Ed Driscoll

'Obama Plays Voters' Psychiatrist-in-Chief on Trail'

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Back in 2008, Mary Katharine Ham had some fun with Obama as potential Nanny in Chief, with her “Obama on your shoulder” video. Now that he’s in office, how grating has his hectoring become, given that for the first time in his adult life, he’s staring into the face of a likely serious career setback?


So bad that even AP has noticed; and don’t miss the accompanying photo; at least for the moment, we’ve come along with from the obligatory halo composition:

According to President Barack Obama, Americans are angry, frustrated, scared, anxious, uncertain, nervous, discouraged and shaken up.They’re also confused and not thinking clearly.

Heading into critical midterm elections, Obama has been freely sharing this gloomy diagnosis on the campaign trail, at times sounding more like a psychiatrist than a politician. He usually couples it with a reminder that the country’s been through tough times before and is resilient enough to bounce back, and an appeal to voters to “choose hope over fear.”

Obama’s dreary assessment appears to be an attempt to empathize with voters in a time of acute economic anxiety. It also can serve as an explanation about why voters haven’t embraced his agenda — and why they look poised to deliver a drubbing to Democrats Nov. 2.

Americans would be more supportive of his policies, the president suggests, if they weren’t fettered by anxiety he accuses the GOP of stoking. And the descriptions of angst from a president criticized as overly cerebral and aloof also allow him to attempt to show he feels voters’ pain — even if he can’t cure it.

So the president who campaigned on hope and change now sometimes sounds more like he’s diagnosing depression than offering inspiration.


On the other, the Psychiatrist-in-Chief might want to heal himself. Blogger JammieWearingFool notes the contradictory messages that the president is offering: “Obama to Kids: Stop the Bullying; Obama to Latinos: Punish Your Enemies.”

Oh, and speaking of contradictory messages: Remember back in late 2007 and early 2008, shortly before “Rev. Wright” became a household name, when articles such as this led many to believe that Obama was a forward-thinking post-racial candidate about to leave toxic race-hustlers such as Al Sharpton in the dust?

So much for that idea:

“My name may not be on the ballot, but our agenda for moving forward is on the ballot, and I need everybody to turn out,” Obama said Tuesday afternoon during an appearance on the Rev. Al Sharpton’s radio show.

And as Ace notes:

Notice he only says this for a black audience. Why? Because every Democratic candidate is running as hard as possible away from that idea. If the voters know that a vote for the Democrat is a vote for Obama’s agenda — as he says, and as is the case, of course– they’ll get an evisceratin’.

It is only the Democratic bulls*** that these are “individual races” and that each Democrat is independent of Obama and Pelosi that keeps these close at all.

So Obama: Why don’t you say this on tv to a general audience?

Take your 37 percent job approval and tell the whole country — not just the blacks who have a racial pride in, and emotional attachment to, you — that a vote for a Democrat is a vote for the Obama agenda.


But then, as Robert Gibbs tells GQ, “it’s hard to message 9.5 percent unemployment:”

President Obama, the finest orator-politician since Ronald Reagan*, has a communications problem. In less than two years in office, the man who talked himself out of obscurity and into the White House has managed to alienate both Wall Street and Main Street. Health care reform, initially hailed as a blockbuster legislative achievement, is now universally considered a political liability. Even his persona, once so crisp and inspiring, now comes off as murky, professorial, and insular—a foil for the fusillade of rage being broadcast daily from the far right.

Indeed, six years after convincing millions of rapt convention-watchers that “my story is part of the larger American story,” Obama is seen by many as playing for some team other than America’s. It may be true that, as Robert Gibbs told me, “it’s hard to message 9.5 percent unemployment,” but here’s another verity: When an activist president is seemingly credited for nothing and blamed for everything, he’s doing a lousy job of selling himself.

“It’s hard to message 9.5 percent unemployment” sounds like an update to George W. Bush’s “Message: I Care.” But then, when you’re reading your stage directions out loud, you’ve already lost the argument.


* As someone who actually read GQ back in the 1980s, this line is a hoot. Oh how they howled at him back then. But of course to liberals, the only good Republican is either a dead one, or one who’s out of office.

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