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Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop
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Blaming Obama for Not Being a God


Gulf Coast residents are supposedly mad at President Obama for not keeping the oil from threatening their beaches and marshes. We hear this in stereo — from political opposition on the right and liberal pundits bored by the president's cerebral approach to problem-solving.

Stopping the waves is a job for Neptune, not a president. Obama cannot raise his trident and force the oil back into the hole. There are things he can do, but they're a lot less impressive.

Granted, Obama's early campaign for president cultivated a myth of his godlike powers. And some still seem to buy into the magic narrative. Columnist Maureen Dowd writes that "Barack Obama is a guy who is accustomed to having stuff go right for him." Sunday talk show panelists repeated this idea, followed by "and now look what's happening to him": A vast oil spill brings disaster in the gulf. Israel complicates Mideast diplomacy by killing would-be blockade breakers. The new job numbers are lousy.

With all due respect to colleagues, these things aren't happening to Obama. They are happening to the world. Obama's vaunted "good luck" was in campaign politics, a far smaller and more manageable stage than he's playing on today. There has never been a time in world history when stuff wasn't happening.

No, his stimulus didn't end the scourge of high unemployment. That is a long-term and structural challenge, made tougher by the recent recession. No one is going to cheer a 9.7 percent jobless rate, even if it was a tad below April's. But one can argue that it might have gone a lot higher without the stimulus.

Obama's critics can rationally blame him for announcing plans to expand offshore drilling — especially before cleaning up the sex-addled Minerals Management Service, which is supposed to regulate the industry.

But they can't ask, as some on the right have, why Obama hasn't managed to stop the crisis a mile underwater. Or, as the left asks, why the administration put faith in BP's early reports about the blowout. The answer to both questions is that BP is there, a mile below the surface, and the U.S. government is not.

The proper government response? Do what is humanly possible to keep the oil from shore, as BP fixes the well. The administration is doing that. It has also reversed plans on expanding offshore drilling, pending an investigation of what went wrong.

But on the left, Atlantic writer Joshua Green criticizes Obama for "his abiding faith in the judgment of experts." Columnist Frank Rich agrees: Whether the subject is the oil spill or the troubled campaign in Afghanistan or even divining future unemployment rates, Obama has erred by relying on experts. Solving these problems "may be beyond the reach of marathon brainstorming by brainiacs," Rich writes, "even if the energy secretary is a Nobel laureate."

Fine. That the best and the brightest can get it wrong is not quite news. But if not experts, whom should Obama listen to? Should he check the horoscope, or take his troubles down to Madame Ruth? If the experts aren't performing as desired, he can find different experts.

For my taxpayer dollar, I'd prefer a calm leader who works with the most respectable opinions he can find. Some of the worst Obama decisions — going passive during the health care ruckus and pushing for new offshore drilling — came not from listening to science, economic and military experts, but his political advisers.

In dealing with "stuff," Obama does not make the grade as a god. But as an intelligent human being playing a tough hand of cards, he's not been that bad.

To find out more about Froma Harrop, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at




7 Comments | Post Comment
To err is human by definition; gods being gods are incapable of errors and therefore are capable of inhumane actions….
What you see as god like in Obama; I see as arrogant and ignorant in an absurd duet that has cost people their livelihoods and has hurt the environment through unadulterated vacillation.
For whom the gods wish to humble Froma, they first make proud… Prideful Mr. Obama had no problem trying to look like a Greek god in 2008. In 2010 he looks a lot more human…even somewhat sophomoric….
Comment: #1
Posted by: Spohip
Tue Jun 8, 2010 12:55 AM
This woman is nothing more than a hack who isn't qualified to post in the Weekly Reader. An Obama groupie who couldn't tell the truth if she was sitting on George Washingtons lap with a lie detector chained to her body.
Obama was never seen as a God by anyone outside the Democratic Party. Did you actually the nick-names given to him during his campaign, the Messiah, the Chosen one, the Anointed one, the Saviour etc: were given to him by the Tea Party?
This is the guy who looked into the camera, on national TV and read proudly from his teleprompter, "we know what's wrong, we know how to fix it, and we're going to hit the ground running". Well, he didn't what was wrong, he doesn't know how to fix it, and he fell flat on his face.
His economic plan is a plan of economic disaster modelled after Greece in 2001, borrow your way out of debt. A healthcare package modelled after Spain, who would tell him he is out of his mind. The only Countries who offered congratulations on the passage were Castro (Cuba) and Chavez (Venezuela) who said "this is a first step in the right direction"
"His stimulus didn't end the high rate of unemployment". How could it? It wasn't spent on creating jobs. 140 new Govt agencies employing 351,000 brand new Govt workers, who do not add $.00 of revenue for our economy. They create nothing, they produce nothing nothing and are paid for with our taxes.
BP, what went wrong? How about the certificate of Safety awarded in April, when the rig WAS NOT inspected because the Obama appointee "was too cosy with big oil"? And was nominated for the "Safety Award of the Year" in APRIL, 3 weeks before the explosion. Said he would listen to anything possible that would help, And was too busy with his schedule too return several calls from Jindal for 3 days. Playing golf first day, A Dem fund raiser the second day, private golf day with Biden third day.
China, "he hasn't the courage to stand up to his enemies, and he hasn't the courage to stand behind his friends"
"If China wanted to defeat the US we wouldn't have to fire one shot". "All we would have to do is flood the market with US Treasuries printed by this Administration.
And on, and on, and on. If you want to help America donate ANYTHING you can to the Tea Party. $50, $20, $1, anything.

Vincent Macaro, President Mid Atlantic Financial Services. 47 years of sound financial experience.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Vincent Macaro
Tue Jun 8, 2010 10:08 AM
Through the last administration, liberals were blaming Bush for not being a God, either. Keep in mind that Bush was criticized for not being "hands-on" enough when it came to Hurricane Katrina.
The Gulf is Obama's Katrina. His Presidency will, in part, be defined by his action/inaction in this regard. We see some muscle flexing but little else.
Conservatives have never been keen on his policies and many liberals seem to be cooling to his leadership style.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Michael Goodfellow
Tue Jun 8, 2010 2:44 PM
Froma, No one wants or expects Obama to be a "god". We expect him to act like The President of the united States. From "day one", plans were in place to be implemented to start preventing the oil from reaching the coast. Floating berms, collectors, skimmers, up to and including sand berms near shore to catch anything that got away. As I write this, I have found no, I repeat, NO, permits have been approved to get started. The oil has spread to the coast and will be more difficult to mitigate. Lessons learned from the Valdez spill were ignored or discarded. BP may have been responsible for the initial release, unless they were sabotaged. Everything reaching shore is a direct result of inexperienced, self serving politics. President Obama is personally responsible for refusing to act, as a man and as the President of the united States to minimize the consequences. In an age of computers, where facts are available at the fingertips, the kind of sensational, tabloid reporting, complete with misinformation and perhaps outright lies is inexcusable.
Comment: #4
Posted by: David Henricks
Tue Jun 8, 2010 3:00 PM mean like Bush got blamed for Katrina? Only to be quickly replaced by "The RESPONSE to Katrina"? Only to be replaced by whatever bit of mud could be thrown together and thrown on him? Are you perplexed that this absurd notion is now applied to Obama? Are you really such a partisan hack that can't see that what you did to Bush is now coming back to bite you in the butt?
Comment: #5
Posted by: rjflorida
Wed Jun 9, 2010 3:22 AM

Thank you so much for today's column------a much deserved positive word about our extremely hard-hardworking, and terribly, unreasonably, maligned President! Would that there was as much of this kind of public expression about him as there certainly is of the opposite kind-----ugly and unreasoning-----in the media and elsewhere!

There must be more who desperately feel the need for more reasonableness in opinions expressed about Obama. That there isn't, makes one wonder how much writers are striving to please their own ideas of "the public" rather
than really think, and write more honestly!

Comment: #6
Posted by: Ev Raser
Wed Jun 9, 2010 12:16 PM
Oh Froma, it is very unprofessional to log in as Ev Raser and compliment yourself and still try support the unsupportable Obama.
Children fantasize their world as they would like it to be, no matter how impractical or impossible. ; Responsible adults look at the world critically and strive to make it better.
Obama is failing as a president. Is it any surprise considering that he is the least experienced person ever elected to the office?
Comment: #7
Posted by: Spohip
Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:23 AM
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