Mort Zuckerman: Obama’s Competence Crisis

The rising impatience with the leadership of President Obama was epitomized on Aug. 8 in the middle of one of the now-habitual Wall Street roller coasters. His speech on the economy was 53 minutes late. What showed on TV screens was an empty White House podium, an image suggestive of the absence of leadership. When the president did speak, the best he could come up with was “We’ve always been and always will be a triple-A country.” The market’s response was a Bronx cheer, a drop of another 300 points.

Mr. Obama seems unable to get a firm grip on the toughest issue facing his presidency and the country—the economy. He now asserts he is going to “pivot” to jobs. Now we pivot to jobs? When there are already 25 million Americans who are either unemployed or cannot find full-time work? Does this president not appreciate what is going on?

Fewer Americans are working full-time today than when Mr. Obama took office. We have lost over 900,000 full-time jobs in the last four months alone, and long-term unemployment is at a post-World War II high. The public’s faith in his ability to deal with the economy has plunged. As Doyle McManus of the L.A. Times put it, “Can this president persuade voters to let him keep his job when so many have lost theirs?” Even Jimmy Carter didn’t plumb the depths of national dissatisfaction revealed in the stunning Gallup poll taken Aug. 11-13. The president’s approval rating was only 39% with a mere 26% approving of his handling of the economy.

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