I have followed the Trayvor Martin/George Zimmerman issue only slightly, which is to say that I have as little information about the facts of the case as do 99% of other commenters–including, apparently, the President.
After it has been alleged that there may be exculpatory evidence that would support Mr. Zimmerman’s version of the events, Glenn Reynolds voiced concurrence with a reader’s comment regarding the oddity of the President’s willingness to take sides in an ongoing investigation of a local matter. The reader believes that the President got involved in the case, as well as in other controversial issues, because of bad poll numbers:
IMHO, what’s going in in the WH these days is really, really bad poll numbers. How else can one explain an investment in clearly polarizing issues like picking a fight with both the church and Rush Limbaugh, race-baiting with Trayvon, a flirtation with an advocacy of gay marriage, Stalin-esque striking down of voter ID laws, et. Al. The softness in numbers with the black population must really be stark, otherwise, why bring this stuff up? There’s no upside with independent voters with any of these issues.
Let me suggest another, simpler cause: the President has bad instincts.
A couple weeks ago I had lunch with a Republican friend who shared with me his contempt for Sarah Palin in 2008. Let’s discuss Governor Palin another time, but I bring this up because I rebutted with the fact that I like her because I like her instincts. Instincts are those things that we are programmed by experience to do automatically in the face of incomplete information. The one quality I absolutely want to see in a leader at any level is good instincts, because often, there just isn’t time to be 100% sure of anything. As Governmor, Ms. Palin demonstrated a history of trusting indivduals Alaskans over the entrenched interests of big oil and big government. I happen to share those same biases, so I trust her instincts.
So what do we know of President Obama’s instincts. In the absence of complete knowledge, apparently he reflexively views typical white people, particularly the police, as bitter clingers to antiquated doctrines. Meanwhile, he appears to be solicitous towards adversaries and competitors, even at the expense of friends and while giving short shrift to long-time allies.
There is a name for this kind of instinct: it is called bad judgment. We see it recently when the Administration supports the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars on projects with little potential for return on investment without government intervention, but who denies approval for projects that cost the taxpayer nothing because investors are glad to bring their own money to the table. I could go on, but there are numerous other examples of where the President’s choice has been magnificently wrong.
The President’s acoyltes attribute the shortcomings of his actions to bad luck, incomplete knowledge, and political opposition, but maybe the truth is that he is wrong far more often than he is right and that the President’s frequent miscues are not part of a political plan, but are simply the result of the President’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad instincts.