Is Obama Really So Incompetent, or is the Federal Government Growing Too Quickly to Manage?

Listening to the news, it’s hard not to reach the conclusion that the incompetence of the federal government is reaching new heights on an almost daily level. There is ample evidence that this is not just the +Democratic Party‘s problem. But whether it is more of a Democratic than #Republican issues is, of course, of importance.

While these peaks in incompetence are being reached in a Democratic administration, the administration of the preceding Republican, two-term President, George W. Bush (2001-2009), also reached remarkable levels of incompetence.

Obama is not the only one who has been incompetent when it comes to national security. Bush, at the beginning of his presidency, was not any better prepared: though often forgotten, Bush had already been president for nine months when 9/11 occurred. As even Bush supporters will have to agree, his administration had done absolutely nothing to track Osama Bin Laden’s intent to harm the homeland during those nine months.

Whatever one may think about the Bush administration’s motivations for the subsequent Iraq war, going to war without preparation can only be viewed as colossal incompetence. General Schwarzkopf, who brilliantly staged the military campaign against Saddam Hussein’s forces, was smart enough to retire right after Baghdad was “liberated.” Nobody has ever asked why such a brilliant military leader would enter retirement at the height of his professional career.

The answer, of course, was that Schwarzkopf knew that General Eric Shinseki had been absolutely correct when warning that hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops would be required to secure a post-war Iraq. Bush did not listen to Shinseki, and Vice President Cheney dismissed Shinseki’s warnings by making fun of him. Shinseki resigned, and Schwarzkopf retired because he did not want to be associated with the subsequent failures in Iraq. And General Shinseki, who proved so correct on this point, later proved completely incompetent when appointed administrator of the Veterans Administration in the Obama administration.

So Obama is by no means the first among recent presidents to refuse to listen to his generals, though one has to give one credit to Bush: at least learned from his mistakes, and started to appreciate the military expertise required to make difficult decisions and, ultimately, rescued the Iraq intervention to a degree when he reversed course and ordered “the surge” that defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq.

But then came Hurricane Katrina! Any CEO of a private company, responsible for a management disaster of such dimensions, would have been shown the door. Yet in politics that does not happen (until, possibly, the next election).

The Obama administration very obviously represents a new peak in incompetence. Remember “Fast And Furious,” which was probably the administration’s first colossal blunder (to a degree still inherited from the Bush administration)? Almost nobody talks about it anymore because it has been surpassed by so many other scandals of incompetence: good examples are “Secret Service I” in Bogota, Columbia, and “Secret Service II,” when the personal security of the president was directly threatened by incompetence of the Secret Service.

And then there is “Bengasi,” the “IRS Scandal,” the “Veterans Administration Scandal;” and who, of course can forget the hapless introduction of Obamacare after years of preparation for this honorable cause. Add the budget deficit, the incompetent management of foreign policy, including the military and political disasters in Iraq and Syria, which demonstrate a shocking lack of foresight. Then there has been the complete chaos surrounding the expanding Ebola Virus.

One really has to wonder whether what we are witnessing in this onslaught of incompetence isn’t just a forebear of more to come, due to the fact that the federal bureaucracy has become too large to manage.

The question that needs to be answered, in other words, is whether the obvious breakdown in administrative competence is just the natural consequence of a growing federal government or a unique outlier, characteristic of an unusually incompetent administration and an unusually unqualified president.

There are arguments to be made for both: The unmanageability of the federal government is increasingly recognized by economists and the market place, probably best demonstrated by the recent spat of announced company splits. If companies are worth more in pieces, the market is telling us something.

The computer age has led to an almost mystical belief that the larger the better when it comes to corporate sizes – that larger corporations lead to maximum efficiency. Bu, as Obamacare so well demonstrated, computers do not always guarantee maximum efficiency and certainly not maximum satisfaction for the public. Airlines, after the big consolidation in the airline industry, may work more efficiently; but is there anybody who wouldn’t prefer the old way that airlines did business?

So one notices a rather frightening scenario developing in which as government continues to grow, the level of bureaucratic incompetence continues to grow in parallel. This frightening thought is only outweighed by the thought that perhaps Obama’s administration is so incompetent that his presidency represents an anomaly.

If, however, the problem is the growing size of the federal government, this problem would still be fixed by the downsizing of the government to restore a better level of administrative competence. But if Obama really is that bad, then what can we expect from the next two years?

A frightening thought!

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