When You’ve Lost Maureen Dowd And Frank Rich……….
As if the unemployment situation, the flailing economy, and his declining job approval numbers weren’t enough, President Obama is now waking up in the morning to find that the same liberal pundits who were praising him four years ago are beginning to wonder if they didn’t make a huge mistake.
First, on Thursday night, Frank Rich, who’s defended Obama in the pages of The New York Times and The New Yorker, argued that Barack Obama’s Presidency has been a rhetorical and substantive failure:
In the same interview, Rich said that the speech timing dispute with the House of Representatives revealed the weaknesses of the Obama Administration:
Then, today, Maureen Dowd came about as close as one can to saying she’s given up on Obama without actually using the words:
ONE day during the 2008 campaign, as Barack Obama read the foreboding news of the mounting economic and military catastrophes that W. was bequeathing his successor, he dryly remarked to aides: “Maybe I should throw the game.”
On the razor’s edge of another recession; blocked at every turn by Republicans determined to slice him up at any cost; starting an unexpectedly daunting re-election bid; and puzzling over how to make a prime-time speech about infrastructure and payroll taxes soar, maybe President Obama is wishing that he had thrown the game.
The leader who was once a luminescent, inspirational force is now just a guy in a really bad spot.
Obama is still suffering from the Speech Illusion, the idea that he can come down from the mountain, read from a Teleprompter, cast a magic spell with his words and climb back up the mountain, while we scurry around and do what he proclaimed.
The days of spinning illusions in a Greek temple in a football stadium are done. The One is dancing on the edge of one term.
The White House team is flailing — reacting, regrouping, retrenching. It’s repugnant.
After pushing and shoving and caving to get on TV, the president’s advisers immediately began warning that the long-yearned-for jobs speech wasn’t going to be that awe-inspiring.
“The issue isn’t the size or the newness of the ideas,” one said. “It’s less the substance than how he says it, whether he seizes the moment.”
The arc of justice is stuck at the top of a mountain. Maybe Obama was not even the person he was waiting for.
Ouch, that’s gonna leave a mark.
The Telegraph’s U.S. Editor Toby Harnden makes a similar point to Dowd in his piece today as he points out the extent to which Obama as President is so very different from Obama the 2008 candidate of “Hope and Change” and the extent to which it has become clear that the 2012 re-elect will be built largely around the idea of scaring the crap out of people:
It fits with the campaign strategy Obama appears to have decided on – portray Republican leaders as prisoners of the racist, Right-wing nutters from the Tea Party. They’re to blame, the argument goes, for the gridlock in Washington because of their intransigence in the face of nice, reasonable Obama.
The problem is that every smear and insult possible was thrown at the Tea Party in last year’s mid-term elections but the grassroots movement still drove an historic Republican victory. It is also an obvious attempt to change the subject, moving discussion away from the economy by fixating on alleged racism or religious fundamentalism on the Right.
Such a strategy also sits uneasily with the one that brought Obama victory in 2008. It highlights his broken promise to usher in a new era of bipartisanship by fixing a government that was broken. Then, Obama was an outsider running against Washington.
Now, he intends to be an insider trying to be an outsider running against Congress, even though Democrats controlled both houses of it until last year and are still the majority in the Senate.
Obama seems to intend to urge Americans that he be allowed to stay in the White House to prevent Republican extremists taking over the entire government. The candidate of hope and change in 2008 is fast becoming the candidate of fear and the status quo this time around.
Will his supporters take notice? Some of them, it seems, already have and while it may be premature to say that this signals the media turning on the President, it seems rather obvious that we’re close to that point. Every ultimately doomed Presidency faces a moment like this. For Jimmy Carter it was the triple impact of the hostage crisis, the failed rescue mission, and an economy that seemed to be spiraling out of control. For George H.W. Bush, it was was the flagging economy and the iconic moment when he didn’t even seem to recognize how a supermarket checkout line worked. This moment may be fast approaching for Barack Obama. Thursday’s speech isn’t going to result in any new “jobs legislation” (of course, legislation doesn’t create jobs but that’s another story) but it’s absolutely crucial for re-energizing his base and giving people at least some reason to re-elect him in a year. That’s what it was all about from the beginning, of course, which is why he tried to play politics with it before getting burned by the Speaker of the House.
Barack Obama may well be re-elected in 2012, that’s not something I’m willing to bet against just yet. If he does it, though, it won’t be on his record, it won’t be because of the “hope” and “change” he brought America. It will be because he and his party demonized the opposition. That’s not very much to build a legacy on.