George Will: Obama Unfairly Blamed, Serves Him Right

George Will says that President Obama is “being unfairly blamed” for the so-far-anemic response to the Gulf oil spill but “it sort serves him right.”

Media Matters posts the above video without comment.

Steve Benen is “mystified.”

At this point, the discourse seems to boil down to a) those who want to see the president don a wetsuit and head to the Gulf floor; b) those who want to see the president don a cape and fly around the planet really quickly in order to reverse time; and c) those who want to see the president pound on podiums and lose his cool, as if that would make a difference.

Andrew Sullivan misses the point even more spectacularly:

Notice how post-modern the right is. You have to abandon your own principles of limited government, then pretend that the advocates of maximal government believes the state should be able to fix deep sea drilling blowouts, and then argue that all that matters in politics is not reality, but narrative.

Will couldn’t have been more clear:   People expect unreasonable things from presidents but Obama himself has helped stoke that phenomenon with his own pompous pronouncements about what he would accomplish.   Indeed, right after “and here’s what I mean by that,” Will cited an example from the middle of the campaign in which Obama promised to make the oceans stop rising.   “That kind of grandiosity has been part of his and the modern presidency’s narrative,” Will continued, and Progressives in particular have promised to solve all manner of problems if only they were given sufficient control over our lives.

It’s an incredibly gentle tweak of Obama and one that myself and other OTB authors have made in recent days in deriding the cult of the presidency.   See, “Cult of the Presidency: Oil Spill Edition,” “The Limitations of Government,” and “Obama’s Obligatory Oil Odyssey” for further discussion.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. This would seem to be a variation on the theme that Charles Krauthammer noted with his King Canute comments last week.

  2. john personna says:

    I think Sullivan is on to something. It has been a recurring theme from the right to use the schoolyard ploy “if Obama’s so great, …” They miss that most of the Obama as Superman stuff comes out of their own imagery, as they set up for the taunt again, and again.

    To call BS on your “oceans rising” buy-in, here is the original inagural quote:

    In our time we can stop the ocean’s from rising, curb pollution, and protect our planet and the planet of our children.

    “In our time we can” not “in my spare time I will.” Classic inflation from the right, to set up for “if Obama’s so great, why can’t he dive down and throttle the well with his bare hands?”

  3. john personna says:

    (Jeez, you have to be an idiot or a right-pundit to think that “in our time” is anything other than a call for group action.)

  4. john personna says:

    Yikes. I am chagrined to scroll up and see that wasn’t the real inaugural. So where does the oceans quote come from?

  5. john personna says:

    Hope it wasn’t this, because this sure ain’t a promise:

    The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

  6. Matt Osborne says:

    “Obama himself has helped stoke that phenomenon with his own pompous pronouncements about what he would accomplish”

    So the president is at fault because of a rhetorical flourish? Ridiculous. George Will is ridiculous. This post is ridiculous: “rising oceans” is just a poetic way of talking about AGW.

  7. StephenRex says:

    God, how pathetic you Obama supporters seem, trying to defend The Chosen One as he continues to be the unprepared, inexperienced empty suit we who didn’t vote for him knew he is–this as your precious Mother Earth drowns on crude oil.

    “Rhetorical flourishes” don’t solve problems.

    Also, O fans: did you ever give Bush a pass during Katrina with “What is he supposed to do?” LOL. Fools.

  8. john personna says:

    “as your precious Mother Earth” … where are you exactly?

  9. tom p says:

    People expect unreasonable things from presidents but Obama himself has helped stoke that phenomenon with his own pompous pronouncements about what he would accomplish.

    James: I have heard of short memories, but wasn’t the theme of his campaign…

    “Yes we can!”

    You (and Will) are as guilty as aall the “Obamabots”.

  10. tom p says:

    And I am as dissappointed as anybody else at his response to this catastrophe (not to mention his record on civil rights).

  11. tom p says:

    Ps: I hate the new Web design… click in the wrong place, wrong time…

    YOU LOSE!!!

    PSS: I love the addition of DM.

  12. tom p says:

    And what got lost in transition:

    God, how pathetic you Obama supporters seem, trying to defend The Chosen One as he continues to be the unprepared, inexperienced empty suit we who didn’t vote for him knew he is–this as your precious Mother Earth drowns on crude oil.

    SR: He was never my chosen one… just the best alternative I had to “DRILL BABY DRILL!!!”

    And you would have picked the “experienced” McCain???? Even after his performance during the economic meltdown??? Was he YOUR chosen one?

  13. Juneau: says:

    ikes. I am chagrined to scroll up and see that wasn’t the real inaugural. So where does the oceans quote come from?

    The quote referenced by Will was from his speech in Germany before he was elected President of the US. It was his “I’m the Savior of the World” speech. Naturally, he didn’t say he was the savior of the world, it was just nakedly implied. Those darn kids, you know how they can exaggerate when they get excited about something…

  14. Wayne says:

    Please stop pretending that Obama couldn’t and can’t do more. That fallacy has already been pointed out in other thread’s posts including waiting so long to sign and in other cases denying many of Louisiana’s Governor requests for waivers to build temporary berms . No cape needed there.

    Same goes for the “people who want smaller government want larger government now” B.S. Yes in a national emergency or an invasion we want the federal government to get involved and in a big way. However that doesn’t mean we want them involved in everything in a big way.

  15. anjin-san says:

    Also, O fans: did you ever give Bush a pass during Katrina with “What is he supposed to do?”

    What should Bush have done? Perhaps not go to a party when a huge hurricane was headed straight at a major city…

    trying to defend The Chosen One

    Do you have any idea how pathetic you sound when you use that expression? Obviously not…

  16. Herb says:

    Will does have a point, but it cuts both ways. What of all the “pompous pronouncements” about the super powers of an unregulated market?

  17. john personna says:

    Juneau, got a link to your “I’m the Savior of the World” speech?