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The Amateur In Chief
on 7 September 2012
President Obama has been one of the most controversial political figures in American history. Too many of his proponents and detractors have ascribed this polarization to several salient facts about his political inclinations or to the particulars of his biography: his far-left ideology, his race, his family background. However, to many fair-minded people and me one thing about him stood out above everything else: his total lack of experience. In order to help elect the first black president the mainstream media had completely abdicated any pretense of impartiality and had foregone any attempts to scrutinize his career and background. He was portrayed as a transformative figure for whom the ordinary laws of politics and career progress don't apply.
In "The Amateur," the bestselling author Edward Klein gives an unparalleled insight into the full extent of Obama's massive incompetence. The book is based on literally hundreds of interviews conducted over the course of a year. Many of the people interviewed, such as Jeremiah Wright, were or are still very close to Obama and his inner circle, and have had an unprecedented access to the President at various stages of his life and career. The sum total of their observations and opinions paints a very unflattering picture. After reading this book I am even more appalled by Obama's rank amateurism. Furthermore, unlike some of his predecessors who were able to "grow in the job," Obama's narcissism prevents him from learning from his mistakes and adapting to a more pragmatic approach to the job. Granted, many of the people interviewed had their own axes to grind as they've fallen out of grace with Obama, but even with that caveat it is clear that he is not, and never has been, the right person for this job.
For the most part the book is immensely readable and easy to follow. Some of the latter chapters, though, deal with the more abstract policy issues or with special interest topics that may not be as persuasive as the earlier chapters. One other thing that I didn't like about this book is that it still managed to leave the myth of Obama as a very smart guy intact. From everything that I've read in his biography it is clear that Obama's intellectual and educational pedigree is just another carefully cultivated political prop that doesn't have much basis in reality. In fact, it is this lack of true intellectualism and knowledge about the world that can to a large extent be blamed for Obama's amateurism. A book about this ought to be written, and I hope someone will undertake this task before too long.
As most polemical books of this nature "The Amateur" is best read at the time of its publication. Right now we are just two months away from the 2012 presidential elections, and this book can serve as a powerful reminder of why it's so important to vote for the right kind of person for that all-too-important job. This book will probably not change many minds, which doesn't make it any less important or relevant for the shaping of the public opinion during this political season.