All of which leads to President Obama. He was elected because he is cool, calm and analytical. That’s what we wanted to see after George W. Bush, so we made him president. But now the disaster in the Gulf has made many of us want to see someone else — with plenty of anger, emotion and bravado. We want him to yell at BP. We want him to loudly tell us he’s whipping the cleanup effort into shape.
To which Bush replied, “Miss me yet?”
So we want him to morph into something he isn’t — which is exactly what we hate about our politicians. We want him to be another Barack Obama, an actor. Maybe we want him to be George Bush with the bullhorn after 9/11. Only he isn’t.
Damn! That was fast!
Now, before this next bit, put down your coffee and clear your throat because this next bit is funny as hell.
There is one president, of course, who never had to be prodded into the empathy zone: Bill Clinton. He felt our pain all the time. Last week, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell put it this way: “If Bill Clinton was president, he’d have been in a wetsuit, trying to get down to see the spill.” He’s right, of course, but think back for a moment: That’s exactly what Americans came to distrust about Clinton. By emoting too much, they never knew what to believe. What was real and what wasn’t?
You never had to prod Clinton because he was too busy “prodding” Monica with cigars! Clinton felt our pain only when he wasn’t feeling Monica’s breasts.
Emoting too much? That’s why America didn’t trust Clinton? Whitewater, filegate, travelgate, FBIgate, IRSgate, Monica and on and on and on…that’s why America didn’t trust Clinton.
The rest is just drivel from her.
It’s the second most unintentionally hilarious column from a CNN journalist since CNN’s Jonathan Mann ran through the usual laundry list of media-acceptable “progressive” presidents in late November of 2008, before asking, “Which hero do we want Obama to be?”
The Americans who are comparing him to those remarkable predecessors are putting a lot of faith in a man they barely know.
Peggy Noonan: “But Mr. Obama was supposed to be competent.”
No, Mr. Obama claimed to be competent. Mr. Obama put on airs of competence. But Mr. Obama had never actually proven to be competent, except at exactly two things: Winning easy elections and convincing the Mainstream Media not to look too deeply into those airs. And you, Ms. Noonan, were among the convinced.
Others can, and do say, “I told you so.” But not with any glee, Ms. Noonan, because we’re all paying for your unforced error.
More 20/20 hindsight from Noonan:
I don’t see how the president’s position and popularity can survive the oil spill. This is his third political disaster in his first 18 months in office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning they were shaped by the president’s political judgment and instincts.
The press is supposed to push and prod and pester and generally make life unlivable for presidential candidates. The reason is: Nothing the press can do is even close to the real pressures of the Oval Office — but it’s as close as we can get. Obama never went through the mandatory pushing and prodding and pestering, so the press failed in its prime duty to test this man before Election Day.
And now, the chorus arises — first Chris Matthews, now Noonan — that maybe this empty suit might not be filled with all the stuff the MSM poured into it.
Golly, ya think?
Then the Noonans and the Matthews and the rest wonder why Obama treats them with such disdain. He’s right to.
And now it’s our turn.
Meanwhile, to answer Jonathan Mann’s question from late 2008, which liberal president do we want Obama to be? At the moment, Peter Ferrara of the American Spectator is going all the way with LBJ:
Months ago, I predicted in this column that President Obama would so discredit himself in office that he wouldn’t even be on the ballot in 2012, let alone have a prayer of being reelected. Like President Johnson in 1968, who had won a much bigger victory four years previously than Obama did in 2008, President Obama will be so politically defunct by 2012 that he won’t even try to run for reelection.
I am now ready to predict that President Obama will not even make it that far. I predict that he will resign in discredited disgrace before the fall of 2012. Like my previous prediction, that is based not just on where we are now, but where we are going under his misleadership.
I suspect Obama will at least ride out his first term, but who knows? Blogger “NiceDeb” runs down the myriad of scandals, crises, and disasters that Obama is currently staring down.
And then there are the American people, which are also staring down the president. As Michael Barone notes, “Historic low for Democrats in Gallup poll:”
Wow! The Gallup organization reports that on the generic ballot question—which party’s candidate would you vote for in Congress—Republicans currently lead Democrats 49%-43%. That’s the biggest Republican lead since Gallup began asking the question in 1950—and in fact Republicans have seldom been ahead in those 60 years. More bad news for the Democrats: 39% of Republicans say they’re enthusiastic about voting, compared to 25% of Independents and 24% of Democrats.
There’s no way to sping [sic] this except as bad news for Democrats. Yes, Democratic candidates may be able to beat Republican challengers here and there by attacking them as wackos. But Democrats are in trouble, as I argued in my Sunday Examiner column, on both competence and ideology—a pretty lethal combination.
And with all that going on, Jennifer Rubin asks the 6.4 Trillion Dollar Question: “When Do They Tune Out?”
There is a point in a presidency when the public simply has had enough and tunes out, unwilling to listen even when the president says sensible things or has a reasonable point to make in his own defense. For George W. Bush, it was Katrina. The question for Obama is how close to that point is he now, and will the next bad news week push him over the edge.
Toby Harnden writes:
Central to Obama’s appeal was his promise to be truly different. His failure to achieve that is now at the core of the deep disappointment Americans feel about him. At the press conference — the first full-scale affair he had deigned to give for 309 days — he appeared uncomfortable and petulant. … Obama engaged in the obligatory populist bashing of Big Oil and, of course, demonstrated the Obama administration’s version of Tourette’s Syndrome, blaming the previous administration for the situation when, by my reckoning, it’s a full 16 months since Bush left office.
So an oil spill that he had as much ability to prevent as George W. Bush did to stop Katrina from hitting shore has snared the president, who oversold himself and the power of government. But the Joe Sestak scandal may be worse. For one thing, it’s a White House–made mess, not a natural disaster. As Harden comments:
That was potentially illegal and for weeks the White House stonewalled. When, even more inconveniently, Sestak beat Specter, the trust-us-nothing-untoward-happened approach would no longer wash. But still Obama declined to answer the question on Thursday, fobbing the reporter — and America — off with the promise that “there will be an official response shortly on the Sestak issue.”
This did indeed come the following day — conveniently timed for that Friday afternoon news void before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Lo and behold, it turns out that none other than former President Bill Clinton was asked by Obama’s chief of staff and Chicago enforcer Rahm Emanuel to offer Sestak a place on a presidential board.
Whether or not the law was broken, the cynicism of this is breathtaking. Obama offered a break from the Clinton-Bush past and an end to the shoddy backroom deals of Washington. So what does he do? He tries to deny Pennsylvania voters a chance to decide for themselves by using his former foe Clinton to offer a grubby inducement.
Obama has persistently ridiculed his opposition and shown contempt for and emotional distance from the voters. In a bind now — partly his fault, partly not — he encounters an opposition more than willing to turn the knife and a public that lacks much of an emotional connection with its president. In short, he’s infuriated and reinvigorated the opposition while frittering away his reserve of goodwill with the American people. Presidential credibility is a precious commodity, and Obama has little left. He is approaching the point – maybe he’s at it already — where the public disregards his utterances and begins to look around for a Congress to block his unpopular agenda and then a successor to, well, deliver “change.”
In the meantime, as Michelle Malkin writes,welcome to “The long, hot Summer of Corruption.”
Which, given Obama’s background in Chicago machine politics, brings the quote from Gloria Borger at the top of this post full circle.