Was it the blame-gaming — “Bush did it!,” ATMs are at fault, tsunamis are the culprit, no other administration has had such challenges, the euro meltdown is to blame, earthquakes shook our confidence — that finally turned the country off of Obama?
For the last two years, millions of Americans have grown, ever so insidiously, tired of Barack Obama and his administration. The Tea Party brought such frustrations to the fore. And now the debates — and the ability of Romney to show millions that he is a decent, competent alternative to Obama rather than the caricatured greedy white man of Obama’s sleazy ads — are closing the deal.
In the first debate, Romney was not just far better-informed and spoken, but far more likeable. Joe Biden’s frenzied rudeness was the sort of debate performance that mesmerizes one by its very boorishness, eliciting a weird reaction in the room like “Come over and check this out: I can’t believe the Vice president of the United States is trumping The Joker” (after all, the sick Joker is more entertaining that the sober and judicious Batman) — but within hours leaves a bitter aftertaste in the mouth of something along the lines of “Surely, we could have done better than that rude buffoon?”
The election is not over, but it is starting to resemble October 29 or November 1 in 1980, when, after just one debate, the nation at last decided that it really did not like Jimmy Carter very much or what he had done, and discovered that Ronald Reagan was not the mad Dr. Strangelove/Jefferson Davis of the Carter summer television ads. Like Carter, Obama both has no wish to defend his record (who would?) and is just as petulant. In the next three weeks, he has only three hours left to save his presidency.
Do We Remember?
There are lots or reasons why various groups are tiring of Obama. It is not just the economy, but also all the untruths about the economy over the last four years that sounded like daily communiqués from the Ministry of Truth. Do we even remember the brilliant Obama economic A-team, chomping at the bit in December 2008 to get started to pull us into the good times — a Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner (remember, he was the “genius” who almost alone knew how high finance on Wall Street worked and so had to be exempted from cheating on his tax deductions), Christina Romer, Peter Orszag, and, later, Austan Goolsbee, who have now all come and gone.
When was “Recovery Summer”? What were the “shovel-ready jobs” that were “not as … uh … shovel-ready as we expected”? Where went the stimulus? How much are we owed by GM? What happened to the Volt? Where are the “millions of green jobs”? Did the green-shade Joe Biden really go through the stimulus line by line? And was he smirking and guffawing at what he saw?
Do we remember the mad, obscene rantings of the “Truther” Van Jones or the Mao devotee Anita Dunn? How long have Rham Emanuel and Bill Daley been gone? For many, Obama has become one Steven Chu too many.
Feet of Clay
Or maybe Obama’s problem lies with the absurdly high expectations brought about by the faux-Greek columns, vero possumus!, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” and the promise to cool the planet and lower the seas — the sort of juvenile giddiness that brings embarrassment when one sobers up?
Did we hear one tingle up the leg or one perfect crease of the pants or one “most brilliant president” too many? When Joe Biden and Harry Reid voiced quasi-racist commentary on Obama’s white blackness, they seemed to voice the liberal tingle that they could both embrace a black man and not embrace a black man, as if voting for Obama gave them exemption from worrying about their own apartheid existences, as cosmic inclusivity allowed private exclusiveness.
Jacksonian without the Jackson
The first time candidate Obama courted rappers, appeared on celebrity TV and radio shows, or hipped it up, it was thought “cool,” a sort of armor that would ensure that the normal political invective bounced off his in-the-know defenses. Now, four years later? We have a sort of Jacksonian White House, but visited by zillionaire entertainers and without the populism. When Obama leaves Netanyahu cooling his heels to hang with Jay-Z, Beyoncé, or the ladies of The View, or flies to Vegas on news that our ambassador has been murdered, it is either crass or juvenile or both. How, millions of Americans are starting to ask, did this man become president? With well over 400 rounds of golf and 200 fundraisers under his belt, no wonder Mr. Obama had to skip the national security briefings and the debate prep — what a “drag” they were.