Free Markets, Free People

Left pundits wonder why Obama’s presidency is shrinking away.

Maureen Dowd asks, “[h]ow did the first president of color become so colorless?”  Or, where’s the Obama mojo that attracted so many independents and some Republicans – enough to see him convincingly elected to the presidency.

Answer – it takes theater to elect a president any more and they had good theater.  It takes leadership to be a successful president and, at least to some of us, it was evident while reviewing the resume of then candidate Obama that he was way short in that department.

And now, as you might imagine, that’s showing up in spades.  Dowd notes that independents are leaving Obama in droves and, using her sister as an example (“Peggy” who is supposedly a Republican who opposed the war in Iraq and therefore swung her support over to Obama) lays out the reasons.  “Peggy” – as I read this – hit me more as an Olympia Snowe Republican than a conservative Republican:

Peggy thinks the president has done fine managing W.’s messes in Iraq and Afghanistan. And she lights up at the mention of his vice president, Joe Biden. But she thinks Obama has to get “a backbone” if he wants to lure her back to the fold. “He promised us everything, saying he would turn the country around, and he did nothing the first year,” Peggy says. “He piddled around when he had 60 votes. He could have pushed through the health care bill but spent months haggling on it because he wanted to bring some Republicans on board. He was trying too hard to compromise when he didn’t need the Republicans and they were never going to like him. Any idiot could see that.

“He could have gotten it through while Teddy Kennedy was still alive — he owed the Kennedys something — and then the bill was watered down.

My guess is that’s MoDo putting words in her sister’s mouth – if, in reality her sister really is a Republican. But I can’t imagine anyone of an even slightly conservative bent saying anything like "Peggy" did above.

However, MoDo goes on quoting Peggy’s thoughts and this seems much more likely of the person Dowd described:

“He hasn’t saved the economy, and now he’s admitting he’s made very little progress. You can’t for four years blame the person who used to be president. Obama tries to compromise too much, and he doesn’t look like a strong leader. I don’t watch him anymore. I’m turned off by him. I think he’s an elitist. He went down to the gulf, telling everyone to take a vacation down there, and then he goes to Martha’s Vineyard. He does what he wants but then he tells us to do other things.

“I want him in that White House acting like a president, not out on the campaign trail. Not when the country is going down the toilet.”

That sounds more like a independent or “moderate Republican” disillusioned by what all of us have seen and noted.  A total lack of awareness about how leadership works.  No understanding of how a leader should set the example and what leadership requires of a leader.  Totally tone deaf. Obama’s fallback for his lack of leadership skills and complaints about that  is to hit the campaign trail again.  It is campaigning he feels comfortable doing and speeches are his preferred form of leadership – because campaigning requires lots of wonderfully crafted words but very little actual doing. 

Obama’s coming problem in 2012 is he’ll have an actual record to examine– something he hasn’t really had before – and trust me, we all know it is going to be minutely examined.  Those like “Peggy” have pretty much realized how poor that record really is and are already looking for other candidates (“Peggy” supposedly is interested in voting for Mitt Romney if he runs but thinks anyone would be “nuts” to vote for Sarah Palin – I assume that’s now an obligatory part of most lefty’ pundits columns – the gratuitous shot at Palin).

Frank Rich – another dependable administration media lap dog – is all excited about some “forceful speeches” Obama has given.  Speaking of dogs, he’s very happy with how the president supposedly struck back at his critics saying they spoke about him “like a dog”.  Wow – there’s the Obama of old. 

But, even Rich knows he’s pushing a false line wrapped in a false hope:

For Obama to make Americans believe he does understand their problems and close the enthusiasm gap, he cannot merely make changes of campaign style. Sporadic photo ops in shirtsleeves or factory settings persuade no one; a few terrific speeches can’t always ride to the rescue.

In fact, that’s precisely the answer Obama always gives when confronted with a problem.  Hey, I”ll go out and work the crowd and talk about it.  It worked getting me elected, perhaps it will work now.

Uh, no – the campaign is over.  Some one needs to tell the president and his staff that’s the case.  Like “Peggy” said, she “wants him in the White House acting like a president”. 

Faint hope of that ever happening.

Rich gives Obama this advice:

As many have noted, the obvious political model for Obama this year is Franklin Roosevelt, who at his legendary 1936 Madison Square Garden rally declared that he welcomed the “hatred” of his enemies in the realms of “business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.” As the historian David Kennedy writes in his definitive book on the period, “Freedom from Fear,” Roosevelt “had little to lose by alienating the right,” including those in the corporate elite, with such invective; they already detested him as vehemently as the Business Roundtable crowd does Obama.

Though F.D.R. was predictably accused of “class warfare,” his antibusiness “radicalism,” was, in Kennedy’s words, “a carefully staged political performance, an attack not on the capitalist system itself but on a few high-profile capitalists.” Roosevelt was trying to co-opt the populist rage of his economically despondent era, some of it uncannily Tea Party-esque in its hysteria, before it threatened that system, let alone his presidency. Only the crazy right confused F.D.R. with communists for taking on capitalism’s greediest players, and since our crazy right has portrayed Obama as a communist, socialist and Nazi for months, he’s already paid that political price without gaining any of the benefits of bringing on this fight in earnest.

F.D.R. presided over a landslide in 1936. The best the Democrats can hope for in 2010 is smaller-than-expected losses. To achieve even that, Obama will have to give an F.D.R.-size performance — which he can do credibly and forcibly only if he really means it. So far, his administration’s seeming coziness with some of the same powerful interests now vilifying him has left middle-class voters, including Democrats suffering that enthusiasm gap, confused as to which side he is on. If ever there was a time for him to clear up the ambiguity, this is it.

Short version: hate is fine if you hate the right people – play that class warfare game, do some engaging but “F.D.R.-size” political theater, and the enthusiasm gap will start to close.

Really?  One wonders where Mr. Rich has been hanging out.  That’s all we’ve seen from this administration – political theater.  Very little that most voters would consider to be “progress” has been seen.  And despite the fact that Democrats would love to tout health care as “progress”, politically they know it is an albatross around their necks.

So they’re left with a bad economic situation, a greatly diminished presidency and “Peggy” and the Indies all headed to Redland.  And Rich’s answer is “do F.D.R. theater”, snub Republicans and engage in some heavy class-warfare.  That after telling him at another point “he cannot merely make changes of campaign style.”  Yeah, no confusion in lefty ranks … none whatsoever.

In reality, all of that is an example of lefty style jargon that never directly states the problem but dances all around it.  However they do know what he has to do to remedy the problem.  If he or MoDo had just said “get off the campaign trail and actually do something … lead!” they could have saved a whole bunch of column space in the NYT for something else worth reading.

~McQ

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23 Responses to Left pundits wonder why Obama’s presidency is shrinking away.

  • Peggy thinks the president has done fine managing W.’s messes in Iraq and Afghanistan. And she lights up at the mention of his vice president, Joe Biden.

    Hmmm… The left complains – more or less accurately – that The Dear Golfer is really doing nothing different than Bush did.  50,000 American soldiers security support specialists are still fighting conducting combat support and training missions in Iraq, and The Dear Golfer, after much dithering, doubled down in A-stan.  We’ve still got Predators blowing away suspected terrorists in Pakistan, and The Dear Golfer has even gone so far as to issue what is in effect an assassination order against an American citizen in Yemen (?).  How is this “managing W.’s messes”?

    And what idiot “lights up” at the mention of the walking gaffe machine, Sheriff Joe???  The man is a boob.  I can see real Republicans lighting up with glee simply because he’s such a bloody embarrassment to The Dear Golfer and the regime.

    How pathetic has MoDo become that she has to cite an alleged Republican who doesn’t even sound like a Republican to complain about what a disappointment her once-Golden Boy has become to her!

    The best the Democrats can hope for in 2010 is smaller-than-expected losses. To achieve even that, Obama will have to give an F.D.R.-size performance — which he can do credibly and forcibly only if he really means it. So far, his administration’s seeming coziness with some of the same powerful interests now vilifying him has left middle-class voters, including Democrats suffering that enthusiasm gap, confused as to which side he is on. If ever there was a time for him to clear up the ambiguity, this is it.

    Yeah, many of us noticed his coziness with the same villains that made routine appearances in his speeches: Big Pharma, Goldman Sachs, GE, etc. 

    Many of us also have no trouble determining which side The Dear Golfer is on: his own side.  The left, who played along with the whole post-partisan, uniter, light-worker campaign image, thought that they were getting an American Castro or Chavez, a genuine lefty revolutionary who would demolish Big Business and put power into the hands of the people… or, more exactly, the caring intellectuals of the left.  Instead, they got something rather closer to Hitler or Mussolini: a guy interested in controlling Big Business for his own ends.  Fools.

    At any rate, I think that the average democrat, while a lefty, wasn’t especially interested in a Cuban-style government.  They didn’t like Bush or the wars, and bought into the whole democrat populist government-is-your-friend message that was flogged to them every day by MiniTru.  They wanted a guy who would make things better, not turn them upside down.  This is why The Dear Golfer and his party are sinking in the polls: they lied about what they planned to do in order to get elected, and now are surprised that people are angry once they see the truth.  All the fighin’ Franklin speeches in the world won’t change that.

    • Occam’s Razor suggest that MoDo’s “Republican” was actually a Democrat who once voted for Reagan in 1984 or something.

    • she has to cite an alleged Republican who doesn’t even sound like a Republican

      It’s a New York “thing.” You see, most “real” Republicans have moved to Jersey.  This is what passes for a Republican in NYC.

    • I thought the same thing when I saw the remark about Biden.  Unless she was being sarcastic and referring to Biden as comedy relief, I cannot imagine that anyone (much less a conservative of any stripe) would feel that way about him.

  • You know, I think that people no longer look to class warfare or more government when the economy goes down the tubes. Even in Europe, they elect center-right parties when times are tough. I think people have figured out there is not much more government can do except hand out unemployment benefits. In their hearts they know the country needs economic growth not new hand-outs.
    FDR’s time was before communism or fascism were found to be failures. This is a very important point for people trying to hearken back to that era.

    • The mushy middle is schitzophrenic. Or maybe it’s better to say they suffer from goldfish syndrome, as in they just don’t seem to retain memory very long.

      <warning>over-simplification ahead</warning>

      When times are good, they look around and see rich people, and go “Why can’t I have all that? I’ve just got this middle class job and a house, while they’re bringing in millions and have a mansion.” So they support policies driven by envy, and figure the people in power are the wrong ones because they don’t share the envy and are just working for the rich guys. So they vote to go leftwards.

      When times are bad, they look around and go “Why can’t I get a job? When the other guys were in, I had a job. Man, this sucks.” They’re too preoccupied with how to get by to worry about how rich guys have mansions, and they support policies driven by fear. Sometimes that means they are willing to put aside class warfare for a while and give a Reagan a chance. Until his policies succeed, and they have a job and a house, and they look around and see rich people and….

      • Probably a larger number of people look around and say “I have an okay job, but I feel really sorry for Group A, so the government should help them somehow.” (The MSM helps by feeding the human interest stories that propagate the down-on-their-luck cases to the public, e.g. nice couple who need SCHIP, etc.)
        Then when times get bad, these people start saying “Man, we had better make sure I keep my job/get me a job.”
        Also, when money is tight is when people naturally look to their budget or to the government’s budget. The city of  Bell didn’t get caught in 2006. They got caught in 2010. In 2006, everyone was riding high and not caring.
         

        • HarunProbably a larger number of people look around and say “I have an okay job, but I feel really sorry for Group A, so the government should help them somehow.” (The MSM helps by feeding the human interest stories that propagate the down-on-their-luck cases to the public, e.g. nice couple who need SCHIP, etc.)

          I think you’re right.  Yeah, there are people who are motivated by class envy, but I think that MOST Americans are basically decent people who want to help others less fortunate… if it isn’t too much trouble for themselves.  Outsourcing charity to Uncle Sugar is perfect for this: no need to go volunteer at a food bank, retirement home, or homeless shelter and rub elbows with the “less fortunate”.  No need to even take the trouble to write a check or even drop some old clothes in a collection box.  Just sit back, not notice that part of their pay has disappeared, and let Uncle Sugar do the dirty work.  He’ll even see to it that people with “more money” pay more than they do.  It’s a two-fer: they can feel doubly virtuous because THEY have helped people AND made some greedy b*stard pay his “fair share”.

          • Outsourcing charity to Uncle Sugar is perfect for this:

            Especially since the impression given is that, like all government largesse, it is “free.”  I believe that one of the remedies to so much irresponsible government spending is for people to realize that it is their money that is being spent.  As long as people continue to believe that government has some magic wallet that they get all of this free money from, there will be a critical disconnect.

  • He piddled around when he had 60 votes. He could have pushed through the health care bill but spent months haggling on it because he wanted to bring some Republicans on board. He was trying too hard to compromise when he didn’t need the Republicans and they were never going to like him. Any idiot could see that.

    >>>

    Revisionist history at it’s worst. As a matter of recorded fact, the Barackycare negotiations were 99% limited to the Democrat majority. Barack “won” and there was zero need to get any of them on board. There were some token attempts to get one of the RINOs votes, but the issues were exclusively devoted to buying off various recalcitrant DEMOCRATS, including Nelson, the blue dogs, and the Stupak group.

    As another matter of recorded fact, Barack didn’t move to push anything through. He did nothing. He outsourced the project to Nancy and Harry.

    I have so little use for professional liars like Dowd anymore.

    • But the MSM will make sure it goes down differently in the history books. Remember, it was the Republicans from the South who opposed civil rights, after all. and Huey Long was a Republican, too.

  • Oh wait, it’s all due to racism

    Nevermind.

  • Left pundits wonder why Obama’s presidency is shrinking away.

    Really?  They wonder about that…?!?!?  The ONLY way that could be true is if they failed to understand the first thing about…oh,
    my bad….

  • But will Obama snap out of his dream after the election results?
    Bush fired Rumsfeld after 2006.
    Clinton went to the middle.
    I think Obama is still in denial land, but after 2010 elections will make sweeping changes to his staff. I am basing this on the fact that he just wants power and perks and doesn’t care what happens to his promises.

    • I…and lots of others…think Obama cannot pivot.  Both feet set firmly in ideology and narcissism.

      • He isn’t Clinton. I don’t see how he could pivot. He drank the cool aid, and the left owns him.

    • “I think Obama is still in denial land, but after 2010 elections will make sweeping changes to his staff.”

      There will be sweeping changes to his staff but instead of Obama cleaning house it will be more like rats escaping a sinking ship.  Obama, above all else, is an ideologue.  To him, his ideas are not only the best ones out there, they are the only ones that make sense – to him, and that is the only person he needs to appease.

      For him to “clean house” and pivot one single inch to the middle is to admit he is wrong – even a little bit.  And that is anathema to his very being.  He will play the victim card to the Nth degree.  If you think he has played the Bush Blame Game to date, you haven’t seen anything yet.  If you think he has played the Republicans are the Party of No Game to date, you haven’t seen anything yet.

      If the Republican take the House, invest everything you can get your hands on into sandbags – because the White House is going to become Fortress Obama.

      • I go back and forth on this stuff. Your argument is good too. I mean, if he gets a GOP Congress, he gets to whine about them for 2 more years to explain why nothing is happening. Maybe the economy inches back. Most likely the GOP will screw up somehow ala Gringrich or run a poor candidate in 2012. That sounds almost easier than attempting to do anything, and he does fall back to campaigning so easily.
        Plus he reads the MSM which will inform him (unless its a complete tsunami) that its normal for off-year elections, etc. etc.

    • I agree with SShiell: there WILL be changes, but mostly because the rats will desert the sinking ship.  Some will be motivated by future job prospects (“If I omit working for the Obama White House from my resume, will anybody notice?”), while others will be heading for the hills to avoid expected GOP investigations (“If I’m not in DC, maybe they won’t ask me what I know about where the stimulus money actually went.”)

      To the extent that The Dear Golfer will make changes… well, we’ve already seen what he’s inclined to do, which is more of the same.  Roemer left to be replaced by… Austan Goolsbee.  What a joke!  It’s like replacing Curly with Curly Joe: you’ve still got stooge on the team.  And witness WHY he was chosen as related by Politico:

      A senior administration official said Goolsbee is a team player who can navigate the White House and is a skilled television interviewee who can help the president promote his economic message.

      “He’s young and energetic and good on TV,” the official said.

      Politico also notes:

      By promoting Goolsbee, the White House sends a message that the president is standing his ground in the face of calls from House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and some Democrats for the dismissal of his economic team. [emphasis mine - dj505]

  • You’d think by now somebody would be tracking down Obama’s past.  If nothing more than just to see what makes he “tick.”   Is this stuff really that hard to find ?
    I think I’ve seen one (maybe two) people interviewed about Obama in college.  One guy who shared an apartment with him and few others for a “weekend”(?) came away wondering if he was gay as he showed up with a male “companion.”
    Was this guy really this invisible ?  Ralph Ellison wrote about the wrong guy.

  • WASHINGTON (AFP) – In the largest US arms deal ever, the administration of US President Barack Obama is ready to notify Congress of plans to offer advanced aircraft to Saudi Arabia worth up to 60 billion dollars, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

    This ought to go over really well with the Democratic base.

  • Leadership is giving your subordinates everything they need to be successful – support, resources, persuasion, information, direction, reward, punishment, encouragement and loyalty. Their failures are your responsibility.

    I doubt Barack Obama ever considered this definition or ever thought about non-authoritarian leadership.  Where he falls flat is that to him,  failure is never his fault. 

    Contrast Obama to Governor Chris Christy of NJ when he found out someone in his education department made a mistake that cost the state $400 million in federal education aid.  Listen to what the governor says in the last 29 seconds (5:00 to 5:29).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLSahbjR3k0

    Christy’s not pretty, but he’s the real deal!