Athens City Limits

As Victor Davis Hanson writes, "we are witnessing another Greek tragedy as our chief executive slowly implodes:"

There is a growing desperation among politicians that the populace perceives them as pretty much alike — alike in the sense of not being appealing. In Obama’s case, the charge is doubly serious, because he made extravagant claims that our first community organizer and our first African-American to become president — and our most purely liberal president in a generation — would be different, as in bringing a new humility and competence to the office.

Instead, over half the electorate sees only hypocrisy. Obama initially called for understanding and patience with the BP spill, in a way he had not when demagoguing Katrina. He suddenly found Guantanamo, renditions, military tribunals, Predator assassinations, and Iraq to be complex issues, after assuring us that they were open-and-shut cases of simple morality. Bush’s deficit misdemeanors suddenly became Obama’s felonies — after he ran on the theme that Bush had recklessly run up the debt. The 2008 campaign to highlight racial harmony by electing the symbolic postracial Obama has become a sort of nightmare in which the old, tired identity politics of the 1980s rage as never before, fanned by an unpopular president desperate to rev up his base. [Ed Morrissey notes another issue that has played very differently with the American public than it did inside the bull sessions of the Obama braintrust -- enforcing immigration. -- Ed]

The common denominator here is that a largely conservative electorate has always wanted lower taxes, smaller but more competent government, fewer overseas commitments, honest government, and officials who live like the public they represent — and it can’t seem to find that package in any party or candidate being presented to it. Indeed, the Obama medicine is now seen as worse than the Bush disease, in that he less competently oversaw the war in Afghanistan, blew apart the budget, and lives more royally than any Republican.

The obsequious media have been left scrambling to explain this new Orwellian barn wall: Bush’s aristocratic golf is now Obama’s needed relaxation; Bush’s bumbling press conferences might explain why Obama wisely doesn’t hold many at all; Republican congressional corruption simply led to a “They all do it, even Democrats” narrative; Bush’s failure to articulate how and why we would win in Iraq suddenly morphs into Afghanistan as a baffling experience that confuses all of us. Obviously, even the most adept public-relations-minded journalist could not pull all that off, and so we are left with media now as discredited as they are loathed.

And where does all that leave us?

The public is waiting for an articulate conservative reformer who will quietly keep promises to balance the budget more through spending cuts than taxes, close the border to illegal immigration, either win or get out of long wars abroad, respect federal law and apply it equally, and restore a sense of American confidence and American exceptionalism.

The odd thing is that the entire country senses how Obama could restore his ratings to over 50 percent in the same way Clinton did in 1995. He would simply call in Republicans to work out a deal to balance the budget, quit his two-year “Bush did it” whine, stop suing the states, reassure business that there will be no more tax hikes, praise the private sector for its ingenuity and competence, stop trying to appeal to his base through race and ethnicity, and get engaged on Afghanistan.

Because there is no chance that Obama will or can do that, we are witnessing another Greek tragedy as our chief executive slowly implodes.

Greek, or Texas-sized?

Update: "But, while it seems clear that President Obama enjoys campaigning and hobnobbing a lot more than he does governing, it is hard to imagine him giving up after one term. I think the Obamas' tone-deafness, which was on exhibit long before Michelle's Spanish vacation, more likely results from their inexperience and the fact that if you are a factor in Democratic Party politics, you spend a great deal of time with rich people. That can skew one's perspective."

As can buying into early press clippings such as this.