Liberal Columnist Slams Obama for Hubris

February 6, 2012

Liberal Bloomberg columnist Albert R. Hunt has a warning for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign: Don’t get too cocky.

In his column "Team Obama shows dangerous penchant for hubris," Hunt wrote that the president is "headed for political turbulence" in the general election, and his administration’s arrogance and insular mentality may be Obama’s undoing if he’s not careful.

From Bloomberg:

The White House victory lap after a small set-to last month between the president and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer also is revealing. While greeting Obama on airport tarmac in Tucson, the governor initiated an exchange on immigration. That issue is likely to comedown to the president’s advantage in the November election, and Brewer is an inconsequential figure. The president and his team were bragging about slam-dunking a peripheral bore.

Over the last couple of months, Obama hasn’t been held to the same standard as the Republicans. That’s not because of any bias or media love affair with the president; it’s because his foes have provided so much ammunition about each other. That’s also part of the cycle, not likely to last.

Another illustration of presidential hubris involved the Bush family. The White House put out a picture of a private meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 27 that included former President George H.W. Bush and his son, Jeb, the former governor of Florida.

The Bushes were in town for the annual black tie dinner the next night at the Alfalfa Club, a gathering of business and political elites. The two featured speakers, both intended to be brief and humorous, were Obama and Jeb Bush. The president spoke to good reviews. He left before Bush spoke.

Obama hates such dinners. Some of his aides, in particular his political adviser David Plouffe, urged him not to spend an evening mingling with the 1 percent. Yet he chose to go, and attendees said it was the first time they could recall a speaker leaving before the other side had its fun. In addition, Obama’s 87-year-old predecessor was present....

The most dangerous sign of arrogance is Team Obama’s insularity. It’s an exclusive club, with no room for outsiders. Inside the White House, that dynamic is personified by Valerie Jarrett, the president and first lady’s longtime confidante, who conducts the loyalty litmus tests.

"She’s the wagon master," says a top Democratic political operative. "If there’s trouble, Valerie circles the wagons tighter."

The same generally applies to the political team. Conversations last week with five of the smartest and most experienced Democratic political strategists -- none associated with the Obama campaign -- yielded the same bottom line: They’re only consulted occasionally and the outreach is pro forma. If it’s a runaway election, that approach will work out fine for the White House; if it gets tight, Obama may need some other counsel.