Jun
13
2013

Ulysses S Obama?

I have a fundamental objection to US News and World Report’s Lara Brown’s take on Barack Obama:

With the revelations of another new and potentially serious scandal, Obama’s presidency becomes more Grant than Lincoln each day.

Not Fitzgerald Grant’s fictional presidency of television series “Scandal” fame, for it abounds with adept fixers, perceptive optics, heroic motives and clever dialogue. I mean Ulysses S. Grant’s scandal-plagued presidency, which was replete with clumsy denials, regretful dismissals, base enticements and desperate political ploys.

Well, actually I have two.  The first objection is that, strictly speaking, the ‘S’ in Grant’s name didn’t actually stand for anything, and thus probably doesn’t require a period after it*.  I know, I know: pedantry.  But my second objection is not pedantry: I frankly think that it does a great disservice to Grant to compare him to Barack Obama.  Ulysses S Grant, after all, showed mastery of a skill set that turned out to be absolutely vital for the very survival of the United States of America.  Barack Obama can read a speech off of a teleprompter.

But yeah, unfortunately neither man was or is any good at actually running the Executive Branch – although, again, I give Grant full points for at least having principles, and for not simply abandoning them as soon as the polls suggested that it’d be convenient to do so.  As for Obama… it’s partially the fact that he had no executive experience, prior to becoming President.  It’s partially because he’s never had a Chief of Staff who could keep things humming (and smack down the President’s inner circle of advisors, which is often critical).  But largely it’s because while Barack Obama may have wanted the job of President, he’s shown very little interest in actually doing it.  Which is kind of unfortunate, because the job isn’t a sinecure.  We actually expect proper work out of the man.

Which we’re not getting.

Moe Lane

*Botched paperwork on his nomination to West Point.  Otherwise he’d have been Hiram U. Grant, which while still pretty Civil War-era hardcore doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as does Unconditional Surrender Grant.

4 Comments

  • sicsemperstolidissimum says:

    In fairness, I recall a song identifying him as Ulysses ‘Simpson’ Grant.
    .
    Charitably speaking, it might not be that Obama doesn’t want to do the job of President. It might be that he simply has views about what the office of President properly entails that are different from your understanding, and from mine. For example, appointing a bunch of loyal, reliable sycophants that are willing to corrupt the system. At least this might be the case as far as scandals go.
    .
    Or he may be incapable to the point that he does not realize the full scope of the position. If he is innumerate, poorly educated in science, business, and technology, and weak at research and analysis, he may have confused soundbites with effective policy, and fundamentally misunderstood the nature of leadership, management, and negotiation.
    .
    Or maybe he didn’t realize that actions have consequences. There have long been signs of impairments in foresight, planning and looking at things from different perspectives, as might be expected from one who spent their formative years a chronic pot user.
    .
    ‘I am shocked, shocked that Thomas a Becket was murdered, and I found out about it in the paper when you did.’
    .
    The speech writers may well not have known, and they are not the ones who are in the position of penultimate responsibility. (The American People have ultimate responsibility, because we hired the man.)

    • Crawford says:

      Family friend Hamer, who wrote the recommendation, couldn’t remember Grant’s middle name and assumed it was his mother’s middle name: Simpson.
      .
      Hey, you grow up in the Land of Grant, remember going to see movies in a drive-in outside Hamersville, and these things stick in your head.

  • Catseyes says:

    It is unfair to Grant at least he tried to do the job to the best of his ability. O’bama seems to see himself as the figurehead for the people who really make the decisions in his administration. I do think they’re going to be uncovering more wrongdoing after O’bama leaves office then is apparent now. Just the question of how widespread the practice of having fake email accounts to keep things off the record should be interesting.

  • CBart says:

    Hold on there. U.S. Grant was a sincere, honest, & competent president. There were some scandals, but he suppressed the KKK, did some good in foreign affairs, made unpopular economic decisions that were good for the country. If you are interested in this a good book about it is President Grant Reconsidered by Frank J. Scaturro.

    There is a pattern here. Warren G. Harding rescinded Wilson’s “fascist” laws and set the antiwar prisoners free, quickly ended a economic depression and reduced the budget. But he had an affair (disputed), drank whiskey and played poker in the White House, therefore he was a terrible president. FDR prolonged the depression by 8 years, had a mistress, and a huge deficit. But he was a towering giant of American history. I wonder who writes this stuff. Oh yeah, liberal historians. Surprise!

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