Every President starts to wear on the public. But the omnipresent Obama has become wearisome in record time. Why?
1) Money: There is none. Every time the president talks of another billion for this, and trillion for that, the people sigh: “We don’t have it; he’s going to borrow it.” Unemployment is near 10%, so borrowing nearly $2 trillion each year makes more sense to Keynesian economists than to voters who don’t find hope by maxing out their credit cards when they lose their jobs.
Obama is weirdly oblivious to number crunching — as is true of many who have never been self-employed or had to scramble without a public salary. Yet even Hillary is now whining that her foreign policy is frozen by the fact of mounting American debt. Obama is the stereotypical great-aunt that sweeps into the Christmas dinner casually boasting about what she is going to do for this niece and that nephew, while most roll their eyes with the understanding that her credit cards are long ago maxed out — and more likely she will be hitting up relatives for loans. Americans don’t like magnanimity with other people’s money.
2) Style: Great orators get better in their rhetoric, not worse. It turns out that the people risked a blank slate in Obama in part because in his teleprompted hope and change orations, he sounded fresh and mellifluous. Voters assumed he would wear well. But in nonstop interviews, press conferences, and conversations, the impromptu president seems no more comfortable than was an ad hoc George Bush. And just as liberals were turned off by Bush’s cowboyisms, so too conservatives are tired of Obama’s professorial, condescending sermons. After a year, the people are tired of all the “let me be perfectly clear” psycho-drama, the “make no mistake about” pseudo-tough man pose, the straw man “I reject the false choice that some would…,” and the narcissistic “I have ordered…..my team…to.” The boilerplate is now recognizable even to the Washington press corps. But as important, it dovetails with more disturbing propensities: there are the periodic signs of inanity like “Cinco de Cuatro” and “corpse-man;” the constant fudging on the truth of multibillion dollar new programs really “saving” money; and the surreal bowing to dictators and emperors, with the relish of turning our misdemeanors into felonies and our enemies’ felonies into benefactions.
3) Laureate Warmaking: Utopians cannot get away with quadrupling the number of targeted killings in Pakistan and Waziristan against suspected terrorists and their wives. Twangy Texans who believe that we are at “war” against non-uniformed enemy combatants logically order Predators assassinations against what they see as a ruthless, bloodthirsty radical Islamic “enemy” in a “them or us” fight to the finish. But, again, not so Nobel Peace laureates, who want terrorists to be Mirandized, the architects of 9/11 to be tried in civilian courts in New York, and CIA interrogators to be investigated for waterboarding known mass murderers. So once you go down the path of our struggle against terrorists and jihadists as a criminal enterprise, with writs, trials, and prison sentences, then targeted killing and assassinating suspects, even from high in the sky, simply do not make sense. (Comparative morality argues that it is nicer to waterboard confessed mass murderers than to vaporize suspected terrorists.)
4) Saintly partisanship: Crass politicians can get away with the nuclear option or reconciliation. Hard-nosed Republicans senators once threatened to go nuclear with 51 votes in the Senate to get judges confirmed in the manner that once outraged liberal politicos who now are more than happy to ram through health care without 60 votes. But messiahs? Obama once gave a sermon on the dangers of mere majority rule, when he was a backbencher in the Senate and a favorite of the hard left. “Majorities” in his refined mind were then a sign of rowdy tyrannical populism. So such a parliamentarian really cannot now threaten to use a bare majority to smash through health care, not when he has assured us that he is no Harry Reid or Barbara Boxer, but rather a “no more blue/red state” “healer.” The wages of hypocrisy are usually more costly than mindless partisanship. And the more Obama talks of bipartisanship and reaching out, the more the law professor seems to go out of his way to be petulant and trenchantly “my way or the highway.”