July 15, 2014
How the mighty have fallen. In a poll last week by Quinnipiac University, a plurality of voters declared President Obama the worst man to hold the highest office in the land since World War II.
That’s a decidedly ignominious distinction considering the failings — real or perceived - of several of the presidents that preceded Obama.
George W. Bush steered the nation into two separate wars, producing nearly 5,300 U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq and costing American taxpayers more than $4 trillion.
Bill Clinton disgraced himself by having an adulterous affair with a White House intern young enough to be his daughter, which contributed to his dishonor of being the second president in U.S. history to be impeached.
Jimmy Carter is remembered for his impotence in securing the release of 52 American diplomats and others held hostage 444 days by Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, and for presiding over the worst economy since the Great Depression.
Richard Nixon was brought down by the Watergate scandal, becoming the only president to resign from office.
Yet none of those former presidents is held in as low esteem as the current occupant of the Oval Office.
Indeed, 53 percent of those surveyed disapprove of Obama’s job performance; 54 percent say his administration is incompetent in running the government, and a 45 percent plurality said the county would be better off if Mitt Romney was in the White House.
So what explains the precipitous decline in the president’s standing? Well, we think it attributable in no small part to Obama’s almost complete lack of statesmanship.
Yes, we understand the president’s frustration that his second-term agenda hasn’t gotten much traction on Capitol Hill, where the House is in the hands of Republicans.
But it’s almost as if Obama expected the House GOP to rubber-stamp his proposals as House Democrats during 2009-10, when they passed the so-called American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with next to no Republican support.
Now Obama finds he needs he needs the support of at least some members of the loyal opposition to get legislation passed - like immigration reform. But the president has not bargained with House Republican leaders.
Instead, he has tried to bend House Republicans to his will by demagoguing those who differ with him on such policies as climate change - as he did during his politicized UC Irvine commencement speech - and by threatening to bypass the duly elected representatives of more than half the electorate by issuing executive orders and directives.
Bush, Cinton, Carter, Nixon and other of Obama’s predecessors may have left some presidential traits to be desired. But, arguably, none were less statesmanlike than the nation’s current chief executive.
— Orange County Register, Santa Ana, Calif.