POTUS Analyzed It

by Joshua H. Liberatore

As if to confront the early criticism that plagued POTUS’s management style from the beginning – that he wasn’t well informed, that he wasn’t curious about the details of policymaking, that he was overly idealistic, that he delegated excessively – POTUS has spent a fair amount of time illustrating his own powers of analysis and problem-solving. As the final fortnight of his administration approaches, a topical survey of some of POTUS’s favorite issues seems in order.In the pre-surge days, POTUS faced nearly constant pressure to answer for a failing war in Iraq and defend his decision to engage a two-front war against a diffuse international organization of criminals. Remember the Iraq Study Group and the Baker-Hamilton report?

I do know that we have not succeeded as fast as we wanted to succeed. I do understand that progress is not as rapid as I had hoped. And therefore, it makes sense to analyze the situation and to devise a set of tactics and strategies to achieve the objective that I have stated. (December 7, 2006)

On the potential threat of North Korean missile deployment:

I spoke with Secretary Rumsfeld yesterday. He called me right after the launch, and he said they had preliminary information that they were going to analyze about the trajectory of the larger rocket. The other five rockets that were fired, the scuds, were – their performance was pretty predictable. It’s kind of a routine weapon that some of these nations have. (July 5, 2006)

In contrast, on the strengths of the National Intelligence Estimate, which confirmed that Iraq had suspended its development of weapons of mass destruction in 2003 and that Iran had shuttered its program as well:

Why would you take time to analyze new information? One, you want to make sure it’s not disinformation. You want to make sure the piece of intelligence you have is real. And secondly, they want to make sure they understand the intelligence they gathered. If they think it’s real, then what does it mean? And it wasn’t until last week that I was briefed on the NIE that is now public. (December 4, 2007)

On preparing our children with the skill sets necessary for the demands of the 21st century:

Step five is – on the accountability system is what we call disaggregate results. Do you realize in the old accountability systems, they didn’t bother to look at the African American kids stand-alone? They just kind of looked at everybody and assumed everybody was doing good. That is not good enough for the future of this country. If we expect every child to learn, we got to measure every child and analyze whether or not those children are learning. (January 11, 2006)

So I set up – recognizing that we need to do better in math and in science, I set up what’s called a national math panel. It’s a way to analyze – we got experts coming together, and they’re going to analyze the best teaching methodology for math, the best curriculum for math. We did the same thing for reading, by the way. We set up a group of experts on reading. And they helped States and local districts understand what works, how best to make sure every child can read. And it’s working. I just told you; it’s working because we’re measuring. (April 19, 2006)

On POTUS’s method of preparation for Supreme Court nominations:

Of course, I fully recognize it’s my responsibility to come up with a nominee, and I intend to do so in a – you know, in a period of time that will give me time to fully analyze the different candidates and speak to them. I’m not exactly sure when that process will begin, in terms of the interviews. And probably if I knew, I wouldn’t tell you. (July 13, 2005)

On the reasonability of outsourcing U.S. port security to foreign countries, in this case the controversial Dubai Ports World contract that raised some eyebrows in the aftermath of September 11th:

There is a process in place where we analyze – where the Government analyzes many, many business transactions to make sure they meet national security concerns. And I’m sure if you-careful review, this process yielded a result that said, yes, a deal should go forward. (February 21, 2006)

On protecting the nation from the perils of avian flu:

The reporting needs to be not only on the birds that have fallen ill but also on tracing the capacity of the virus to go from bird to person to person. That’s when it gets dangerous, when it goes bird-person-person. And we need to know on a real-time basis, as quickly as possible, the facts, so that the scientific community, the world scientific community can analyze the facts and begin to deal with it. (October 4, 2005)

On the efficacy of relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina:

And I know there’s been a lot of second-guessing. I can assure you, I’m not interested in that. What I’m interested in is solving problems. And there will be time to take a step back and to take a sober look at what went right and what didn’t go right. There’s a lot of information floating around that will be analyzed in an objective way, and that’s important. And it’s important for the people of this country to understand that all of us want to learn lessons. If there were to be a biological attack of some kind, we’ve got to make sure we understand the lessons learned, to be able to deal with catastrophe. (September 13, 2005)

We have taken a look at FEMA. We’ve made decisions inside of FEMA. We’re continuing to take a look at FEMA to make sure FEMA is capable of dealing with an emergency of this size. And so there’s a lot of analysis going on, not only to the response in the immediacy of the hurricane but continuing to analyze to make sure our response is a wise response. (October 4, 2005)

On maintaining budgetary restraint through the presidential veto:

And so one way to remedy that is to give the President the capacity to analyze the appropriations process, to remove – approve spending that is necessary, red-line spending that is not, and send back the wasteful and unnecessary spending to Congress for an up-or-down vote. That’s how we define line-item veto. (October 11, 2006)

On the pace of political progress in Iraq:

The answer is, as to when we’ll be able to stand up Iraqis and stand down, when we’ll be able to analyze the situation, depends upon how these people react; how they react to pressure; how they react to forming their Government. This is a brand new democracy. And the problem with the war we have is it requires a certain degree of patience in order to succeed. And we have to be patient here, as this new democracy begins to flourish and has to deal with people like Zarqawi who is trying to stop their advance. (June 9, 2006)

On the promise of much-needed health care reform:

When I first came to Washington, I said, “Well, maybe this isn’t the proper Federal role; we’ll let the States handle it.” And then when I began to analyze the cost to the Federal Government of these junk lawsuits, I determined it was a Federal role to do something about them. I mean, after all, we’re a huge health care provider; we have Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, veterans’ health care. Yet many of the doctors who we hire to provide services practice defensive medicine, so that if they get sued they got a case in the courthouse that can defend them. These junk lawsuits are running up the cost of medicine for you, and they’re running up the cost of medicine for the Federal Government, which is you. (October 31, 2007)

It makes no sense. Somebody gets hurt, there ought to be one exam, not two. The whole purpose is to analyze somebody to make sure that they get that which they’re entitled to as quickly as possible, without confusion. (November 8, 2007)

On the necessity of asserting executive power in legal debates over controversial terrorist surveillance programs:

And I don’t view it as a contest with the legislative branch. Maybe they view it as a contest with the executive; I just don’t. I view it-I view the decisions I’ve made, particularly when it comes to national security, as necessary decisions to protect the American people. That’s how – that’s the lens on which I analyze things, Jonathan [Peterson, Los Angeles Times]. And I understand we’re at war with an enemy that wants to hit us again. Osama bin Laden made that clear the other day, and I take his words very seriously. (January 26, 2006)

On his recent activism to save the free market system:

And so I analyzed that and decided I didn’t want to be the President during a depression greater than the Great Depression, or the beginning of a depression greater than the Great Depression. So we moved, and moved hard. (December 18, 2008)

On the legacy of POTUS’s achievements measured in the long view:

So there’s been a lot of accomplishment. But the true history of any administration is not going to be written until long after the person is gone. It’s just impossible for short-term history to accurately reflect what has taken place. Most historians, you know, probably had a political preference, and so their view isn’t exactly objective – most short-term historians. And it’s going to take a while for people to analyze mine or any other of my predecessors until down the road when they’re able to take – watch the long march of history and determine whether or not the decisions made during the 8 years I was President have affected history in a positive way. (December 20, 2006)

Sometimes, of course, conventional analysis was not sufficient for the most perplexing issues facing American society. When it came to evaluating the effectiveness of various Federal programs, POTUS had to try something more robust:

I’ll give you one example of what we’re talking about. I’ll give you two examples – one example of money poorly spent, and one example of money well-spent, as a part of this management initiative – the analyzation as to whether or not the programs are actually delivering results we want. (February 8, 2006)

So, in the full humility of this “short-term historian,” I offer a mere sample of POTUS’s analytical record. It will be years before we can undertake a full accounting of its results, but for now, we can rest assured that, as POTUS himself reminded us, “there’s a lot of analysis going on,” right up to the end.

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