Rookie mis­takes

All the pres­i­dent’s er­rors

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

This new pres­i­dent is clearly in over his head. We’re not even a month into his ad­min­is­tra­tion and the wheels are com­ing off. The press is snick­er­ing, as al­ways. Satur­day Night Live has been re­born. Yet one more time again. And with all the gifts this par­tic­u­lar ad­min­is­tra­tion hands the folks at SNL, who can blame the writ­ers for tak­ing ad­van­tage?

It’s only February, a month after the in­au­gu­ra­tion, and colum­nists are writ­ing as if this ad­min­is­tra­tion is in its fi­nal days. We’ve said it be­fore: A pres­i­dency isn’t the place for on-the-job train­ing.

The Cabi­net nom­i­na­tion process has been a train wreck. Were these peo­ple not vet­ted be­fore they were sent up to the Hill? Or pre­pared for all this by friendly ex­perts and Wash­ing­ton in­sid­ers? A few of the choices held their own, sure, but some key nom­i­nees looked am­a­teur­ish. There are too many kids run­ning around in the White House. The Cabi­net, at least, should look pro­fes­sional. But what can one ex­pect when a bunch of folks who want to run Wash­ing­ton have never been in Wash­ing­ton?

The pres­i­dent’s ad­vis­ers are, shall we say, send­ing mixed sig­nals. No telling how much chaos is re­ally go­ing on be­hind the scenes. What we wouldn’t give to be in a room for a few of those pre-press con­fer­ence meet­ings.

Oh boy, does the new pres­i­dent hate to be crit­i­cized in the me­dia. He is fa­mous for his thin skin. He turns col­ors when an­gry, which is prob­a­bly of­ten these days. And crit­i­cized he is, and de­serves to be with some of these de­ci­sions. This new modern me­dia helps his op­po­si­tion, too. You know what we mean. As far as the tra­di­tional me­dia goes, well, this ad­min­is­tra­tion gives us what the mil­i­tary calls a Tar­get Rich En­vi­ron­ment. Al­though some of us are hes­i­tant to de­clare a pres­i­dency DOA after less than a month on duty. (Or as our own John Brum­mett put it: “I’ll hold off on pre­par­ing an obit­u­ary for the [ad­min­is­tra­tion]. Di­a­per rash and ear in­fec­tions are noisy, but sel­dom fa­tal.”)

Why would any new pres­i­dent al­low all these dis­trac­tions? Why fol­low the un­nec­es­sary rab­bit paths that lead to only rab­bit holes when there’s so much big work com­ing in the months ahead? Maybe the pres­i­dent isn’t as smart as the pub­lic once thought. Al Franken looks giddy.

In­deed, some­body de­scribed the new pres­i­dent as “in­cred­i­bly in­ept,” and an­other said the man has “the com­mon sense of a gnat.” Those are the print­able com­ments.

What does the pres­i­dent plan to do about this strug­gling econ­omy? Dis­patches say he’s got a sketch some­where. Of the few specifics that are leaked, ex­perts are al­ready ques­tion­ing if they’ll ac­tu­ally work. Yes, the new pres­i­dent talks a good game. Al­ways has. But We the Peo­ple need more than talk just now.

Con­gress­men are al­ready back­ing away from this pres­i­dent. When the First Lady is in the news, it’s not for a good rea­son. (Boy, is she a dif­fer­ent kind of First Lady.)

Peo­ple are mak­ing fun of the pres­i­dent’s weight. Crit­ics say he has the wrong pol­icy on Rus­sia.

It re­mains to be seen if the pres­i­dent’s plans on im­mi­gra­tion will stand up to con­gres­sional op­po­si­tion and the courts. The Se­nate, for its part, dealt the ad­min­is­tra­tion a se­ri­ous blow when it barred HIV-infected for­eign­ers from en­ter­ing the coun­try. With Dale Bumpers and David Pryor cast­ing votes against their fel­low Arkansan.

And as far as in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions go, the pres­i­dent is warn­ing Haiti’s mil­i­tary rulers about tougher mea­sures . . . .

What?

Of course these were the sto­ries com­ing out of Wash­ing­ton in February of 1993 as the new pres­i­dent, Bill Clin­ton, be­gan to get his bear­ings. For weeks, for months, it was . . . “in­cred­i­bly in­ept,” Satur­day Night Live, Cabi­net stum­bles, di­a­per rash and ear in­fec­tions.

Moral of the story: All new ad­min­is­tra­tions make rookie mis­takes.

How about we see where this goes be­fore declar­ing a failed ad­min­is­tra­tion in its first three weeks?

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