Stage Two. So after a mere year, Obama has crashed and plummeted lower than any first year administration in polling history. His “let me be perfectly clear” and “make no mistake about it” are the equivalent now of the serial teen-age filler “Ya know.”
Deadlines mean only more deadlines: “Please stop that Iranian nuclear program — or else I will set another deadline!”; “Pass health care before the summer recess; no, before Thanksgiving; no, before the Christmas holidays; no, before the first of the year!”; “We will air health care debates on C-span; and we will air them; and we will air them; and we…”
Conservatives are in a “I told you so mood” — as the 2008 talk-radio bombast about Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright, “redistributive” spread the wealth, European socialism, etc., well, turned out not to be 2009 bombast at all.
Moderates and independents sigh, “I can’t believe this is happening to me; he seemed just like Clinton with all that balanced budget talk, balanced energy policy, and mainstream help-the-little-guy talk. What happened to the Barack we trusted?” David Brooks, Peggy Noonan and Christopher Buckley no longer talk of the His knowledge of the great books, of a first class mind and temperament, and a detached calm and sense of competence.
Liberals wonder, “Why is the coolest guy around suddenly flubbing every opportunity to get our agenda passed?” The hard-left laments, “This guy is a triangulator who gave us a nibble, then pulled away the bone.”
His supporters counter, “See, he is a pragmatist and centrist who alienates the extremes.” No, no, no — he alienates them, but now the middle as well. What keeps his approval ratings in the forties is only the idea that the American people cannot quite yet accept a failed presidency after a mere 12 months — one that they had invested such hopes in after the poll crashing of Bush’s final two years.
Stage Three. The finger-pointing and blame-gaming begin since no one can properly address the real and only problem: Barack Obama has had no previous identity or independent ideology. By osmosis (rather than by careful study or life-long experience) he absorbed the trendy left-wing cant that variously manifested itself wherever he traveled, from the Occidental lounge dorm to the Ivy League salon groupthink to Chicago organizing to Rev. Wright’s pulpit to the liberal caucuses of the U.S. Senate. For a while, it was all as easy as sonorously thundering “hope and change.” He never before had to articulate his leftism in any real detail, defend it, debate it, or analyze it.
But now as his polls dip, we hear instead gripes over tactics, not the essence of the problem — the absence of an identity confidently and honestly expressed. So we get nonsense: “He’s too detached and cool: we need a fighting Bob Lafollette!” “He outsourced his agenda to the polarizing, corrupt and inept Reid/Pelosi wing.” “He surrounded himself with one too many shady Chicago polls.” “He took on too much all at once.” “Who thought up the idea that health care and cap and trade ranked above the recession in the public mind?”
What’s next? We can predict it in our sleep. He will continue the “let me be perfectly clear,” “fat-cat banker” talk to his base, do his selected-audience hope and change rants while trying to do a move-to-the-center light. Oh yes, a commission to balance the budget — sorta. Tough talk abroad — kinda. Health care reform we can all agree on — maybe.
In the past, every time Obama has been in a jam, two things followed. He first throws under the bus perceived liabilities (yesterday’s Rev. Wright and grandmother will be this year’s Rahm Emanuel, Timothy Geithner and Janet Napolitano).
Second, he adopts the no more red state/blue state, “bipartisan,” “there is only one America” rhetoric. Yes, soon we will indeed hear abroad of American exceptionalism, and a thing called “the war on terror,” and, at home, deficits that must be paid back and “working across the aisle.”
I doubt we get genuine effort at balancing the budget, keeping businesses competitive, cutting waste, restoring American alliances, securing borders, centrist appointments, real bipartisanship, or a simplified tax system.
Instead, we’ve come full circle from the idealistic-sounding, centrist candidate Obama, to the Carter-McGovern President Obama, back to the wannabe Clinton triangulator. The only constant — no real identity, no firm belief, no core convictions from which to make the argument that his left-wing vision is good for the country. You see, Mr. Obama never had to: left-wing dogma was always a state religion in the circles Obama thrived, and once Obama the nightingale started in his song, few of the hypnotized worried about inane message that followed.
Being president is all so, so unfair!