I am certainly not a presidential historian but Obama is likely to be noteworthy as one of the most – if not the most – disengaged president in history. He was chided for playing golf, hosting a private Stevie Wonder concern in the White House and leaving for a trip during the Libyan revolt and the Japanese earthquake. One wonders about the quality of his advisors or if he is even heeding advice. Of course his advisors are arguably among the worse who have occupied those positions. Austan Goolsbee, Valarie Jarrett, Hilliary Clinton, Kathleen Sebelius, Janet Napolitano and Stephan Chu are all less able than their predecessors in the prior administration. Perhaps only Susan Rice is up to the task. Obama was also roundly chided on the talk shows for filing out an NCAA bracket as well. Personally, if he played golf, hosted a concert and filed out a bracket as respites for working hard no one would take him to task. But no one could accuse this president for working hard. Its more like hardly working. It is hard to find even one example of presidential leadership. Even the health care bill is attributed to Henry Waxman. There was even fodder for criticism in his NCAA brackets – although this is a point missed by the talk show hosts. Obama always picked the higher seeds! Who does that? Obama is supposed to be an expert on basketball, yet all of us know that there are always spectacular upsets during the tournament. In fact, only in 2008 did all first seeds make it to the men’s final four. Yet this is the second year that Obama has predicted no upsets. It is as if the president did not want to get fan bases mad. In a way this is also indicative of his lack of leadership.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com