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Ed Driscoll

It’s Deja Coakley All Over Again

September 8th, 2010 - 4:40 pm

“With less than an hour before President Obama’s scheduled speech, 75 seats remained empty in the recreation center at Cuyahoga Community College’s Western Campus,” the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports today:

So organizers went around campus and recruited more students to fill the seats.

Student Jennifer Rahal, of Parma Heights, whose class was canceled today, was working on her art work in the coffee shop in the basement of the building when the call went out for more guests.

After dropping off their stuff at a bag check, the newly invited guests cleared security and filed into the gym.

And then there was this moment, when the POTUS and TOTUS were more than a little out of sync:

YouTube Preview Image

Both of those elements ring a bell; flash back to President Obama’s big rally in January at Northeastern University to support Martha Coakley, the would-be Democratic successor to the seat held by Teddy Kennedy seemingly since the days of the Coolidge Administration:

We are repeatedly being told over the last week or so that President Obama is still wildly popular in Massachusetts. The White House must have believed this since Obama decided to expend some capital and make a pitch for Martha Coakley on the ground yesterday in Boston.

But if Obama is so popular, why was the hall at Northeastern University where the president was scheduled to speak not bursting at the seams with good Democrats? Carl Cameron of Fox News reported that there were perhaps 2000-2500 people in attendance in a venue that sat 3000.

Then there was the heckler. Of course, he was drowned out by Coakley supporters but our president seemed a bit taken aback that anyone would dare interrupt him and not be struck by a bolt of lightning.
Watch Obama wait…and wait…and wait not quite knowing how to handle the situation and then, tellingly, losing his place on the teleprompter:

He actually had at least two flubs during that speech back in January; for what it’s worth, here are the gist of the gaffes:

It did seem like Obama had teleprompter trouble at the 2:45 mark of this video when he appears to draw a blank on what state he was in: “I want to thank the great senior senator from … this … (laughs) … I know where we are–Massachusetts–the great commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

Then later around the 16:30 mark, Obama discusses the stimulus package and accidentally says, “Martha’s opponent would have voted against those taxes.” (YouTube here.) He immediately realizes he meant to say that the $700 billion stimulus bill is a tax cut rather than a tax hike (he was closer to the truth the first time) and adds: “he would have voted against those tax cuts–would have voted against those tax cuts.”

These are not big gaffes by any means, but for a politician known for a silver tongue, Obama certainly seemed off his game.

But let’s return to today’s speech, which includes Obama finally finding a new Republican worthy of demonizing after exhausting all of the previous attacks on President Bush, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, Rush Limbaugh, Scott Brown, conservative and Hillary voters in general, etc. Or as Allah puts it:

Alternate headline: “Confirmed: Obama all but admits that Boehner will be Speaker next year.” This is vintage Barry O in a number of ways: (1) The giggle-worthy salute to “lean government” [vividly illustrated here -- Ed] as a way of framing himself as a centrist pragmatist (hey, it convinced David Brooks during the election); (2) the lame straw man about the GOP having proposed no ideas of its own (Boehner and Cantor are firing back on Twitter); (3) the endless bashing of the conservative villain du jour, which today meant Boehner even though, er, most voters don’t know who he is; and (4) of course, of course, the more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger lament about the politics of fear forever being practiced by those darned wingnuts.

In his latest post at Pajamas, Victor Davis Hanson has an interesting thesis on why the One seems so off his game these days:

Throughout the Obama presidential odyssey, an enthralled media variously dubbed him a “god,” confessed to tingling sensations when he spoke, and in vicious fashion turned on any politician who tried to question Obama’s actual record of achievement — whether Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin.

There is no need to pursue the journalistic malfeasance that allowed the President of the United States to be inaugurated without any real past scrutiny. Suffice to say that any future presidential candidate who promises to cool the planet and lower the rising seas will be laughed out of contention — even if he puts “yes, we can” into Latin on his pre-presidential seal.

Race was a factor. Here the Left is correct in assessing its importance in evaluating Obama, although not quite in the way they think. At various times, a disturbing racialist trope emerged that suggested white liberals were enthralled almost solely by Obama’s mixed heritage, his diction and comportment. Not to mention the overall sense that he was a moderate and charismatic African-American that knew precisely how to put anxious well-meaning folks like themselves at ease — and that this was simply not true of the majority of other African-American politicians, and that this in and of itself would suffice.

Promoting Obama offered blanket exemption from even the suggestion of prejudice — a sort of cheap flip of a ‘get out of jail free’ card than ensured liberal elites could otherwise pursue their sheltered lives without guilt or worry over demands for daily interaction with most African-Americans. Elect Obama, worry not what he did — and at last live guilt free lives in seclusion.

That is a serious charge that should not be made lightly, but the emphasis on Obama’s diction, pigment, and appearance—rather than his actual record—is not my own.

Joe Biden, for example, blurted out, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” Apparently Biden meant that the antithesis of Obama’s profile  — a non-mainstream African-American, who spoke a southern patois, who did not appear bright and clean and handsome — most definitely was not to be a storybook candidate and perhaps likely to put off white liberals like Biden. (Note that Biden did not mention any particular achievement of Obama, merely the impression that he made on those like himself.)

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was perhaps cruder even than Biden. It was reported that he had characterized Obama as a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one’. Again, Reid’s implied antithesis — a dark-skinned African American who spoke with a Negro dialect all the time — would probably offend progressives like Reid. (Note here that Harry Reid seems to have been the first serious observer to publicly describe one of Obama most off-putting characteristics — the near cynical fashion in which he turns on not slightly, but entirely, different cadences and intonations to cater to particular crowds.)

Progressive Condescension

In short, Obama seems aware that a particular cadre of influential white liberals has traditionally accorded him deference not warranted by actual achievement, but rather by his projection of a progressive persona, as crudely outlined by a Biden or Reid — and that this by now is a normal course of events rather than an aberrant experience: Hence his anger that all that has at last begun to end.

It is hard to think that an Elena Kagan, Dean of Harvard Law School, would have gushed over the rather undistinguished legal record of Barack Obama, had he been either a well published, but obese white Harvard Law graduate, or a conservative African-American antipode to the Biden-Reid stereotype, perhaps in the Clarence Thomas mold. After all, it was not just Obama’s appearance or skin color or cadences that so impressed Biden and Reid and won over liberal Americans, but his politics as well that earned him an exemption not accorded even to an equally professional appearing Colin Powell or Condoleeza Rice.

Now What?

But enough speculation over motives for the origins of Obama’s strange and growing petulance. All that matters for the country is that the current president of the United States seems surprised that as our chief executive he is earning scrutiny not previously accorded him — and that he finds that demand for accountability both exasperating and abjectly unfair. Thus this week’s latest “like a dog” whine.

For some reason, Obama believed that those who expected after his campaign promises a real upturn in the economy, or fiscal responsibility, or inspired foreign policy would be satisfied, as they had in the past, merely with soaring rhetoric and superficial reassurance. When they were not, and voiced such displeasure, as ingrates they had supposedly reduced Obama to canine-like status.

On the other hand, even without that level of analysis, some administrations are simply snakebit, or as John Podhoretz recently wrote, “Something weird happens when presidencies go wrong,” but then, few previous administrations were tasked by their supporters — and themselves — with creating Heaven on Earth.

Oh, and speaking of Deja Vu all over again

Related: James Lewis on “Obama, Alinsky, and Scapegoats,” at the American Thinker.

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