Inside the Obama Frat House

Tommy “Dude” Vietor, former National Security Council spokesman, did America a favor when he dismissed a question from Fox News’s Bret Baier about Benghazi with the Lebowskian “Dude, that was like two years ago.”  Such juvenility is pervasive among denizens of Obama’s White House, or, as it may be better described, Obama’s Frat House. And it is hurting America.

There were intimations early in Obama’s Presidency that his leadership team was a boys club. As Carrie Budoff Brown wrote in Politico:

The boys club image took hold during the 2008 presidential campaign and the early years of the administration, when Obama’s inner circle brimmed with fist-bumping young guys, sports-obsessed aides and brash leaders like top economic adviser Lawrence Summers. There were influential women, such as confidante Valerie Jarrett and advisers Alyssa Mastromonaco and Melody Barnes, but none was as visible on TV or the White House Flickr feed as David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs or David Plouffe.

Even the New York Times wondered in 2009 “Does the White House feel like a frat house?” Mark Leibovch wrote:

The president, after all, is an unabashed First Guy’s Guy. Since being elected, he has demonstrated an encyclopedic knowledge of college hoops on ESPN, indulged a craving for weekend golf, expressed a preference for adopting a “big rambunctious dog” over a “girlie dog” and hoisted beer in a peacemaking effort.

He presides over a White House rife with fist-bumping young men who call each other “dude” and testosterone-brimming personalities like Rahm Emanuel, the often-profane chief of staff; Lawrence Summers, the brash economic adviser; and Robert Gibbs, the press secretary, who habitually speaks in sports metaphors.

The image has been reinforced by President Obama’s own behavior over the years.

I have written numerous times about Barack Obama’s lack of a work ethic. Even during his Harvard years, he was known as a slacker who just glided by on the golden path by virtue of...well… being Barack Obama (see The Obamamometer).

The pattern persisted as President. He consistently has skipped daily economic, intelligence and national security meetings; refuses to call cabinet meetings; considers meeting with Republicans -- and most Democrats -- as beneath his dignity (or so it seems); turns in his homework -- (also known as the national budget) consistently late -- another example of his leadership principle in action, leading from behind; and just generally ignored the management of his signature namesake legislation “ObamaCare” until the problems overwhelmed him; and he again-and again-engaged in the juvenile name-calling and taunting that is his wont (as recently as last month, as Eliot Cohen comments, a petulant Obama said Republicans were offering economic policies that amount to a “stinkburger” or “meanwich” -- this juvenilia from a man who was declared the greatest orator of our age; trash talk is so sophomoric, after all).

 His work load, such as it is, has been simplified to checking off boxes on multiple choice memos handed to him by his small circle of aides.  Who knew that was what he meant when he bragged he would wield his power by virtue of his “pen”?  In college, multiple choice exams were easier after all.

But immaturity is rampant in the administration.

Even liberal New York Times columnist Roger Cohen is dismayed by the “Team of Idolizers” Obama has assembled to lead the nation. What qualifications did the boyish Tommy (the name itself is telling) Vietor have to be the NSC spokesman? A few years ago he was driving the press van for then-Senator Obama “From van driver to national Security Council spokesman.”  Many of them are callow, coddled kids and, like the president, have not been educated or steeled by the real world. They are also brittle and it shows by the contemptuous ways they respond to scrutiny or criticism. Hey Dude, that was two years ago is not very different from Jay Carney saying Benghazi was a long time ago (two years is a long time when you have not experienced much in life).

The highest paid staffer for years at the White House was the twenty-something speechwriter Jon Favreau-a sign of how important bloviating promises meant to be broken was to Obama’s victory- who was famously pictured groping the breast of a cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton while a pal pushed a bottle of beer into Clinton’s mouth. White House meets Animal House.

What qualifications does the thirty-something Ben Rhodes have to be so central to foreign-policy making? Besides being the brother of the president of CBS News that is? A few years ago, after getting a master’s degree in fiction writing from NYU, he was toiling away on a book called “The Oasis of Love,” about a mega-church in Houston, a dog track and a failed romance.”  Hey, Dude, who needs military or diplomatic experience to formulate national security policy?

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was a campaign spokeswoman for  candidate Barack Obama and is now a laughingstock because of her absurd tweets and selfies, as well has her inability to field questions from the press. Experts were shocked when she landed in this key post, since someone so inexperienced could -- and indeed, has -- reflected badly on America’s image to the world.

Should we be shocked that such amateurs populate the administration (think Biden; think the bumbling Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense; one could go on)? After all, as Bill Clinton said to Ted Kennedy a few years ago, Barack Obama was fit for “getting us coffee,” but certainly not capable of being a President.  America did not pick Obama for his competency or record, so why should he be responsible for picking qualified people to help him lead the nation? As a human resources truism puts it, A’s hire A’s -- and B’s hire C’s.  Obama has lived and worked in academia for much of his life, cossetted, indulged, with little exposure or experience with the real world-and it shows.

Are these people really the best and the brightest?


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commented 2014-05-16 03:01:27 -0400 · Flag
Vic writes:

Garbage in – garbage out….