When I saw this in my Twitter feed my first thought was that Charlie had written on one of those satirical pieces in The Onion that strikes extremely close to home.
*New Video* Obama: I’m still trying to get the hang of this debating thing washingtonexaminer.com/article/2511011
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) October 17, 2012
But no: Obama really did say he’s still trying to get the hang of this debating thing.
I’m still trying to figure out how to get the hang of this thing… debating. But we’re working on it we’ll keep on improving as time goes on, I’ve got one left.
It’s as though he never has had to stand and defend his positions and his record before. It’s almost as though he’s never been called on his failures before. One might think that no one whom he surrounds himself with has ever dared suggest forcefully, to his face, that something he suggested is a terrible idea or has failed miserably.
Honestly, I believe all of those things are true. Or, at least, he’s forced to defend his position to a combative interlocutor so rarely, and he’s so incapable of handling criticism, that his glass jaw just shatters. He needs to be the smartest guy in the room. He needs his opponents to be absurd sitting ducks. His number on tactic in handling opponents is the straw man, followed by the reductio ad absurdum: he caricatures his opponents and their positions, then takes this caricatured position to a ridiculous conclusion, and argues against that.
The problem arises when he’s faced with an actual person who points out that the caricature isn’t true, let alone the absurd reductio. So then he’s forced to learn how to actually defend his position and put forth a vision of the future. Tough to do in a few weeks after a lifetime of learning the other way. Which brings us back to the video:
“But,” Obama offers, seeming to suggest there’s hope for his future, “we’re working on it we’ll keep on improving as time goes on, I’ve got one left.”
All of a sudden his debate performances are a microcosm of his governance. He was initially shocked and annoyed that anyone would oppose him (“I won” compares to his aloof, annoyed performance in the Denver debate); then he relies on women to defend and promote him at key moments (Nancy Pelosi on Obamacare and Candy Crowley on the Benghazi/”act of terror” moment) before both women are forced to take a dive for him (Pelosi lost her majority for ramming Obamacare through by dubious measures, Crowley had to eat crow when she was shown to be wrong in her unprofessional defense of him), and eventually he’s reduced to basically admitting he’s failed but he’s really working on getting better so just give him another shot.
Um, no thanks. The presidency is no place to learn on the job. We cannot survive someone who cannot ably defend his own positions in a debate with a fellow American exercising “flexibility” with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
We cannot afford someone who said “under my plan energy rates will necessarily skyrocket,” and anyone who wants to build a coal plant can, but it’ll bankrupt them (a rare campaign promise he’s *kept*); who gives hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to green energy companies so risky they could not get private capital, and then they go belly up almost on cue to prove the private investors right; and who stifles domestic drilling on federal lands even while he’s bleating about energy independence and as energy prices rise.
That sort of leadership is no good leadership at all. We’ve seen that his picking winners and losers in industry has meant picking losers. And “leading from behind” only gets our diplomats killed.