UPDATED: The Incompetent Branch

How in the world did we go from the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression to a crisis that is “not as bad as we think”?  Victor Davis Hanson attempts to make sense of it all here (via Instapundit, where Prof. Reynolds has his own theories).  I think what’s going on is much simpler.

Everybody makes mistakes, but this White House bunch is making avoidable ones.  Many of them are simple ones and range from the dumb to the petty, but seen in the context of Executive Power they attain a much bigger resonance.  Broken promises and Obama’s own bad executive habits add to the effect, and the result is that the President looks smaller, a perception that seems to be catching on.  One can’t help but to think “so many misfires in such a short period of time!  So many stumbles!  They don’t know what they’re doing.”

And the hits keep on coming; and without a doubt there will be many more to come.  The administration’s sudden change of tone on greed, after weeks of chastising Wall Street executives, is the latest example.  It may be a tiny little instance – just a turn of phrase – at a larger event.  But it’s also an instance of the administration contradicting itself on a point that it keeps drilling into our heads almost daily: that some Americans have made too much money.  Official contradictions may have worked in Orwell’s Oceania, but there is no Ministry of Truth around here, no Room 101, as much as the MSM would like our living rooms to be a softer version of it.  Here and now, these contradictions advance no agenda.  They only make Mr. Obama look clueless.

Obama’s own idol, Honest Abe, once said that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.  And he was right.  But I just hope the administration is not trying to fool itself into collectively thinking that they are getting the hang of this “Executive Branch thing”, because 52 days in it is clear that they aren’t.  A quiet staff shake-up would be a welcome move.  Not that we weren’t warned this White House’s organizational approach meant trouble:

It is rumored that as many as 160 people will be in the West Wing under Mr. Obama. Under President George W. Bush there were about 60…All of this matters because management structure affects decision-making and determines the range and quality of voices the president hears. That impacts policy outcomes.


UPDATE: More Orwellian attempts, this time from Joe Biden.  But he’s more Dr. Strangelove than 1984:  the guy’s a riot, but the hilarity ensues in the face of potential catastrophe.