It is a good idea in judging a political leader to place yourself in their position. Imagine that you had run for president with throngs of enthusiastic followers worshipping your every word and gesture, with millions worldwide wearing t-shirts with your picture emblazoned on them, with nearly every journalist singing your praises, with the most renowned intellectuals testifying to your subtlety and brilliance, with rock stars declaring you “cool.” Imagine that virtually everyone you encountered was a sycophant, a flatterer, an adulator. You were head of a world-wide cult that deemed you a god. Almost the minute you were elevated as the leader of the world’s foremost nation, the most august of international juries awarded you the premier prize for international diplomacy. You had only to utter an ordinary phrase for the pundits to proclaim your genius, drop a self-deprecating comment for the intelligentsia to marvel at your sophistication, speak in the most empty slogans for the millions to draw inspiration. Just flash your smile and the females would swoon, or make a quip about a movie and the youth would count you hip. You were celebrated above all in the most enlightened places, on the campuses of the best universities, in the board rooms of the most advanced high tech firms, in the homes of the greatest of movie stars.

Are you quite sure, if you had been in that position, that you could have remained well-grounded, have an accurate sense of yourself and your merits, and been ready to make real decisions in the real world?

Who could have imagined that one so esteemed would have turned out as he did? This is no statesman. “Look at him; he is only a blunderer.” One need only have observed how this person and his vaunted team have performed since the onset of the Syrian “red line” fiasco to the current roll out of the Affordable Health Care Act to realize the degree of incompetence of this man, even if you should agree with his goals and objectives. What chief executive has ever in this period of time shown himself less able to manage his office or run his government? Certainly not James Buchanan, nor Warren G. Harding, nor Jimmy Carter. No one has muffed like this once-vaunted figure. And for the moralists among us, there is also the realization that the man only holds office today because of his deceptions.

A famous writer from Florence once distinguished among three different kinds of brains: one that understands by itself, another that discerns what others understand, the third that understands neither by itself or through others. The first would be best, the second would be sufficient, while the third would be useless. Worst of all is one who is deluded about the kind of brain he has. There is no doubt that our leader is convinced he belongs to the first category. He is reported to have said, “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” One who so misjudges his own merits will likely forfeit the possibility of taking advantage of the counsel of others. And just look at the quality of the counselors with whom the president has surrounded himself today. Is any of them counted a wise counselor, a serious thinker? Would that be Jay Carney? Dan Pfeiffer? And even if there were such persons, is the leader someone prepared to listen to advice? There is nothing in the course of events of the past few months to indicate that any effective system has been established, and little hope that one will be.

Articles by James Ceaser

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