Daniel W. Drezner

What Noam Scheiber said

I read with great interest the Wall Street Journal story entitled "A President as Micromanager" about Barack Obama’s decision-making style — and had the exact same reaction as Noam Scheiber:  The big problem is that the piece conflates two very different things: One is micromanaging, which involves making decisions that are well below your pay-grade. The other ...

I read with great interest the Wall Street Journal story entitled "A President as Micromanager" about Barack Obama’s decision-making style — and had the exact same reaction as Noam Scheiber

The big problem is that the piece conflates two very different things: One is micromanaging, which involves making decisions that are well below your pay-grade. The other is wanting detailed information on which to base decisions that are at precisely your pay grade. The Journal story presents lots of evidence for the latter; zero evidence for the former….

If I had to guess, I’d say what happened is that the Journal found itself with a nice story about the way Obama makes decisions, but that it seemed too positive. As the piece itself notes: "Unavoidably, the accounts all come from people who admire Mr. Obama, not from his critics, who aren’t privy to such sessions." The "micromanager" frame was presumably added somewhere along the way to correct for this problem and make the piece seem more even-handed.

Indeed.  For all the puff pieces on Obama’s management style, this article suffers from the reverse problem — it tries to paint a negative frame and doesn’t succeed because of the lack of evidence.  Instead, the Obama in the WSJ story is someone who is intellectually curious, eager for data (which, as Scheiber points out, is distinct from micromanaging) and naturally contrarian. 

In other words, pretty much the opposite of the last person to occupy the Oval Office.  Which is fine with me. 

 Twitter: @dandrezner

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