NRL News

Grading Obama as a (Chief) Executive

by | Dec 31, 2013


By Dave Andrusko

President Barack Obama Photo credit: AP

President Barack Obama
Photo credit: AP

To anyone whose eyes were not fogged over with uncritical admiration/adoration for President Obama, it comes as no secret that his presidency threatens to unravel. Look at his background—largely one elected position after another which he quickly grew tired of. and completely free of any executive experience—and why would anyone believe he would a particularly capable Chief Executive?

Come the last day of the first year of his second term and POLITICO writes this:

“A glitchy website and a wave of canceled plans gave Obama the worst headlines of his presidency in 2013, but at year’s end a range of management experts interviewed by POLITICO said a central question tended to get lost in the partisan firefight: To what extent do Obamacare’s early problems reflect the limitations, in experience and intellectual interest, of its namesake?”

Indeed. So what do the management experts tell Elizabeth Titus and John F. Harris? (Hint, the headline is “Management experts knock Obama.”)

If you were not in the tank for Mr. Obama, the conclusions drawn in the next two paragraphs are/were as obvious as the nose on your face:

“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.’”

Put another way, the one railroad they DID know how to run was campaigns. It’s the “Now what?” after having been elected—and re-elected–that has largely escaped the President and his administration.

There’s some interesting back and forth in the story, and comparisons drawn between Obama and President George W. Bush (expected) but also between Obama and former President Clinton (less so). But the core, obviously, is the bungled rollout of ObamaCare, the impact of which has been to drag the President’s approval ratings way below 50%–and often hovering around 40%–and undermine confidence both in him and ObamaCare.

The POLITICO piece ends with a harsh but fair conclusion:

“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 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.’”

Please join those who are following me on Twitter at Send your comments to

Categories: Obama