Klein's book begins with a talisman-like quote uttered by Barack Obama when his recently appointed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner tried to boost Obama's ego by telling him, "Your legacy is going to be preventing the second Great Depression." To which Barack Obama responded, "That's not enough for me."
As all of America knows by now, Obama has aggressively sought to "fundamentally transform" America -- one of the few promises he has kept from the days of 2008. Five trillion dollars of borrowing, ObamaCare passed over the objections of the majority of Americans through legislative legerdemain and special deals made with resistant politicians, failed stimulus, green programs failing left and right as taxpayers are left holding the bag, a recovery that is the most anemic on record, an America that has been sundered by the man who promises to unite us, America weaker abroad and at home -- yes, America has been fundamentally transformed. Mission Accomplished.
But how and why did Obama succeed in such a catastrophic way? That is the question that Klein successfully answers in his extremely readable and enjoyable book, with enough spicy details to satisfy the craving of anyone interested in how President Obama and those closest to him have driven us to the condition we find ourselves in as we approach November.
One of the motifs that runs throughout the book is Barack Obama's sheer level of incompetency. He has the fatal conceit of many politicians: an overweening ego. That may be a prerequisite for politicians and leaders, but when it is unleavened by a willingness to consider the views of others, it becomes a fatal conceit. And Obama has that trait in abundance.
Stories tumble out that reveal a man who believes he is all but omniscient -- unwilling to give any credence to the views of others (especially but not limited to those across the aisle). Experts in management are interviewed who point out that he lacks essential qualities of leadership. Indeed, the book gets its title from an outburst from Bill Clinton, who was trying to encourage Hillary to take on Obama in the Democratic primary of 2012:
Obama doesn't know how to be president. He doesn't know how the world works. He's incompetent. He's...he's...Barack Obama's an amateur.
But Klein does not rest there. He delves into associates from Obama's career in Cook County politics, his stint as a state senator, and his rise to the United States Senate. There is a common pattern: Obama likes to campaign, but once he is elected and actually starts working, his interest flags, and he starts looking for the next "big thing" -- electorally speaking. He had few if any accomplishments or professional standing in any of his previous positions. Even when he served as a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, he avoided any encounters with other faculty who enjoyed discussing the law. His reluctance to engage them is revealing in and of itself, suggesting he had a reason for his lack of confidence.