It’s time to Break It Down!
(Note: This is a Reprised and Amended Presentation of My Original Blog Post)
HAPPY 14th ANNIVERSARY “BREAK IT DOWN!”
Today, in acknowledgement of the 14th anniversary of “Break It Down,” As I have done occasionally in the past, I am revisiting my inaugural blog post.
Before launching into the post, it’s certainly appropriate to contextualize my original post within the parameters of our contemporary timeframe. To do that, I note that post was about a young lion, Barack Obama, coming into what would become his era. A year ago, the Democratic Party, via virtual Convention, officially installed Joe Biden as its nominee. Whereas Obama was one of the youngest to ever carry the banner, Biden is the oldest. That bit of history/trivia was augmented by his selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate. She was the fourth woman to be part of a Presidential Ticket, the third as a VP Candidate, and the first woman of color. Biden had two previous unsuccessful runs. His 2020 effort determined that he was able to register the third time as the charm, while Senator Harris broke the proverbial glass ceiling for women on a ticket.
By contrast, the GOP conducted its Convention, part virtual, part in person, in Charlotte, and part at the White House. The virtual aspects of the Conventions were necessitated due to COVID-19. Donald Trump, of course, was the Party’s nominee, as expected (at least by me) he retained Mike Pence, his first term VP, as his running mate. I mention it in passing, because there was speculation in some corners that Trump would replace Pence, perhaps with a woman. While Trump and his loyalists like to brand him as an anti-establishmentarian, the thought that he’d engage in such a high risk, low reward gambit struck me as unlikely. If there were any present-day pol that was unlikely to elevate a woman to his second-in-command, the name Donald Trump leapt out at me. Enough about the conventions.
Tempus fugit (Time Flies)! Friday marks a significant milestone in the life and development of “Break It Down!” I initiated this blog August 20, 2007, on a lark…almost a dare. That was fourteen years (and 730 editions) ago. Having related the story several times over the past several years, I will not repeat the complete details today.
I will note, however, that on that summer’s eve, I contemplated and discussed, in five paragraphs, the experience, or in reality the lack thereof, of then Senator Barack Obama, as he navigated the early stages of his historic Presidential Campaign. The prodigious parameters of that history were not evident at the time. To be sure, over the next 14-½ months, he bested the odds and won, not only the Democratic Nomination, but also the Presidency, not so unlike what Donald Trump did in 2015-16. In so doing, my lack of conviction, along with that of many others, in Mr. Obama’s ability to claim the nation’s biggest political prize, was exposed as a patently errant assessment. Without question, many people missed on their own un-Nostradamus like projections regarding Donald Trump’s prospects.
I want to make one more note about the blog. In addition to this week marking the Fourteenth Anniversary of Break It Down, today’s post commemorates the Nine-year Anniversary of my using WordPress as the primary Host Platform for the blog. The link, http://TheSphinxofCharlotte.com is simpler and more straightforward than the Blogger (Blogspot) link, http://TheSphinxofCharlotte.blogspot.com. The site design and presentation at WordPress are cleaner, and less busy than the setup I used at Blogger. Please note, while I may eventually migrate Break It Down exclusively to WordPress, the blog remains available at both sites for the foreseeable future.
So, this was the message in Post #1; five brisk paragraphs and a sign-off:
In an apparent calculated act of derring-do, Obama declares the virtue of inexperience. Gotta love it!
Personal footnote of recollection: I recall Jimmy Carter running the classic “anti-Washington” (i.e., lack of Capitol Hill experience) campaign in ’75-76. You know what, it worked.
The problem was, once JC sent all the reigning bureaucrats & policy wonks home, he was left with an assembly of newbies who didn’t understand how to get things done in DC. The result was that a very smart guy, genuine humanitarian, and erstwhile successful leader presided over what was widely perceived as a disastrous presidency. President Carter’s solitary term was fraught with innumerable policy failures (see the Shah of Iran, double-digit inflation, runaway gas prices, & the outrageous Interest/Mortgage rate morass) and public relations gaffes (remember the killer rabbit, and the failed helicopter gambit).
Fortunately for him he was able to live long enough and subsequently do enough good deeds to distance himself from most of an unremarkable tenure as a one-term president, followed by a resounding defeat by that cowboy actor Teflon guy.
Of course, none of that has anything to do with Obama…except in the unlikely event he prevails. If he does, let’s hope he doesn’t take that inexperience thing too far. As W constantly reminds us, getting to the White House is one thing (after all, he’s done it twice), providing prudent and effective leadership once there is quite another.
Posted on Mon, Aug. 20, 2007
Just for perspective, see a news story that the AP carried on the subject that day:
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS DEBATE IN IOWA
Obama posits virtue of inexperience
What rivals criticize as naiveté; he presents as break from status quo
DES MOINES, Iowa –Democrat Barack Obama on Sunday tried to parlay his relative lack of national experience into a positive attribute, chiding his rivals for adhering to “conventional thinking” that led the country to war and has divided the country.
In their latest debate, the candidates also said they favored more federal action to address economic woes that have resulted from a housing slump and tighter credit. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson called the current financial crisis “the Katrina of the mortgage-lending industry.”
Prodded by moderator George Stephanopoulos at the outset of the debate, Obama’s rivals critiqued his recent comments on Pakistan and whether he would meet with foreign leaders — including North Korea’s head of state — without conditions.
“To prepare for this debate I rode in the bumper cars at the state fair,” the first-term senator from Illinois said to laughter and applause from the audience at Drake University.
The debate capped an intense week of politicking in Iowa, an early voting state in the process of picking a nominee. The Iowa State Fair is a magnet for White House hopefuls each presidential election.
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., directly addressing a question about Obama’s relative inexperience, said: “You’re not going to have time in January of ’09 to get ready for this job.” Dodd has served in Congress for more than 30 years.
Former Sen. John Edwards said Obama’s opinions “add something to this debate.” But Edwards said politicians who aspire to be president should not talk about hypothetical solutions to serious problems.
“It effectively limits your options,” Edwards said.
Obama said he could handle the rigors of international diplomacy and noted that many in the race, including Dodd, Edwards and Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Joe Biden, voted to authorize the Iraq war in 2002.
“Nobody had more experience than Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and many of the people on this stage that authorized this war,” Obama said. “And it indicates how we get into trouble when we engage in the sort of conventional thinking that has become the habit in Washington.”
The debate, hosted and broadcast nationally by ABC, took place less than five months before Iowa caucus-goers begin the process of selecting the parties’ presidential nominees.
As we reflect upon the Campaign of 2008 it really does harken the recognition of how swiftly time and events pass. Indeed, I am especially reminded of how supremely confidently the Senator approached his moment. I shall always recall that it propelled me to write, “Obama Plays the Inexperience Card!” Needless to say, he has gained an enormous amount of experience in the years ensuing since then.
As I wrap this up in 2021, it is with a completely different appreciation for what an inexperienced Barack Obama brought to his job, vis-à-vis what an even more politically inexperienced Donald Trump brought to the job for four years. Mr. Obama inherited a fragile country with a downward spiraling economy, a nearly double-digit employment rate, and a foreboding 700,000 job losses per month. By the time he left 8 years later, the unemployment rate had been halved, to less than 5%, the country enjoyed the longest period of consecutive job gains, 75 months, in history, over 11 million jobs had been added, including 1.2 million in his last 6 months in office, while the Dow Jones rose from a slumping 7,949 when he took office to 19, 887 when he exited. No President controls every single lever that triggers all that happens during his (or her) tenure, when things go south, he/she occupies the space where the proverbial buck stops. Conversely, when things trend rosy, he gets a fair amount of the accrued shine.
In that light, Mr. Trump entered office in a much different environment, benefiting from what can rightfully be called the Obama Recovery. Let’s be clear. There is definitely still work to do. But anyone who suggests that Obama didn’t bequeath more and better than he inherited is full of bovine excrement. Full stop!
With that said, in the salad days of the Trump Administration, he surely delighted his base. At least the ones with whom I have spoken believe he’s the cat’s meow, and they say (whether they believe it or not) he did exactly what they hoped for when they voted for him. I would suggest that anyone who didn’t vote for, or support him, or who is undecided about supporting him, should let that sink in for a moment or two, or twenty.
Team Trump contended Democrats, liberals, the Main Stream Media, and some nebulous ill-defined entity referred to as the deep state, were solely responsible for all that stymied or delayed even potential successes by the Trump Administration. So, healthcare, travel ban (or whatever appellation one cares to affix to it), Transgender Military Policy, Charlottesville Messaging, the Obama wiretapping claim, the Flynn firing, the Comey firing, the Spicer firing, the Priebus firing, the Scaramucci firing, the Bannon firing, and oh by the way dare I say, his tweets…Can we really blame all that on the Party that held a minority in both Houses for two years, and that held only one House of Congress for the latter two years, or on a media that has no votes, and presumably no say in who Trump hires in the first place, or fires for that matter, or on the deep state, whatever the Sam Hill that is located?
If you are a Trump trooper, you can, and you almost certainly do. If you are not, then you probably think such an assertion is sheer lunacy on its face. Perhaps…just maybe, he is found difficulty gaining traction because he was not only fighting through an experience deficit, but he was operating with a startling lack of curiosity, matched only by an overabundance of hubris.
It took four years, two impeachments, the country’s most successful election (by the numbers), and an attempted coup, but Joseph Robinette Biden unseated Donald John Trump. He inherited a global pandemic, a crippled economy, a near 20-year war, and a country more polarized than it’s been in decades. The transition has created a space to exhale, even though the Big Lie still echoes in many corners of our country. Freedom won on November 3, 2020.
With that I mind, all things considered, I am inclined to look back on the first time I wrote, “Obama Plays the Experience Card,” and conclude that we (who should be a grateful nation) were very well served by that guy from Honolulu. So today, my emphasis is again…“Obama Plays the Inexperience Card Redux ’21!
I’m done; holla back!
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