I have long contended that President Obama is in charge on his big-ticket agenda items but disengaged as to policy and implementation details. Recent news reports vindicate my position.
A Government Accountability Institute report found that Obama has not had a one-on-one meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius since the passage of Obamacare more than three years ago. Breitbart reports that veteran Washington adviser David Gergen, who is usually sympathetic to Obama, says the report is an indictment of the entire White House operation and shows that the administration has bordered on "malfeasance."
Typically, White House press spokesman Jay Carney said the report is misleading and based on a ridiculously false premise. He said that Obama and Sebelius meet regularly but that their meetings have not been recorded on the visitor logs.
Seriously, Jay? Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer said that White House visitor logs show that whenever Sebelius has gone to the White House, it has been for social functions with "dozens or hundreds of people." And he mentioned on Sean Hannity's Fox News Channel show that if Obama truly has met with Sebelius privately and left the meetings off the books, Sebelius would be the only Cabinet secretary whose meetings with the White House have been concealed.
Schweizer noted that "the lack of meetings reinforces the severity of what The New York Times describes as the 'deeply dysfunctional relationship between the Department of Health and Human Services and its technology contractors, and tensions between the White House chief of staff and senior health department officials.'" Indeed.
But none of this should surprise anyone who has been paying attention. Throughout his tenure in office, Obama has demonstrated a surprising apathy and an alarming level of disengagement on everything except for Obamacare and his other pet policy projects, including the stimulus bill, infrastructure, nefarious green projects of every imaginable description, gutting the coal industry, obstructing oil drilling, regulating banking, student loans, other educational issues, drones, taxes on the "rich," private jet owners, class warfare, race warfare, gender warfare, abortion, homosexuality issues, recalibrating America's image with the Muslim world, managing America's military decline, unilateral nuclear disarmament and other matters about which he has some angst.
Whoa, you say. That is a large list of policy items, Limbaugh, that you are admitting yourself that Obama is profoundly interested and engaged in. To be sure, I am admitting that -- but with a huge qualifier. Even on those issues close to his heart, Obama is only engaged at the superficial level. He's the agenda setter in chief; don't let anyone fool you into believing someone else is pulling his Manchurian strings in terms of the overall hard-left direction of his presidency. He is also the head cheerleader -- the captain of the squad that travels the country in virtually nonstop campaign mode to propagandize and con the American public into supporting his ideas.
But he is clearly not engaged at the level of policy details and even less in anything having to do with implementing these policies. Just think back to the development of the Obamacare legislation. Obama knew that he wanted to move toward nationalized health care and achieve it as soon as he could get away with it. His various speeches and actions leave little room for doubt on this point.
There is also no doubt that without Obama's initial political capital and his obsessive drive to achieve socialized health care, Obamacare would never have become a reality -- a nightmarish reality but a reality nonetheless. But remember when individuals at public health care forums and politicians would question him about the specifics of his plan? Because he was not conversant with any of the policy details, he could only answer in vague generalities.
The truth was he didn't have a plan, other than a large-scale blueprint. Instead, he delegated the task to Democrats in the Senate and, through the legislative process, tried to steer the bill a certain way; he had little hands-on involvement. Thus, when he said that his bill did not include federal funding for abortion, he was either lying or completely clueless that the Senate bill, which he had now glommed onto as "his plan," did in fact authorize such funding in certain situations. Why else would he have had to bribe recalcitrant Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak with a promise to issue an executive order countermanding the provision authorizing such funding?
We saw this same pattern of governance in Obama's abominable handling of the Gulf oil spill, as I've mentioned before. He was wholly disengaged and largely unconcerned with the damages from the spill, except those to his public relations image, as I documented in my latest book. He obviously didn't understand the complexity of the efforts to plug the leak when he uttered his disgraceful cry of frustration -- "just plug the damn hole" -- as if his regal tantrum would magically eradicate the problem.
I can't prove this, but I bet that in a few years, insiders will begin talking and confirm our suspicions that Obama was precisely this sort of bullying administrator. He orders everyone to accomplish his larger goals and is further willing to campaign and community organize throughout the country at a furious pace to push these items. But as to the details, he is unconcerned, out to lunch and on the golf course and doesn't want to be bothered. I bet we'll also find that his staff either was afraid of his wrath and left him alone when it came to details or just left him alone because he wasn't engaged enough to be useful.
On the bright side, we just have three more years.
David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert in law and politics and author of new book Crimes Against Liberty, the definitive chronicle of Barack Obama's devastating term in office so far.