consideration, is skewed to prevent. More statist attempts to directly regulate and control the system can only make things worse by reinforcing the current system's already in-built insulation that makes it uncompetitive.

Even for seniors, the issue has to shift from "What's the government going to give me?" to "What spending makes sense, and for what particular medical care, within my actual means?" One's "actual means" may include risk-rating and -pooling mechanisms like insurance, or they may include contributions for insurance made by an employer, or they may include something from the government — but it emphatically must not include a blank-check pre-signed by the government! It's the blank checks that are responsible both for $10 aspirins and $40k hip replacements on patients who won't be able to actually make use of them.

It's the blank checks that encourage focus on expensive critical care instead of vastly more economical preventive care. Blank checks lead to economically irrational behavior. Health care must be rationed since we don't have unlimited means to spend on healthcare, so the question is who should do the rationing — individuals planning their own lives (and companies competing aggressively with one another for their business in a genuine market with free-flowing information), or government bureaucrats who "know better"?

All grown-ups (including some Democrats) understand this, but one party nevertheless insists on pretending that government can give everyone everything for nothing forever if we'll only tax the "evil rich" — and that is the lie that underpins the modern Democratic Party. "Obama's gonna pay my mortgage!"

I really encourage your comments, but I wish you'd comment about what I actually write, rather than raising different topics, imagining my views on them, and then arguing with those imagined views.

Do you think Obama's transcripts, for example, are more or less relevant now than they would have been in 2008? I would have predicted that you'd agree with me on that, actually. Is that wrong?

(7) Friend #1 made the following comment | Apr 28, 2011 4:25:30 PM | Permalink

"Gov. Romney made clear even back in the 2007 and early 2008 campaigning that he didn't think the individual mandate contained in the Massachusetts plan (much of which was crafted by the majority Democrat state legislature) could or should be expanded to a national program."

Obviously, Governor Romney was overwhelmed by those nasty tax-and-spend Massachusetts Democrats and had no choice but to sign the mandated health care bill into law and then pose for the cameras and then take credit for it.

But we shouldn't judge Mitt Romney by his track history, right? I mean, it's not important that he passed sweeping, mandated health care, supported gay rights or was even pro-choice before he converted to right-wing extremism. As long as he's not Barack Obama, we'll forgive him of his many sins.

Beldar, you will support any GOP candidate for prez. It doesn't matter who it is or what he stands for. I think the world of you, my friend, but you and I know that's the unvarnished truth.

(8) Beldar made the following comment | Apr 28, 2011 4:33:19 PM | Permalink

It's certainly true that I'm deeply committed to working toward Obama's defeat in 2012. It's certainly true that I expect to support whoever wins the GOP nomination to run against Obama. But if you think I'm indifferent as to who's selected, or to his or her qualifications, you're badly wrong and you haven't been paying attention to what I've said or written here since 2003.

And you're still ignoring my questions to you about what I'm actually writing in this post.

(9) stan made the following comment | Apr 29, 2011 7:57:24 AM | Permalink

Whatever voters care about. If some who voted for him in 08 would abandon him if they learn the truth about his grades , we should get the truth out about his grades. If some who voted for him would be appalled in they finally learn the truth about Ayers and Dohrn, get them the truth about Ayers and Dohrn.

People should be able to make decisions based on his performance. But I wouldn't advise arguing with voters about why the vote as they do.

(10) Neo made the following comment | Apr 29, 2011 4:02:01 PM | Permalink

I did take a look at what legislation Obama tried to advance while a US Senator. Amazingly, not one piece of legislation that had Obama as "chief sponsor" ever was signed by a President. The closest was the "Global Poverty Act" (which was Copenhagen minus Climate Change) which only needed a final Senate floor vote to go to the President, but it went stillborn after Obama secured the Democratic nomination.

(11) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Apr 30, 2011 12:14:09 AM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: What you say is true about The One, but it misses the point. Getting the transcripts out is going to give the citizenry another club to beat the scoundrels who run the press. Who can doubt that if any GOP candidate had tried to sit on his transcripts, thousands of journalists, all clutching their copies of ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN to their Rolodexes, would have gotten it out, ethics and confidentiality rules be damned.

It's the press that's the problem here. You can't have forgotten CBS's shameless attempt to frame Geo. W. using the forged Texas Air National Guard memos. To this day, Dan Rather howls that he wasn't a liar, and is pressing forward with his investigation, an investigation that promises all the success of OJ Simpson's to find the killers of his wife...This is the press that supposedly is "investigating." It's influence has greatly declined, but not enough. The liberal bigots who run the press seem content with either a) being turned into government lapdogs via bailouts or b) having say another decade's worth of influence before the deluge. These are the swine who need a vigorous bashing, every day. It isn't true that all journalists are liars---but that's the way to bet. You'll have to apologize to far fewer people than you'd expect.

The One's transcripts would tie into something that's still relevant. As you've noted, his legislative achievements were minimal. But the Legislature is also a great place to acquire expertise. The One's laziness is legion, as his absence from committee meetings during his Senate years. I'd like to see his transcripts for that reason. They would help to make the case that The One is the ultimate "affirmative action baby," a phrase that must make Stephen Carter twitch a bit more every day.

As for Friend #1, I must take your word that she's a delightful companion in person. I don't much care for folks who make attacks under pseudonyms, though given her name and her beliefs, it's small wonder that she usually hides it. The constant heaving of red herrings, the mock sorrow that this blog is a GOP platform (as though any blogger must conform to F#1's liberal standards or be a charlatan) and now the insistence that Obamacare is and will continue to work is the sum of her superior wisdumb. Such quackeries are worth plenty of snickers at first, but get tiresome through predictability. Obamacare working? Please. The One has hired Don Berwick to run this shapeless blob that threatens to devour most of us, carefully using a recess appointment good to the end of this year to get him in. I can find no evidence that The One even sent Berwick's nomination to the Senate last year. But the most damning bit of evidence is Berwick's greed and profiteering making sure he will never have to face Obamacare's idiocies. The blob won't get him or his wife. He's all right. The quuintessence of liberalism. Dragging down 2.3 million bucks in 2008 from a non-profit and antoher 1.2 million in 2006-07? Boy, public service pays and how! Such is the mastermind who is going to make it work. Such are the suckers who believe it will work.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(12) David made the following comment | Apr 30, 2011 2:42:50 PM | Permalink

"fiscal and regulatory recklessness as POTUS"

Good, but needs a letter change to

"fiscal and regulatory fecklessness as POTUS"

(13) DRJ made the following comment | May 1, 2011 3:08:53 PM | Permalink

Even after 2 years in office, President Obama still sells himself primarily as the smartest politician in the nation, and at times he even claims to be smarter than his most accomplished advisers. Unfortunately, most young people, liberals and media types accept this as the undeniable truth.

Thus, IMO anything that pokes holes in Obama's ability to portray himself as smart will contribute to his defeat in 2012. I strongly suspect his college transcripts would help burst that bubble.

(14) Friend #1 made the following comment | May 2, 2011 12:02:42 AM | Permalink


(15) Stewart G made the following comment | May 2, 2011 12:21:36 AM | Permalink

"Obama still lacks accomplishment."

I believe this statement is only rivaled in history by a headline which read:

"Dewey Defeats Truman"

(16) Milhouse made the following comment | May 3, 2011 11:13:05 AM | Permalink

What accomplishment? How are we better off with bin Laden dead than we were before, when he was merely neutralised? He had ceased to be a factor years ago, thanks to Bush's policies. And of course, had Obama been president and not authorised extreme interrogation methods, we would never have known about this courier in the first place.

(17) BT made the following comment | May 4, 2011 9:15:50 AM | Permalink

1) The press will do everything in its power do help get Obama re elected, remember he is their guy and some of the various themes that will be played out are already taking shape such as "no president has ever faced such tough times," "if you don't vote for Obama in 2012 and you are white you are a racist," and now Obama will be portrayed as a take charge, fire eating, warrior who brought down Osama single handedly. Just watch.

2) If the economy heals in any way Obama and his buddies in the press will sing his praises to the roof tops and he will get credit rightly or wrongly.

3) I wouldn't be so sure about the R's having a slam dunk. If they run a stiff like Romney or some other candidate with a so-so track record, the R's will be eaten alive. Remember running for office is what BO does best and unless we have someone who can match his fire power it will be a very tough fight even under the best circumstances.

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