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