Amateur hour at the White House

Now and then we get a perfect microcosm of the president’s ineptness. On foreign policy it’s Egypt and on domestic policy it’s the student loan debacle.

President Obama
President Obama speaks during a press conference. (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)

On Egypt, Foreign Policy reports: “Washington’s exhaustive attempts to be viewed as a neutral player in Egypt’s coup are unraveling as pro and anti-Muslim Brotherhood forces latch onto any evidence that America is against them.” Well, they both are right, I suppose. A policy in which neither side believes the U.S. is being constructive and in which it is impossible to tell what our policy is pretty much defines failure.

The domestic counterpart is the student loan mess. House Republicans agreed with the president’s compromise plan on the expiration of the student loan discount. But Senate Dems are at each other’s throats, a clear sign the president didn’t get support for his compromise before releasing it. The Hill reports:

Liberal firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) blasted a fellow Democratic senator Tuesday as a dispute over student loan rates escalated divisions within  the party.

The clash, which is highly unusual among party colleagues in the upper chamber, came at a private caucus meeting about a subject that is helping  Republicans land blows against their Democratic opponents.

“Elizabeth came out very strong against Manchin,” said a Democratic senator who requested anonymity to discuss the exchange. “She said, ‘They’re already making money off the backs of students, and this adds another $1 billion.’ “

The rival messages appeared to exasperate Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the Senate’s Democratic messaging chief, who engaged in an animated conversation with Sens. Joe Manchin, Tom Carper and Angus King before they met with reporters. House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) had a nice soft ball over the plate which he casually hit over the fence in a written statement:

Republicans acted to protect students from higher interest rates and make college more affordable, yet Senate Democratic leaders let student loan interest rates double without passing any legislation to address the issue.  While the House-passed bill mirrors what the president has proposed, Senate Democratic leaders seem content
to leave students and their families with higher borrowing costs and more student debt, which is shameful and unacceptable.

In each case you could make an argument for either side (lock in lower student loan rates or let them go up; back the Egyptian military or cut them off for staging a coup), but the White House doesn’t explain itself, implement its policies (if it has any) or work with Congress. The result is disarray and inaction.

Liberal pundits can blame GOP intransigence for all ills inside the Beltway, but in fact nothing so fouls up the domestic agenda and our foreign policy as an inattentive and inept White House.

Is there any reason why opponents of Obamacare smell blood in the water? It is more than simply the individual mandate and the lawlessness and unintended consequences that flow from delaying it. There is a well-grounded fear that the White House really isn’t capable of doing the simple things, let alone something as unwieldy and ill-conceived as Obamacare.

 

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.
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Jennifer Rubin | July 10, 2013