President Obama just keeps on spinning and spending

The problem with seeing politics as just a media strategy is you have to keep appearing on more and more shows, and finding different things to say to keep the audiences interested. It can also lead to media blunders, as it did with the unfortunate remarks about disability. Such “events” come to have more significance for some in this media age than the realities of bad government and failed policies which affect millions of lives. That’s an argument for not doing so many of these media fests, and for spending more time behind closed doors trying to work out what to do.

Yesterday the President seemed to announce a vital change of approach to Afghanistan in an interview. Wouldn’t it have been better to have worked out with his team how and when they can get out of Afghanistan first? What has happened to the strategy on which he fought the election of reinforcing the positions and intensifying the fighting? And why did he say Iraq was easier, when I thought he had been against Iraq?

As somone who has always wanted to see the UK get out of Afghanistan, I have never called for us to reinforce the position or implied that more fighting will suddenly transform the position. The President is the crucial man who will determine the tempo, purpose and success of this long and worrying war. His statements can put lives at risk. They need to be thought through, and are often best uttered after he has taken the necessary actions.

The same is true of his economic strategy. We learn that this week he is going to spend another half trillion or was it a trillion on bailing out bad banks and other financial institutions. Is there no limit to the amounts he will commit to this? Is there no sense of any danger, or that taxpayers might reach the end of their credit worthiness?

The President talks well and understands the mood of the country. That is fine, but he needs to govern well, otherwise his talk will not be believed. Spin is just spin, unless it accurately reflects what is going on.

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6 Comments

  1. Ian Jones
    Posted March 23, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Anyone who compares themselves to truly great men before they even start set expectations they will never achieve. Reputations are created by historians and are not usually seen at the time due to the “current affairs” which cloud real achievements.

    Obama has the opportunity to do great things but by trying to be a “celebrity” he is simply turning people off and will lose the support he really needs to change things in America.

    The main problem is that it gives our PM the ammunition to say his mate Obama is blowing the budget so why not us…..

  2. Demetrius
    Posted March 23, 2009 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Unluckily, because of the “spoils system” in staffing the senior ranks of State in the USA in a post election period, the President is missing many members of the team in too many critical positions in key departments. In rugger terms he may have a front row of the pack and a couple of backs floating around trying to work out what game they are playing, but the rest of the team have yet to be recruited from the local pubs and clubs. When they turn up, whether they will know much or be able to grasp the essential issues is simply speculation.

  3. THE ESSEX BOYS
    Posted March 23, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    We have said regularly that the way to stabillise Afghanistan and to withdraw eventually is for the western world to formalise and buy the poppy crop for medical use.
    We understand there is a world shortage for ethical purposes.

    By so doing we could license farmers and logically introduce an inspection procedure that would allow us to monitor the position within the country.
    Thereby we would incentivise the ordinary Afghan to work with and not against us and simultaneously use additional foreign aid to encourage and finance diversification into other crops pending the day that their poppy crop is of less value.

    We have read of others putting forward this concept in the 4 years we have promoted it (Douglas Carswell is one MP who has been outspoken on the issue) but have never heard an argument as to why this is not a better solution to a war we cannot win and a seemingly intractable world problem.

  4. Neil Craig
    Posted March 23, 2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I used to think we had to stay in Iraq. However & have recently come to the conclusion that bin Laden is dead & has been for years. Since our only reason for going there was to avenge 9/11 there is no reason to stay now. Let them mismanage their own country (or perhaps countries splitting it into a Northeralliancestan & a Pathanstan).

  5. Steve Tierney
    Posted March 23, 2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I’ve said for some time he’d turn out to be a disaster
    and I certainly haven’t changed my position.

    Which is a shame, really. He’s such a brilliant
    orator that there was the potential for a truly
    historic presidency beyond the obvious “first
    black president” tagline.

    Instead, I suspect history will not view him
    kindly when his current decisions have fully
    played out.

  6. mikestallard
    Posted March 23, 2009 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    I am not an American, so I try not to talk about American politics. But I do want to say that the enormous strength – yes today – of the economy there and of the American policy throughout the world makes their problem seem very small compared with ours.

    Also, I wonder why we are in Afghanistan? Does anyone know?
    Is it geopolitics where we seize the heartland of Islam?
    Is it to control the heroin trade?
    Is it to repair a war torn country?
    Is it to popularise the “Kite Runner” and “A Thousand sparkling (??) Suns?”
    I just wish someone would tell us because at the moment we aren’t doing any of these things.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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