Since we are about to run out of 2013, it’s time for That Was the Year That Was 2013, which like all the previous TWTYTWs is based on …
One year ago at this time, there were dire predictions of the death of the Republican Party, the tea party and the conservative movement because Barack Obama was reelected president. No one is saying that anymore, because the Obama administration has worked hard to validate the most dire predictions of a second Obama term even beyond the ObamaCare disaster.
The year started with the fiscal cliff and the Farm Bill cliff, the former of which was followed by a federal government slowdown, while the latter just got pushed back a year. But ObamaCare is going to be the gift that keeps on giving for Republicans, as (1) more people have policies canceled than get ObamaCare (let alone pay for it), and ObamaCare recipients find out that policies are (2) much more expensive but (3) deliver worse care.
We learned that the Internal Revenue Service harassed conservative groups to get them to shut up before the 2012 election. That, by any rational definition, should be an impeachable offense. (That was one of Richard Nixon’s articles of impeachment.) Obama continued his war against the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Second Amendment (though Obama has been great for the gun industry and gun dealers), but the First Amendment and other civil liberties too.
Five years after Obama took office, we have nearly 10 million more people in poverty. The U6 rate — the correct measure of unemployment, including people who want to work full-time but can only find part-time work, and those who have quit looking for work — has never been lower than the highest point during the George W. Bush presidency. Government debt is now more than 100 percent of gross domestic product. Hell of a job, Barack. (But if you criticize Obama, you’re racist.)
In addition, Obama is clearly a terrible manager, and that’s not merely my opinion. Politico reports:
After the HealthCare.gov debacle first exploded three months ago, President Barack Obama pleaded for people to cut him a little slack: “I wanted to go in and fix it myself, but I don’t write code.”
At his year-end news conference recently, he struck a different tone: “Since I’m in charge, obviously, we screwed it up.”
“We screwed it up” is not exactly the same thing as “I screwed it up.” Even so, those two quotes are mileposts on one of 2013’s biggest stories: Obama’s bumpy graduate-level education in management theory. …
The heart of the issue, many of these people say, is that Obama and his inner circle had scant executive experience prior to arriving in the West Wing, and dim appreciation of the myriad ways the federal bureaucracy can frustrate an ambitious president. And above all, they had little apparent interest in the kind of organizational and motivational concepts that typically are the preoccupation of the most celebrated modern managers.
“No one asked you to write code or be a technical expert, but the expectation is you can set up a process,” said Kellogg School of Management professor Daniel Diermeier. “Companies do it every day.” …
The critiques from these experts also raise a broader issue: Historically, the presidency is a political office, or, at its best, what Franklin D. Roosevelt called “a position of moral leadership.”
Just two modern presidents came to the office identified primarily with large-scale organizational achievements: Dwight D. Eisenhower in World War II and Herbert Hoover for leading European famine relief after World War I. Hoover’s failure, in particular, damaged the notion that effective managers necessarily make effective presidents.
It is also a fact, however, that Obama came to office with less executive experience — precisely none — than any president since Gerald Ford. …
“Where we’re seeing these costs are with the largest policy processes in the administration,” said John Hudak, a fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. “So it’s easier to sort of smooth over or tuck away some of the small-ball managerial failures, but this is a really big one and one that requires a lot of managerial expertise and it just wasn’t there and it’s not there in the White House.” …
“Have you created an environment where it is not only OK, but it is rewarded to raise your hand early and say, ‘This worries me’?” one longtime management consultant said. “The worst technique that happens in a lot of organizations is it’s simply macho pressure. ‘Well, you gotta get it done.’ That feels good for about 30 seconds, then you’re back in deep sh—.” …
To listen to Obama discuss the rollout through the fall, he was still figuring out some of the finer points, too. If he had known healthcare.gov wasn’t going to work by its launch date, he said in mid-November, “I wouldn’t be going out saying, boy, this is going to be great.”
“In management circles, that’s an indictment,” said the longtime consultant. “How could you not know? And if no one told you, you’re still culpable for that too.”
The global warming/climate change/whatever-it-is-it’s-man’s-fault types refuse to shut up in the face of their disappearing credibility. In fact, Mike Smith, who unlike Al Gore is an actual meteorologist, says:
Again in 2013, the world experienced another year where temperatures were well below predicted levels, in spite of ever-rising levels of carbon dioxide.
Now, after a decade and a half of no real warming and temperatures remaining far colder than forecast, we taxpayers can, and should, ask whether governments should continue spending huge ($165 Billion and climbing) amounts of money on something that may not even be a serious threat. …So, increasing the already proliferate spending on global warming to a mind-numbing $450 billion per year versus $1.3 billion per year to bring clean drinking water and modern sanitation to most of the people in Africa who need it.Which is the more worthy cause?According to UNICEF, 6,000 people, mostly children, die each day in Africa from waterborne diseases and poor sanitation! Put another way, by spending 0.29% of the proposed spending on global warming for a speculative goal (we can really control the weather?), we could save 80% of those deaths by using proven technology!Think about that number: 2,200,000 lives saved for less than 1%of what we are spending on global warming.Right now, during the Antarctic summer, we have a bunch of global warming zealots stuck in the ice because they believed their own propaganda about the ice shrinking when it is really growing. Three ships have tried to rescue them without success. Think about the pollution this is adding to the region! Their rescuers have been put in harm’s way because of the zealot’s disregard for the scientific facts.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin (which, in our most southern parts, has already seen two nights of double-digit-below-zero lows), the state Legislature cut taxes, something a Democratic Legislature and governor would never do, though the tax cut was really insufficient compared to what I proposed. But state tax cutting is not necessarily over, after Walker floated the trial balloon of eliminating the state income tax. (Which won’t happen, and maybe shouldn’t happen, but it’s nice to hear something from a politician other than “we need more revenue.”)
I’m not going to go through the controversies du jour, ranging from Miley Cyrus to “Duck Dynasty.” I’ve forgotten others. They eventually go away, because everything in pop culture eventually goes away except pop culture itself.
As for me, professional recognition was nice. Not so nice was finding out that I’m getting older, because the first publisher to hire me and a former competitor both died in the past year. My friend and former broadcast partner also joined Harry and Skip Caray in the great broadcast booth upstairs, along with Frank’s baseball hero, Stan Musial.
This has to be a personal highlight, from Facebook Friend Tim Donovan:
As always, may your 2014 be better than your 2013.