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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House by Edward Klein

Published in May of 2012 by Regnery Publishing

Edward Klein's The Amateur is reminiscent of the late Andrew Breitbart's vetting of the Barack Obama for the 2012 election. It is a job that many believe should have been done in 2008 but some in the media are finally getting around to it for the 2012 re-election effort. The title of the book comes from an argument between Bill and Hillary Clinton that happened in front of guests at their home in New York in August of 2011. Bill was encouraging Hillary to run for president against Barack Obama because, even after having been in office for 2 and a half years, Bill felt that Obama was still "an amateur."

Klein does not wander off into the fringes of this effort to vet the President. There is no "birther" talk or any of that. Instead, Klein interviews nearly 200 people that Barack Obama has worked with over the years. There are interviews with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an historian that was invited to a special White House dinner for historians, insiders with the Kennedy family, White House insiders that witnessed the power struggle between Rahm Emanuel and Valarie Jarrett, members of the Chicago media scene and members of the Oprah camp who feel that she has been disrespected by the President and his staff.

Some of these interviews and clearly the normal "dirty laundry" type stuff that every administration generates due to bruised egos and the like. But, there is a clear pattern of Obama's rank amateurism as a politician. He disdains the give and take of day-to-day politics and does not seem to understand that just because he decrees something should be done does not mean it will be done (the Middle East peace deal he demanded be agreed to comes to mind as a great example). Klein uncovers multiple stories of briefings that feature the President doing most of the talking and his experts doing most of the listening. My favorite story along this line is the President's staff serving Prime Minister Netanyahu and his advisers non-kosher food after they had had a difficult meeting. That was either profoundly ignorant or childish.
President Obama speaking to a joint session of Congress in 2009.

More importantly, he does not seem to understand the simple fact that you remember your friends in politics for the simple fact that they may be useful to you again in the future. Obama disses the Kennedy clan multiple times and  he over and over again he fails to work with Congress to get anything done. LBJ was an arm-twister. Reagan and Clinton charmed and convinced their rivals to agree. Obama's team seems to miss the entire concept of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."  Michelle blows off Oprah's efforts to promote her anti-childhood obesity campaign (Michelle rejects free, friendly publicity because it would help Oprah's ratings. Well, duh.) and her efforts to re-decorate the Lincoln bedroom (I didn't have a problem with that - why would you let Oprah do that?).

Throw in the President's solid record of ignoring advice from groups like the National Black Chamber of Commerce and you have a picture of a man who really does act like an amateur - he seems to not even know enough to know that he needs to learn more all of the time to do his job properly. Klein's book is very readable, well-researched and disconcerting.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: The Amateur

Reviewed on June 5, 2012.

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