Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Weekly Rant

A new feature... just because...

I’ve reached a conclusion regarding Barack Obama.[1]  He’s a really crappy lawyer.

This is not a conclusion that I reach lightly.  In fact, it’s against my own self-interest, since I attended the same law school and determining that he’s not a good lawyer tends to undercut the six figure investment I made in my education.[2]  But it’s a relatively straightforward conclusion at this point.  Ask yourself this question – would you hire Barack Obama to represent you as a lawyer?[3]  Most of the time, lawyers get hired to be an advocate.[4]

I don’t think I would hire Obama as an advocate.  At least, not if I wanted to win.  My view of a great advocate has always borrowed from the advice I first heard imparted by legendary legal scholar Bum Phillips.  Okay, Phillips was a football coach, but the general philosophy fits when judging the quality of your legal representation.  Phillips repeated a statement that I believe was first used to describe the greatness of Bear Bryant as a football coach:  “He can take his’n and beat your’n.  And he can take your’n and beat his’n.”[5]

Translating that to the law, a truly skilled courtroom advocate is someone who can take a certain set of facts and win the case arguing either side.  Does that description apply to Obama?  Is he someone who can make a convincing argument for both sides of an issue, enough so that he can convince people on the other side of the issue to hear him out and possibly change their minds?

If I’d asked that question in December 2008, the response from the vast majority of the country would have been “Duh.”  Obama had just convinced a majority of Americans to elect him President[6] – something that was seen as particularly amazing by people who were convinced that America was made up tons of people with latent racist feelings.[7]  Based off that performance, perhaps it was okay to believe that we were on the precipice of some grand age, that this would be the moment when “the seas stopped rising and our planet began to heal”, to steal one particularly idiotic bit of overselling from our President, made during the heady days of his 2008 campaign.[8]

Turns out that was the high point of the Obama Experience thus far, and will likely remain so.  The 2008 campaign was essentially a fantastic ad campaign for a product (Barack Obama) that could be morphed into whatever people wanted him to be.[9]  If you were a liberal anti-war zealot, this was the guy who would end the wars and close Gitmo.[10]  If you a moderate sick of the divisions of the Bush years, this was the man who would unite America under a post-partisan banner of a rising sun or whatever the hell that logo was.[11]  If you were a conservative disillusioned by the Bush years… well, he was not a conservative, but he had a first-class temperament and would listen to people on the other side in a way that made them feel like they were being heard.[12]

To be fair, this effectively trapped Obama when he arrived in office as a victim of unrealistic expectations – once he became President, he had to start actually doing stuff, and some of that was bound to take the bloom off his rose.  But since he created those expectations and openly surfed the wave created by them to the Presidency, it’s fair to assign the headache of navigating these problems to him.  Some of us foresaw such an event, but it should have been obvious from the start.

Which brings us to today, and the President’s upcoming 79,124th speech to Congress/press conference/random White House speech/townhall/whatever.[13]  Other than unnecessarily cluttering up my television screen prior to the kickoff of the NFL season,[14] the address is supposed to focus on jobs… and in reality serve as the latest kickoff to Obama’s Presidential re-election campaign.

The real question is whether any of this will convince anyone to vote for him.  It won’t convince me,[15] but I’m not the target audience.[16]

However, while I’ve been concluding that Obama is a really crappy lawyer, liberals have suddenly begun bitching about his leadership style.  The grumbling has been audible since late last year, but it’s now kicked into high gear, although a good chunk of it is people hoping to push the President back to his leftward base to spur them to vote.[17]  But to the extent the bitching is about leadership, allow me to make two points.

First, it’s not really a problem with leadership – it’s a matter of executive competence.  President Obama had no experience coming in at running anything of real importance, save for his own Presidential campaign.[18]  And it shows.  He’s been doing a lot of on-the-job learning, and in what should be most depressing of all to his supporters, he’s not picking up the lessons very fast.[19]

Second, this is a reputation that he’s earned.  As I noted recently, GOP candidates are typically classified as mean or dumb, and the press has started to classify Rick Perry as dumb already, as they once did with W. and Reagan.  Sometimes the rep sticks, even if it’s unfair.  But Obama was hailed as brilliant from day one, and only recently has the press started to come to a conclusion that many on the right reached long ago – the President is out of his depth and not ready for this job.  Again, he’s earned the reputation of being an incompetent leader.[20]  People may or may not trust the press when they allege or intimate that Rick Perry is short on brain cells, but they’re more likely to believe it if they reach that conclusion independently based on seeing him in action.  And they’re doing that with President Obama now.  Way to go, champ.

Let me close with an observation from Instapundit that is dead-on.  He's been running a feature mocking "hope and change" and had this to say...
I can’t find the link now, but somebody was criticizing this feature a while back as “juvenile.” Well, I am quite deliberately rubbing it in, as the ridiculously inflated expectations for Obama are regularly and repeatedly exposed as . . . ridiculously inflated. But what’s really juvenile is expecting that an inexperienced former community organizer could successfully execute the office of President of the United States. And if I’m peeing all over the wave of hope-and-change hype that got him into office despite his obvious unsuitability, it’s to help ensure that nothing this disastrous happens again in my lifetime. I realize that it’s painful for those who fell victim to the mass hysteria to constantly be reminded of their foolishness, but I hope it’ll be the kind of pain that results in learning.
If they're anything like the President they supported in 2008, they'll be slow learners.

[1] Actually, in case you haven’t noticed from my earlier rants, I’ve reached a lot of conclusions about Barack Obama.  I doubt he cares.  And frankly, I’m not sure he should.
[2] To be fair to Obama, not every lawyer who graduates from HLS turns out to be a good lawyer.  Some of my clients might enthusiastically agree with this assessment.  Okay, most of my clients might agree.
[3] Keep in mind, I’m talking about legal representation.  There are definitely jobs where I would hire Barack Obama.  For example, I think he would make a terrific greeter at a casino.  Or a psychologist.  And he'd be a fabulous doctor -- "I want to offer you the red pill.  No, wait, let's give you the blue pill."
[4] There are obviously other jobs lawyers will perform (hey, we’ll do anything if the money’s right!).  For example, many lawyers work as negotiators… and that’s not really a job we’d hire President Obama to perform, either.
[5] The “his’n” and “your’n” refer to Bryant’s football team and an opponent’s team.  At least, I hope they do, because otherwise this quote becomes a Beavis and Butthead joke.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.
[6] Even Bill Clinton never got a majority of votes in either of his elections. 
[7] I was tired of this stupid trope before the election.  About 40% of Americans wouldn’t vote for Obama because they think every Democrat is some form a pink-panty wearing Socialist (it’s not my fault if they perpetuate the idea by electing people like Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker).  No Democrat would have won the votes of these folks (just like no Republican can win the votes of the 40% of Americans who are some form of pink-panty wearing Socialists).  As for everyone else, Obama received the same fair hearing every other candidate did from the populace (along with a spectacularly affectionate caress from his friends in the mainstream media).   Americans were and are more intelligent, open-minded and tolerant than the elite in this country ever acknowledge.
[8] One of the things that always kills me is that the same people who openly mock people of deep religious faith for believing in the text of the Bible willingly swallow crapola like this without blinking.
[9] If they had marketed a Barack Obama action figure, it would have been able to morph into anything.  A bird… a pterodactyl…
[10] Hey, how’d that work out again?
[11] Between that and the Shep Fairley poster of Obama, I have to give them an “A” for use of imagery, as creepily fascist as the whole exercise was.
[12] They meant that he would listen, but they did not say he had an open mind.  Obama’s style of dealing with his opposition’s position is embodied by the line from Sounds of Silence: “People hearing without listening.”  Seriously, go back and watch Paul Ryan address the flaws in Obamacare during the silly health care reform summit.  Obama’s willing to let him say his peace, but he’s not listening to a word of the criticism. 
[13] In honor of the President’s budget numbers, that figure is wildly inflated and completely unsupported by any rational analysis.  Although it's still closer to reality than any budget he's proposed this year.
[14] Has anyone analyzed the impact of a pre-game policy address on the Packers and Saints?  Sadly, Vegas probably has done so.  My guess: if the President’s jobs package proposal is greater than $400 billion, take the Packers and lay the points.
[15] As Glenn Reynolds has said, I’d vote for a syphilitic goat before I vote for Obama.  Actually, I’d vote for Jimmy Carter before Obama, and that says a lot.
[16] I know, under the new civility guidelines, I can’t use “target”, unless I’m the offspring of someone buried in the Meadowlands.
[17] The real terror for the left will be if the dead rise from the grave… and start voting Republican! 
[18] Still one of the dumbest arguments ever made by anyone in Presidential politics was Obama’s claim that his allegedly brilliant Presidential campaign showed that he could manage a large enterprise well – “Look at the great job I’m doing in this job interview!  Just ignore the paper-thin resume!”
[19] And that’s where he’s really devaluing my Harvard degree.  You’re supposed to be smart enough to adapt, Mr. President.
[20] A good analogy can be drawn to how his #2, VP Joe Biden, has earned a reputation for being likely to say something incredibly stupid whenever he opens his mouth.  The media tried for years to show Biden as a serious talking head, capable of deep policy discussions, and yet the public sees him as a goofy guy prone to saying dumb things.

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