Obama's Just Not Very Good at Being President
Friday night I was on Anderson Cooper's CNN program, AC360 with one of my favorite debate partners, Paul Begala.
As neither Paul nor I am a foreign policy expert we talked about the domestic political aspects of the riots - and killings - in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Cooper quoted from Friday morning's Mullings (I don't have the transcript but this is close):
Cooper: Rich, you wrote in your column this morning that President Obama's foreign policy is: Blame George W.
Galen: What I wrote, in its entirety was: Barack Obama's foreign policy is the same as his domestic policy: It's all George W's fault. And I stand by that.
Begala wanted to get to a Ryan comment, so he let that pass. We didn't see each other after the program so I couldn't ask him if he went to his Ryan riff because he agreed with me, or because he was afraid we would run out of time in the segment.
The reason I bring all that up is because by Friday night there was a growing buzz among the geniuses in Washington that no matter how awful events in overseas were, the Romney campaign had to keep pounding on the economy.
The economy with all its constituent parts: Jobs, housing, gasoline prices, economic growth, etc - will be at the top of the list in every poll of voters' concerns.
But, I think there is a case to be made that President Obama's handling of foreign policy is no less incompetent than his handling of the domestic economy.
The broader narrative that the campaign of Mitt Romney should be pushing is this: Barack Obama is a good man. He is trying hard. He's just not very good at this job.
If that becomes the message then no matter what goes wrong, complaining about it should end with: Obama's good but inept.
They can paint that in prettier linguistic colors, but that's what voters should be thinking about for the next month-and-a-half.
Buried last week because of the horrors coming out of MENA was a remarkable press conference held by the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke.
Bernanke announced the Fed would be buying about $40 billion - BILLION - worth of (mostly) mortgage-backed securities per month for the foreseeable future to pump even more money into the economy.
Why? Because the economy is in grave danger of sliding back into recession.
Obama is a nice guy, he is just not very good at his job.
As I was watching Bernanke I Tweeted "Aren't mortgage-backed securities what got us into trouble in the first place?" but either everyone else's eyes were glazed over as much as mine, or the question demonstrated my ignorance to the point that no one wanted to deal with me.
Through it all, corporations - people that they are - have been cleaning up their balance sheets by shedding non-performing assets and preferring to pay workers overtime to hiring new once.
That being the case, corporate profits have been going generally up over the past few years.
Not any more.
The DailyBeast.com reported yesterday afternoon that, "A slowing global economy could be contributing to some of the biggest American companies posting their first quarterly earnings decline since 2009."
Businesses have squeezed all the cost savings they can out of their businesses and now they are looking at flat or declining sales.
According to Ethan Harris, the chief US economist for Merrill Lynch: "A lot of the profit gain you had in the last few years was a bounce from the recession and a result of very aggressive cost-cutting."
Obama is doing his best. His best just isn't good enough.
Meanwhile in MENA, according to Canada's GlobalNews.ca:
-- Hundreds of Pakistanis protesting an anti-Islam film broke through a barricade near the U.S. Consulate in the southern city of Karachi, Pakistan.
-- In Lebanon, Hezbollah called for protests against the movie, saying protesters should not only 'express our anger' at U.S. embassies but urged leaders to act.
-- The government of Yemen refused to give the U.S. permission to send more U.S. Marines to protect the U.S embassy.
-- Libya announced it had arrested 50 people in the assassination of the U.S. Ambassador last week - about which I Tweeted "Has a certain 'Round up the usual suspects' scent about it" #Casablanca
And if that weren't enough bad news, BBC reported yesterday afternoon that:
-- "At least eight women died in a NATO air strike in Afghanistan's eastern province of Laghman.
-- "NATO has conceded that between five and eight civilians died as it targeted insurgents, and offered condolences."
Barack Obama is a pleasant enough fellow. But he's just not very good at being President of the United States.
Happy New Year to all my Jewish friends.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Daily Beast, to the Global News, and to the BBC. Also a scary Mullfoto from the New Jersey Turnpike.