Mickey Kaus writes:
Jay Cost: “Obama is just plain bad at politics” I think Cost’s on to something, though a) there are worse things than being bad at politics, even in a president; b) it doesn’t mean Obama won’t be reelected (or that I won’t vote for him); c) Cost’s examples aren’t wildly compelling. (Every president says a few dumb things, And let’s see if Obamacare gets repealed, now that Paul Ryan has said its basic structure is OK for seniors.)
Well, you don't have to be all that great at politics in an absolute sense, you just have to be better than the opposition, especially when the opposition keeps getting disqualified. Obama has contested seven elections in his career, from the election for Harvard Law Review supremo onward, one of which he lost badly (to Bobby Rush in 2000). In three of them, his chief opponents were driven off the ballot by, once, Obama contesting the opponents' signatures, and, twice, by seamy divorce records being opened. So, maybe that's proof of his political genius.
Cost would have been on stronger ground if he’d waited to hear Obama’s waste of a deficit speech; d) Cost doesn’t go into why Obama managed to get to the top of politics without being all that good at it. The answer is distressingly obvious: Obama’s the biggest affirmative action baby in history. When other pols are trying, failing, learning, while climbing up the middle rungs of the ladder, he got a pass; e) He’s the second president in a row to get a pass–George W. Bush, after all, didn’t exactly have to fight his way through a 64-team bracket. He was a legacy exception. And, come to think of it, he wasn’t that good at politics either. …
People should read the hagiographic The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama by David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker, and count the number of powerful people who told Remnick that the first time they met Obama, their reaction was: He should be President! Then compare this to Obama's actual record of accomplishment, as reported in The Bridge, such as all the brilliant legal articles he wrote that led to him being offered tenure by the U. of Chicago Law School, all the landmark cases he won as a discrimination lawyer, all the public school students whose test scores rose due to the $100,000,000 he handed out as Chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, all the jobs he helped people get as a community organizer, and so forth. (Remnick does devote pp. 164-169 to the asbestos Obama helped get partially removed.)