Sunday, September 04, 2011


President Obama and the Peter Principle

by Larry Geller

There are numerous reasons for anyone (liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican) to be unhappy with President Obama’s performance.

How can this be? Why are Obama’s acceptance ratings plummeting?

Try this theory. Obama has reached his level of incompetence.

The Peter Principle (explained in a 1969 book The Peter Principle) states that "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence", meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently. Obama is there. And as we will see, he never promised us any more than he is capable of doing, so we can’t really hold it against him (or can we?).

He wouldn’t be the first world leader to be labeled incompetent, either. From the Wikipedia article linked above:

Although humorous, Peter's book contains many real-world examples and thought-provoking explanations of human behavior. For example, he pointed out that Adolf Hitler was a consummate and superb politician due especially to his charisma and oratorical skills but reached his "level of incompetence" as commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht because of the rigidity of his decision making (not allowing retreats when necessary according to the tactical situation).

As it turns out, Obama never promised us competence. Here’s the text of his oath of office, with emphasis added:

ROBERTS: Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?
OBAMA: I am.

ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama...
OBAMA: I, Barack...
ROBERTS: ... do solemnly swear...
OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...
ROBERTS: ... that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully...
OBAMA: ... that I will execute...
ROBERTS: ... faithfully the office of president of the United States...
OBAMA: ... the office of president of the United States faithfully...
ROBERTS: ... and will to the best of my ability...
OBAMA: ... and will to the best of my ability...
ROBERTS: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
OBAMA: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
ROBERTS: So help you God?
OBAMA: So help me God.
ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.

So you see, he only promised to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution to the best of his ability.

Sadly, he’s doing just that.


Good examination and question. Even prior to BO I had discussions with other as to whether the office of President was a doable job by anybody and if it was perhaps being distorted by interested forces to be made specifically undoable. The last guy who broke the mold and the confines successfully was FDR. Bobby Kennedy was on track for that sort of experience, but he and his older brother of course didn't survive long enough. But the Peter Principle is a better theory than the fanboys who think O is "ropa-doping" or a raging centrist or some kind of chess playing genius. Suggest also that surrounding one's self with bankers and industry insiders is not the best way to conduct the people's business or maintain the public interest.

He might also be a centrist (or worse). I like what you said just at the end. He really isn't conducting the people's business. It seems he just set aside ozone regulations, which will kill people and cost jobs.

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