The story is called “The Competitor in Chief — Obama Plays To Win, In Politics and Everything Else.” It is devastating.
With such a title, and from such a friendly organ, at first I thought Jodi Kantor’s piece would be a collection of Obama’s greatest political wins: His rapid rise in Illinois, his win over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries, the passage of health care, and so on.
But the NYT piece is not about any of that. Rather, it is a deep look into the two outstanding flaws in Obama’s executive leadership:
1. How he vastly overrates his capabilities:
But even those loyal to Mr. Obama say that his quest for excellence can bleed into cockiness and that he tends to overestimate his capabilities. The cloistered nature of the White House amplifies those tendencies, said Matthew Dowd, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, adding that the same thing happened to his former boss. “There’s a reinforcing quality,” he said, a tendency for presidents to think, I’m the best at this.
2. How he spends extraordinary amounts of time and energy to compete in — trivialities.
For someone dealing with the world’s weightiest matters, Mr. Obama spends surprising energy perfecting even less consequential pursuits. He has played golf 104 times since becoming president, according to Mark Knoller of CBS News, who monitors his outings, and he asks superior players for tips that have helped lower his scores. He decompresses with card games on Air Force One, but players who do not concentrate risk a reprimand (“You’re not playing, you’re just gambling,” he once told Arun Chaudhary, his former videographer).
His idea of birthday relaxation is competing in an Olympic-style athletic tournament with friends, keeping close score. The 2009 version ended with a bowling event. Guess who won, despite his history of embarrassingly low scores? The president, it turned out, had been practicing in the White House alley.
Kantor’s piece is full of examples of Obama’s odd need to dominate his peers in everything from bowling, cards, golf, basketball, and golf (104 times in his presidency). Bear in mind, Obama doesn’t just robustly compete. The leader of the free world spends many hours practicing these trivial pursuits behind the scenes.
There's more... and it's pretty devastating.
The hope is that these kinds of assessments are accurate and effective in educating the voter.
Yes... I know... big hope.