The Obama Presidency

December 1, 2013



When Senator Obama was running for president, one of the concerns highlighted for me by someone smarter than me was that he had never before actually run anything in his life. He had never been in the position of being responsible for an income statement and balance sheet. His single greatest accomplishment was writing a book…about himself.

He then decided to run to be the chief executive of the planet’s biggest income statement and balance sheet. Unless one has been in that role, even on a small scale, one just doesn’t know whether they’ll have the capability to make the necessary decisions, ask the right questions and have the correct judgement to be a CEO.

President Obama has been described to me by an American friend (retired USAF Colonel who lived most of his early years overseas and then built up and sold a plastics business with 700 employees) who voted Obama the first time as going from America’s Commander in Chief to America’s Commander in Confusion.

If you’re interested in US politics this thorough New York Times article may be of interest.



5 Responses to “The Obama Presidency”

  1. Look, I have great respect for well-run businesses. I just don’t want to live in any country with a chief exec. who thinks a nation should be the same thing AS a business. I don’t want a for-profit country, unless it’s for the profit of everyone, not just an elite designated as “worthy”.

    There are things about Obama I dislike and oppose, but his not being a businessman isn’t one of them.

    • Thanks for your comment. The post isn’t meant to suggest being a successful president can only be the case if you’ve been a businessman. It suggests that successful presidents (Clinton, Reagan) previously had CEO type responsibilities. Neither of Clinton or Reagan had been businessmen or run for profit enterprises. But in both cases they had been in CEO type roles (governor of Arkansas and governor of California).

      • Thank you for that clarification. I understand your point better now, though I still disagree. I do appreciate your effort and the article made me think.

        Ranking presidents according to different attributes is an enjoyable exercise. The process of doing it reveals many truths about how history is written and taught, and how perceptions bias the remembrance of fact.

        Both Clinton and Reagan are ranked very highly (2nd-5th place) in polls that query the general public. They were popular with large groups of voters, and they served within recent memory. However, both are ranked right in the middle range of presidents (17th-20th place) by historians and scholars.

        JFK held the opinion that no one who hadn’t been President was qualified to estimate their quality. And then there are cases like Nixon (many achievements paired with bad moral character) where placement becomes problematic.

  2. Gene Miller Says:

    Writing as an American progressive living in Victoria but still keenly connected to US political events, I offer these notes.

    First, Mr. MaWhinney, you wormed out of acknowledging the valid argument in Invisible Mikey’s comment. Your initial remarks [“He then decided to run to be the chief executive of the planet’s biggest income statement and balance sheet. Unless one has been in that role, even on a small scale, one just doesn’t know whether they’ll have the capability etc.”] make it transparently clear that you think an American president should come from a business CEO background and share the sensibilities and culture of such a person. Stop playing games, your political orientation is obvious.

    Second, Obama is doing an enormously skilful job of leadership and, under the circumstances, delivering extraordinary political and social accomplishments in the face of Republican and Tea Party opposition. I don’t for a minute accept the idea of Republican ideological intransigence being recast as some lack of leadership capacity on Obama’s part. Frankly, if the US could find a way to reduce the influence of aggressive (and regressive) Republican red meat values and culture, it would be a sign of better things to come.

    Third, let’s give history some time to digest Obama’s accomplishments and failings, while bearing in mind that under his leadership the US has restored all the jobs lost in the recession, has a wildly popular Affordable Care Act, and may before the end of Obama’s term achieve limited but critical policy leadership in the effort to slow global warming.

    Gene Miller

    • Hi Gene,

      No need to call me Mr. Mawhinney (sp) as you’ve met me twice and call me Mark in the non-virtual world.

      I only came across this reply tonight on my BlackBerry WordPress application, otherwise I would have responded sooner.

      I often chuckle at some people’s use of the moniker “progressive”. How do you define “progressive”?

      In terms of US party politics your tome seems to assume that if I was an American I’d be a Republican. That is a big leap to say the least.

      One of the things I’ve learned about party politics in my country is that those whose political and policy perspectives I respect and listen to the most tend to not be based on blinded party ideology but what is best for my country, province or city at any given point in time.

      One very good US friend whom I have known from the early 1990’s has voted about equally for Democrats and Republicans – that and the fact that he has actually done something for his country (like employed more than 700 people in the private sector and served his country for over two decades in the US Air Force) – makes me stand up and listen to his perspectives.

      Now in terms of the Obama presidency, I agree that history will write his tale. In fact I am reading Condoleeza Rice’s book “No Higher Honor” and she says, “Today’s headlines and historical judgement are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not dothe hard work of securing the latter.” I agree!

      Oh by the way, your candidate for mayor in your adopted city is referring to herself as a CEO. Funny that!

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