Ed Driscoll

When You've Lost Maureen Dowd...

…You’ve lost yet another midtown-Manhattan rube who drank deep the Kool-Aid in 2008:

On Friday, an ugly job market report led to the stock market’s worst day of the year. As the recovery flat-lined, the president conceded to a crowd at a Honeywell factory in Golden Valley, Minn., that “our economy is still facing some serious headwinds” and getting sucked further into Europe’s sinkhole. In depressing imagery for the start of the summer campaign, cable channels carried the red Dow arrow pointing down while Obama spoke; the Dow wiped out all of its 2012 gains.

The president who started off with such dazzle now seems incapable of stimulating either the economy or the voters. His campaign is offering Obama 2012 car magnets for a donation of $10; cat collars reading “I Meow for Michelle” for $12; an Obama grill spatula for $40, and discounted hoodies and T-shirts. How the mighty have fallen.

Once glowing, his press is now burning. “To a very real degree, 2008’s candidate of hope stands poised to become 2012’s candidate of fear,” John Heilemann wrote in New York magazine, noting that because Obama feels he can’t run on his record, his campaign will resort to nuking Romney.

In his new book, “A Nation of Wusses,” the Democrat Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania, wonders how “the best communicator in campaign history” lost his touch.

The legendary speaker who drew campaign crowds in the tens of thousands and inspired a dispirited nation ended up nonchalantly delegating to a pork-happy Congress, disdaining the bully pulpit, neglecting to do any L.B.J.-style grunt work with Congress and the American public, and ceding control of his narrative.

As president, Obama has never felt the need to explain or sell his signature pieces of legislation — the stimulus and health care bills — or stanch the flow of false information from the other side.

“The administration lost the communications war with disastrous consequences that played out on Election Day 2010,” Rendell writes, and Obama never got credit for the two pieces of legislation where he reached for greatness.

The president had lofty dreams of playing the great convener and conciliator. But at a fund-raiser in Minneapolis, he admitted he’s just another combatant in a capital full of Hatfields and McCoys. No compromises, just nihilism.

Wow, a Chicago machine hack politician with enough identity shifts and name changes to make Don Draper seem like a model citizen, who’s chums with a former terrorist and a racist pastor right out of Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic and who nonchalantly admits to eating dogs in his(?) autobiography is a nihilist who’s only in it for himself. Who saw that coming?

(Almost half the country, as it turns out. I suspect that number will “grow” even larger in the coming years, as former Obama voters in 2008 slowly begin to do a reverse Pauline Kael on the man: Barack Obama? Nobody I knew voted for him…)

On the other hand, as with former Timesman Frank Rich having a nervous breakdown over “the GOP Stalinists,” at last, a Times writer sounds uncomfortable with the concept of nihilism. That’s a minor bit of progress for the Gray Lady, I suppose.

Or maybe not; after searching the archives, I found that I wrote a similar passage as the last sentence when a similarly confused and frustrated MoDo called prominent Republican women such as Jan Brewer, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin nihilists back in October 2010. Can one be a God-fearing nihilist? But that won’t stop anyone associated with the New York Times. In his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language, George Orwell defined fascism as a word having “no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’.” Apparently the same definition applies to a Timesperson who uses nihilism as a pejorative.

Update: Welcome those readers clicking in from the “Morning Jolt” daily email of Jim Geraghty of National Review Online’s Campaign Spot.