After noting that Obama and the Pelosi Democrats alienated Maureen Tucker of the Velvet Underground, Mickey Kaus tries to explain some of the reasons why:
A friend of mine says he isn’t certain that if you woke Obama up in the middle of the night and told him foreign troops had landed on the beach in Florida, Obama’s first reaction would be “Sh–, we’re under attack.” He might jump right to worrying about the root causes. Well, how hard is that uncertainy to counteract? You pick an America-bashing lefty, or a Hugo Chavez type, and you put him down. Then don’t apologize.
(Isn’t that basically Michael Dukakis responding Spock-like at Bernard Shaw’s question at the 1988 presidential debates regarding how he would respond to a hypothetical attack on his wife writ large?)
Which is one reason (among many) why Obama is a considerably different — and less reflexively American president — then either Bill Clinton or FDR.
Let’s start with the former man. At the Washington Examiner, Mark Hemingway explains “Why Bill Clinton is a much better politician than Barack Obama:”
Why is Bill Clinton a better politician than Barack Obama? In a word, triangulation. Bill Clinton was always seeking opportunities to emphasize his political independence from Democrats and liberals, particularly on cultural issues. After all, Clinton was the man that brought “Sister Souljah moment” into the political lexicon.
Since getting elected, Obama and his administration seem to have reflexively expressed the doctrinaire liberal position more often than not. But in a center-right country, where an increasingly small number of the electorate identifies as liberal, that doesn’t get you very far.
Jen references Michael Gerson’s devastating Washington Post column in which he calls President Obama an intellectual snob. Equally interesting, I think, is a front-page article in today’s New York Times, with its simply astonishing opening sentence: “It took President Obama 18 months to invite the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, to the White House for a one-on-one chat.” Who was it who ran for president as a “post-partisan,” and who was going to bring a new way of doing things to Washington?
The Times notes that, “Mr. Obama came to office vowing to reach across the aisle and change the tone in Washington, a goal he quickly abandoned when Republicans stood in lockstep against his stimulus bill.” The Republicans, of course, “stood in lockstep” against the stimulus bill because they were completely frozen out of any role in shaping it. (By the way, my inner copy editor shudders at the metaphor “stood in lockstep.” “Lockstep” is a mode of marching, not standing, but…) It was needless, counterproductive, and, alas, typical behavior on Obama’s part.
As Gershon points out, Franklin Roosevelt was an aristocrat to his fingertips, complete with Mayflower ancestors, a mansion overlooking the Hudson, a large trust fund, the right schools, the right clubs, and a “Park Avenue Oxford” accent. But he ”was able to convince millions of average Americans that he was firmly on their side.” Obama has convinced millions of Americans that he regards them as fools, too scared to think straight.
So it’s not true, as Jonah wrote last week when linking to Gerson’s WaPo essay that “The Only Thing We Have . . . Is Fear Itself.” There’s also plenty of condescension and anger towards the American people. Like Obama, FDR occasionally lost it with conservative reporters and politicians, but at least he somehow managed not to project his inner snobbery onto the America people themselves, which is toxic.
All of which is why, “This is not an election on November 2. This is a restraining order,” P.J. O’Rourke wrote this past weekend.