Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Is President Obama Competent?
Competence, like truth, health, and contact lenses, is in the eyes of the beholder.
Laurence J. Peter (1919-1990), Creator of Peter Principle which states that sooner or later in any organization everyone rises to a level of incompetence
President Obama is going through a rough patch.   His favorable/unfavorable ratings have dropped to their lowest levels - over-all approval (39/54), credibility (38/59), health law (39/55), and trust (44/53).  He is undergoing two crises – credibility and competence.
Critics are fond of saying President Obama has never run a business, never met a payroll, never fired anyone, and never managed anything.   
Add to this his problems of deceiving the public about keeping their doctors, hospitals, and health plans.  
Factor in the fact that he and his associates knew in advance these problems would occur because they were clearly spelled out in the health law.  
Throw in skyrocketing health care premiums and deductibles, fear, confusion, and uncertainty about the future, and Rick Santorum and a Washington Post opinion writer and conservative pundits questioning his performance, and President Obama has enormous credibility and competence image problems.
Is Obama up to the job?   Is he learning on the job?  Can he do the job properly?  Does he have the requisite knowledge and management skills?   Can an activist like Obama competently introduce and manage a vast complex law transforming 1/6 of the nation’s economy? Can he adapt?  Can he lead a fragmented and divided nation?
These are the questions that keep surfacing. It is difficult to put all these things in context because “competence” is a multifaceted thing open to the beholder’s interpretation.   
President Obama is a competent politician who was elected twice.   He is a competent, even a superb, speaker.   He is superlative campaigner and fund raiser.  He is a competent mobilizer and social organizer of minorites   He is a competent husband and father.  He is likable. 
He is not good at reconciling or compromising with political opponents, and he may not be good at the nitty gritty of governing, but this week these weaknesses  may be irrelevant.
As  events unfold surrounding the celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life, death, and ultimate triumph.   President Obama will prove once again that he is apotheosis of racial reconciliation.   He is a competent, indeed, an inspiring symbol of what a person can become, given opportunity and freedom.  
To blacks and other minorities, and white majorities, he is  symbolic of what freedom can do. It is  that, not his  performance or managerial skills, that resonate. Obama is at his best giving testimonies at ceremonies.  He is the Commander-in-Grief, a competent master of expressing condolences and inspiration in times in the wake of death, violence, and tragedy.   In this context, questions of competence will fade into the background.
Tweet:  Credibility and competence crises besetting President Obama will fade as he celebrates the life, death, and triumph of Nelson Mandela.

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