“The Amateur” Chapters 16 – 17

Ed Klein, former Editor of Newsweek & former NY Times Magazine, Editor-in-Chief

Editor’s Note: If you look at the topics covered at the top of the page, you will see a section for Mr. Klein’s The Amateur. All the summarized chapters are available there.

Chapter 16

All in the Family

Grievances have been growing amongst the black population and the president but they were kept under wraps for a long time.

Obama’s rush-to-judgement firing of Shirley Sherrod based on a soundbite from a speech that made her sound like a racist when she was saying the exact opposite did not play well. Her husband was a significant player in the Civil Rights Movement making it a double whammy for the inept Obama.

The black elite quickly came to her defense and, as it turned out, not a single black person was consulted before her firing. They knew her and her character well and would have put the story to rest.

It took Obama a long time to finally call Sherrod and when he did, there was no apology. She declined his offer of a different job in the Agriculture department.

By the summer of 2011, the Congressional Black Caucus was openly warning Obama that black voters were frustrated by his unwillingness to address black joblessness. It’s as high as 40% in cities like Chicago and Detroit.

In August 2011, he did all his campaigning in white areas, ignoring the black areas, setting off a chorus of criticism. He told his critics to “take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes” and “stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying.” Maxine Waters responded by saying, “I’ve never owned a pair of bedroom slippers.”

Obama’s relationships with black businessmen was far worse. Harry C. Alford, CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, said they all just wanted a black president and didn’t pay enough attention to his views.

Alford said, “His view of business is that it should be a few major corporations which are totally unionized and working with the government, which should also be massive and reaching every level of American society, thus his fired Executive Order was the reinstatement of Project Labor Agreements in government contracting. PLAs give labor unions an exclusive in construction jobs-all participating firms must use union labor or, at least, pay union wages and abide by union rules. This, in effect, discriminates against blacks, Hispanics, and women per se, as trade unions deliberately under-employ them…

He is profoundly unpopular with black leaders who find him cold, distant, and an inauthentic “brother.”

Now black leaders are getting emails, phone calls and invites to the White House as the election draws near. In January 2012, he turned up at Harlem’s Apollo Theater where he broke into the opening of Al Green’s “Let’s stay together.” A month later, he hosted a tribute to the blues at the White House and sang again.

Part IV

The Obama Doctrine

The United States under Barack Obama is less assertive, less dominant, less power-minded, less focused on the American people’s particular interests, and less concerned about preserving U.S.freedom of action.

Chapter 17

The War on General Jones

The General’s wife called Obama’s inner circle “a bunch of Chicago thugs.”

General Jones was a four-star highly decorated general who served in combat and had a distinguished career. He became the first victim of the WH gossip campaign. The mongers said he was detached from his job and bicycled home for lunch and left work early.

He had to finally address the petty lies in the press.

He was criticized for delegating too much when he was team building. The turf wars with the aides, Axelrod, Emanuel, Jarrett and Gibbs made it impossible for him to do his job. They even blocked his access to the president.

This situation signaled to foreign policy experts that he did not have the president’s ear.

Worst of all is that Jones did not share Obama’s view of America as a less predominant power in a multipolar world. Jones is a Democrat but he is neither a hawk or a prophet of doom. He was a warrior-diplomat.

Jones calm, organized approach clashed with Obama’s frenetic, political environment.

When Zinni was asked to serve as Ambassador to Iraq, he was told he had to get going quickly to get all the necessary work done. He rushed to prepare for a week but heard nothing. He called Jones and was told they decided on Chris Hill – no one had even told him. Jones was mortified by the treatment of his friend and fellow marine, Zinni.

Despite Jones’ exceptional prestige, he was not allowed to pick his own staff and was rarely allowed to see the president alone. He was accompanied by a phalanx of aides who knew nothing about the matters on which they voiced their opinions. Obama talked and Jones listened or the aides talked and Jones listened.

Jones was largely ignored in favor of political hack Tom Donilon. Donilon frequently made disparaging remarks about commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan without even having visited either place and which was unacceptable to the General who holds himself to a higher level of behavior.

Emanuel protected Donilon and snubbed Jones. Joe Biden also protected Donilon because Donilon’s wife was chief of staff to Jill Biden.

Robert Gates agreed with Jones that Donilon had a poor record of working with the military. Jones left after 19 brutal months. Obama appointed Donilon as national security advisor because he was connected to the far left base of the Democratic Party.

There are five chapters left which I planned to finish tonight but tomorrow is another day.


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