Ed Driscoll

Running On Empty

“Has Obama Learned Anything?” That’s the question that Peter Wehner is asking at Commentary: 

Being president seemed so easy before he actually was president. At the point he took the oath of office, the problems became harder to manage, more difficult, more intractable. “When I said, ‘Change we can believe in,’ I didn’t say, ‘Change we can believe in tomorrow,’ ” Obama told an audience last month. “Not, ‘Change we can believe in next week.’ We knew this was going to take time, because we’ve got this big, messy, tough democracy.”

Every person who runs for president, it’s fair to say, has a healthy ego. But Obama was different; the self-assurance, the arrogance, the sense that he viewed himself as a world-historical figure was almost palpable. “I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions,” Obama told congressional Democrats during the 2008 campaign. A convention speech wasn’t enough; Greek columns needed to be added. “Generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment,” Obama said – a moment when, among other achievements, “the rise of the oceans began to slow.” And during the campaign, while still a one-term senator, Obama decided he wanted to give a speech in Germany– and he wanted to deliver it at the Brandenburg Gate.

Yet now we see the Obama presidency coming apart, piece by piece, day by day. Democratic lawmakers are attacking the president on the record. The unhappiness in Obama’s own party toward the president might soon evolve into an open revolt. Those who supported Hillary Clinton in 2008 are saying, with some degree of self-satisfaction, “I told you so.” And the words of Solomon will be proven right again. “Pride goes before destruction,” he wrote in Proverbs, “a haughty spirit before a fall.”

If you dig beneath the rationalizations and the excuses, the field of strawmen, and the barrage of attacks on the motives of his opponents, one can only wonder: In his quiet moments, during times of self-reflection, has Obama –an educated and literate man — learned much of anything from all this?

That would be a distinct, “no,” Victor Davis Hanson writes. And thus, “Obama’s Quiver Is Empty:”

We can sense the national weariness with Obama in a variety of strange and unexpected ways. There is the self-pitying anguish of liberal columnists who scapegoat him for turning the public against their own leftwing agenda. The current silence of “moderate” Republicans and conservative op-ed writers who once in near ecstasy jumped ship to join Obama is deafening. A growing number of Democratic representatives and senators up for reelection do not want their partisan president to visit their districts in the runup to November 2012. Approval ratings hover around 40 percent.

Perhaps strangest of all, there is now a collective “Been there, done that” any time Barack Obama walks up to the podium to give yet another teleprompted speech. The speeches still are well delivered; he still has a way with the mannerisms and cadences. But even his critics pray for his sake that he does not come out with yet another embarrassing “Let me be perfectly clear,” “Make no mistake about it,” or “Let’s be honest” — as he goes back to bashing either the tired Bush bogeyman or yet another strawman Satanic reactionary who, if not for Barack Obama, supposedly would expose children to mercury, neglect roads and bridges, and finally dissolve government altogether. We have all heard ad nauseamthat an eight-month-old Republican-controlled Congress has stopped Obama’s legislative agenda for three years.

In truth, Obama is out of arrows. His quiver is bare, because he came into office as a rhetorical president without much experience or any ideas other than growing even bigger a tired big government. And now the public realizes that both the speeches and the big spending do not work. The result is that we collectively know what the president cannot any longer say — and it proves far greater than what he can say. He is well past the point of Jerry Ford’s WIN buttons or Jimmy Carter’s fist-pounding malaise speech.

How exhausted is Obama’s FDR-era playbook? Click over and allow VDH to count the ways.