That buck doesn’t stop here anymore

Sol W. Sanders  

Although he did not originate the phrase, President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk through most of his presidency indicating he understood he was the ultimate arbiter of The Republic’s executive decision-making. It said: “The buck stops here”.

Perhaps as important, the back side said, “I‘m from Missouri” — the first part of the state’s famous “Show me!”saying which always demanded proof.

Truman had been farmer, railway man, soldier, [failed] haberdasher, county clerk, [corrupt] big city, political machine hack, [reforming, investigative] senator, [isolated] vice president, before the seeming disaster of his takeover from a stricken FDR He proved his critics wrong on most counts because he understood the presidency from his vast experience.
presidentno-300x199How far we have come in vetted chief executives!

What Truman and our most effective presidents in the modern era have known, is that the Constitution and history have made the presidency a very powerful figure in The Republic’s framework. He must be decisive. In fact, it is not much of an exaggeration to say that it is often as important that he implement a decision as to where he comes down. Ultimately, all decision-making in the U.S, executive depends on the deductions made from, if not the actual word of, the president.

Barrack Hussein Obama has negated that concept, perhaps reflecting his own lifetime of personal ambiguity. He spent a very short time in the private sector as a journalist. Then, as he admits himself, he was a failed ghetto community organizer [because he could find no way to collaborate with black pastors].

We’ll skip the blocked academic record. He did, after all, spend most of his time in the Illinois State Senate voting “present”. Despite his editorship of the Harvard Law Review he never wrote an article. His colleagues at University of Chicago [where he was not, as often reported, either a professor or even a part-time “distinguished professor” but an occasional lecturer] said he never voiced an opinion. You will find virtually no attempt in his brief U.S. Senate tenure to implement legislation.

In one of those historic accidents, and there are many throughout history, he was nevertheless elected twice to the most powerful office in the world. There the essence of what may one day be called The Obama Doctrine as president is a reflection of his earlier career of indecisiveness. It is a negative concept.

Obama is on record publicly as negating the concept of “American exceptionalism”. However you define that political cliché of American politics, it is perfectly clear that without a history of a single racial, ethnic or cultural [and even increasingly, language] homogeneity, the U.S. is, indeed, an ideological construct of its 19th century Founders.

In that sense, it is exceptional, unlike any other nation state in the world. So, whether you accept the concept or not, any political thinker is stuck with its legendary character as “exceptional” even were it not true. The Shinning City on the Hill is as American as Mom and apple pie!

To the extent the President and his closest advisers and colleagues in his administration represent a line of political thought, it is negation: They do not believe in the U.S.’ overwhelming role as the leader of “the free world” nor in what most observers see as its constructive and stabilizing influence since World War II. And never mind that that term has been so abused; Americans and their enemies know what it means: it has been Washington’s worldwide struggle for democratic and peaceful societies with market economics.

They do not believe in guiding the almost inevitability of a huge role for the U.S. in international politics because of its inherent overwhelming and comparative economic, political and military power. But rather they negate American leadership of the postwar world, believing it should be replaced with multinationalism, whether through the agency of the UN or “leading from behind” to maneuver other parties into action — or more likely, inaction. They negate plain talk laying out U.S. aims and strategies, but spout a pseudo-sophisticated jargon of politically correct appeals to fanciful notions about history, e.g., of Islam.

What this has produced in three years is a morass of either failed policies or malign situations which U.S. government policy has been unable to distort or destroy. Furthermore, it also has helped unleash frenzy in every regional conflict on the globe by creating a vacuum of leadership. [see Horror Vacui http://yeoldecrabb.wordpress. Archive].

Here’s a partial list of the Obama negations:

Energy. The U.S. stands on the threshold of self-sufficiency in energy and even the possibility again of being a net exporter. This has arisen from the shale revolution, a technological breakthrough which has not only reduced the price of fossil fuels but [along with reduced economic activity] lessened pollution. Yet this has been accomplished [on private land] despite the Administration’s refusal to release vast government holdings for exploration and development, a war against the coal industry producing 40 percent.of U.S. electricity, and a refusal to okay needed additional pipelines. In addition, the Obama administration has thrown billions at so-called alternate energy projects which have either bankrupted or cost the taxpayer enormously at a time of national economic malaise, and a staggering and escalating deficit.

Unemployment. As a result of the financial crisis of 2007-8 and the resultant Great Recession, for the first time in the post-World War II era, the U.S. is facing staggering unemployment. In addition to the effects of the slowest recovery from any recession since the failed Roosevelt policies of the 1930s, the digital revolution is changing every aspect of the economy and American life at a horrendously rapid pace with unanticipated consequences discovered daily. That includes new structural unemployment. The President and administration spokesmen sometimes suggest ways of ameliorating it. But at the same time they negate policies at every turn which might increase the prospects of employment, whether by adding new taxes to break the back of small business, proposing increases in the minimum wage, taking a benign approach to employment of illegals in the economy, and indeed, awarding them benefits, etc.

Bloated government. Government employment has risen by 700,000 at a time when the economy requires belt-tightening. There has been virtually no effective effort to trim government expenses, whether it is bonuses to corrupt, incompetent and suspended civil servants or the almost daily exposure of scandals involving lavish entertainment and crony capitalism. [There is, for example, General Electric Co., the Obama administration’s favorite corporation which pays no income taxes.] Instead, the administration is proposing a vast new bureaucracy to administer Obamacare, the monstrosity whipped together in a Democratic Congress with virtually no leadership from the White House. It took on the impossible task of revamping a sixth of the economy in one fell swoop.

A similar approach, almost step by step, has taken place in the Senate with a so-called comprehensive immigration which incorporates vast new pork-barrel spending having nothing to do with migration. Despite the oratory, as the repeated rejection of late administration annual budgets by Democrats as well as Republicans in the Congress, there is no economic leadership from the White House. Furthermore, by passing a bill known to face certain defeat in the House, it is a classic case of “I–voted-for-it-before-I voted-against-it” Senate chicanery. It also awards complete latitude to Secretary of Homeland “Big Sis” Napolitano to negate any touted border security aspects since she claims the border is now secure.

Foreign Policy. The list of refusals of the Administration to deal with international issues is virtually unlimited.

In Iraq, the President negated taking a personal hand in negotiating a status of forces agreement leading to almost no influence on that regime after all the wartime sacrifices and the loss of expansion of its oil resources to China.

In Afghanistan, the Obama administration refuses to stem a helter-skelter withdrawal with totally ineffective results, e.g., delivery of huge quantities of materiel to a nascent but untried Afghan military — including aircraft for a pilotless air force.

In Syria, having failed to take a position early in the peaceful revolt against the Assad regime, the Administration is now positioning forces in that artificial, chronically unstable Jordanian state with 15 percent of its population now Syrian refugees. It is obviously a new entanglement but negates a strategy for keeping the jihadists from power in Damascus.

In Israel, Secretary of State John Kerry continues yammering about negotiations for a two-state solution after that train has left the station, if for no other reason because there is no valid Palestinian negotiating entity. Would even the most subservient to U.S. aid Israeli government create another jihadist state such as Hamas’ Gaza in Judea-Samaria with its mortars trained on Tel Aviv?

With China, Obama sought to set relations on a dangerous personal path between himself and President Xi Jinping, negating action on a half dozen crises-ridden bilateral issues.

Meanwhile, Beijing officials dealing with skyrocketing domestic crises, continue mercantilist policies which exacerbate American unemployment and threaten the international financial system. Africa, having negoated the dramatic initiatives of the Bush administration, the President and his family set off on a $100 million African junket [even though they did cancel a safari!]. It is nominally aimed at encouraging trade but with no specific proposals, and indeed, largely ignoring local efforts to talk up those issues.

Obama’s negation of the onerous job of dealing with the legislative branch on a daily basis [as he apparently has his daily morning intelligence briefing] has been at the root of fiascos in recent scandal-ridden weeks. Somewhere, somehow, this Administration’s gurus have a concept that its leader reigns but does not rule. That is not the traditional chief executive role. “Presidential deniability” – “protecting” the chief executive from the onus of ugly decisions or presidential actions gone awry by eliminating paper [or now electronic records] to “prove” that he is ignorant of the subject — has been developed into a new art form by these Obama administrators.

With not much hope the patterns of the past three years will change — only with the faint promise of a brake by a continuing Republican House of Representatives and a possible Republican Senate in 2014 — the economic as well as political prospects are bleak.

Sol W. Sanders, ([email protected]), is a contributing editor for and and blogs at