Peter Suderman at Reason gives a world-class review of The Escape Artists: How Obama’s Team Fumbled the Recovery.
Despite the quasi-provocative title—designed, no doubt to help the book sell—Suderman characterizes the effort (from Noam Scheiber, a writing worker from The New Republic) as a hagiography and an apology for the Administration writ large.
The major players are all professional Democrats and liberals of one stripe or another. Scheiber’s detailed, thoroughly reported account describes their efforts at responding to the faltering economy while pursuing the rest of Obama’s ambitious agenda. In the process, Scheiber takes as a given his protagonists’ centrality to the success or failure of the economy.
It is an assumption that his subjects share. Their endless infighting and many personal differences are what drive the book and furnish its occasional bursts of dramatic urgency. But they are united in a conviction that the system is broken—and that only they know how to fix it.
Of course, they didn’t fix it, based in large part to the oversized and totally unwarranted hubris of the President. Meanwhile, the President continues to blame George W. Bush.
The older I get, the more I see humility as an essential characteristic, something that’s missing from the I, me, my of this Administration.
Read the whole thing. It’s a great review.
I asked someone who has been close to Obama if I could interview him about his experiences. He said, “I’m not going to say anything that might hurt during the campaign.”
That’s immediately followed with this:
At the Capitol, I asked one prominent Democratic legislator what he had learned about Obama as a leader and a person that the general public did not know. He sat for nearly a full minute and then replied, “I would rather not say.”
Fallows later adds an observation I’ve long agreed with:
The sobering realities of the modern White House are: All presidents are unsuited to office, and therefore all presidents fail in certain crucial aspects of the job. All betray their supporters and provoke bitter criticism from their own side at some point in their term. And all are mis-assessed while in office, for reasons that typically depend more on luck and historical accident than on factors within their control. These realities do not excuse Obama’s failings, but they do put his evolution in perspective.
Of course, some presidents (like Obama) are particularly unsuited to office, in this case by temperament, experience, and intellect. The full depths of Obama’s ineptness will likely remain thankfully unknown, unless he should happen to win a second term.