Suskind, who exposed the Bush administration delusion with the quote about “making our own reality,” calls Obama (whom he also claims to like and respect) the “amateur President,” and assesses him as having an “incredible intelligence” that “may not be what the country needs.” Intelligence without common sense and an acute awareness of reality is completely useless, except maybe for creative thought exercises.
What goes unstated explicitly when Suskind discusses Obama’s new-found old-style Democrat speaking persona with Stewart is that Obama may well be as clueless as some (including me) have described him. Suskind quotes Obama (I’m paraphrasing) as saying that he has learned what the people want him to be, yet Suskind doesn’t quote him as understanding that he’s now completely hogtied politically with a Republican House. It’s clear to me from hearing Suskind’s comments that Obama still thinks he can convince Republicans to vote as he requests in spite of so much evidence to the contrary, evidence which all but the staunchest Obama defender now admits.
In addition, Suskind relates the inability of Obama to wield the power he should know he has. Suskind tells of Obama’s anger when he discovers that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner disobeyed a directive to formulate a plan to break up Citibank. Instead of immediately demanding Geithner’s resignation, or firing him outright, Obama did nothing. When an executive refuses to act in a manner he’s clearly entitled to do when his orders aren’t followed, he exposes himself to being seen as powerless and weak.
Hey, Barry! The Pentagon can cause a lot more problems than Wall Street can, but that didn’t stop Truman from firing MacArthur!
Suskind unwittingly supports this concept of Obama the executive wimp being unaware of his political distress. Suskind relates an anecdote from an interview he had with an unidentified major Wall Street executive. Suskind asks this exec why, when Obama has done so much for you, do you continue to accuse him of being anti-business? When he opened the Treasury to you and saved you from collapse? The reply was essentially “We love what he’s done for us, but when we accuse him of being anti-business, he does even more for us.”
Such self-delusion and lack of awareness could explain the disdain in Larry Summers’ disparagement of his tenure in the Obama administration as like being in the movie Home Alone with no adult in charge. A capable adult has to be aware of everything that goes on lest something cause trouble, yet Obama races toward trouble every time he surrenders all of his strength before commencing negotiations with the Republicans. Now he thinks he can propose initiatives he should have used to lead off his administration and the people will rally ’round. He still doesn’t get it.
So I have to agree to a large extent with Suskind’s assessment of Obama’s “intellect:” he’s clearly too smart for his own good, and convinces himself with a reality of his own creation, just like his predecessor’s staff did. It would also explain why he was the only one in his administration who actually liked Larry Summers.