Obama and the Trouble With Voting ‘Present’

By KARL ROVE, WSJ

 Obama is only voting present

When Barack Obama announced he was running for president in February 2007, Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg Political Report wrote "Obama’s history of voting ‘present’" in Springfield, Ill.—even on some of the most controversial and politically explosive issues . . . raises questions . . . Voting ‘present’ is one of the three options in the Illinois Legislature (along with ‘yes’ and ‘no’) but it’s almost never an option for the occupant of the Oval Office."

Mr. Gonzales’s words were prescient. Barack Obama may now be president, but at times he appears to be merely present. That has been the case with his response to the environmental catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. The president was late recognizing the disaster’s magnitude, late in visiting the region, late in approving requests by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and late in feigning outrage. He has never offered an independent plan to stop the leak.

Mr. Obama also seems disinterested in hearing from experts about the spill. The White House’s "Deep Water Horizon Response Timeline" doesn’t list a single meeting between Mr. Obama and industry experts, though he did send Energy Secretary Steven Chu and others to Houston May 12 to meet with BP and others.

Yet while the president says his Noble Prize-winning energy secretary has been "examining every contingency," Mr. Chu was clueless about BP’s plans to install a cap over the well to funnel oil to a vessel on the surface. As the New York Times reported last Saturday, "After the cap was successfully placed, Mr. Chu wondered aloud why oil was still spewing." BP engineers had to explain that oil was still coming from vents that "would be closed very slowly to ensure that mounting pressure would not force the cap off."

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He Was Supposed to Be Competent

BY Peggy Noonan, WSJ

 so much for that theory…

I don’t see how the president’s position and popularity can survive the oil spill. This is his third political disaster in his first 18 months in office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning they were shaped by the president’s political judgment and instincts.

There was the tearing and unnecessary war over his health-care proposal and its cost. There was his day-to-day indifference to the views and hopes of the majority of voters regarding illegal immigration. And now the past almost 40 days of dodging and dithering in the face of an environmental calamity. I don’t see how you politically survive this.

The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen. This is a terrible thing to see in a political figure, and a startling thing in one who won so handily and shrewdly in 2008. But he has not, almost from the day he was inaugurated, been in sync with the center. The heart of the country is thinking each day about A, B and C, and he is thinking about X, Y and Z. They’re in one reality, he’s in another.

The American people have spent at least two years worrying that high government spending would, in the end, undo the republic. They saw the dollars gushing night and day, and worried that while everything looked the same on the surface, our position was eroding. They have worried about a border that is in some places functionally and of course illegally open, that it too is gushing night and day with problems that states, cities and towns there cannot solve.

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