August 20, 2011

PEGGY NOONAN: The President’s Island Retreat: Is his visit to Martha’s Vineyard a sign that he’s giving up?

How could he not be depressed? He has made big mistakes since the beginning of his presidency and has been pounded since the beginning of his presidency. He’s got to be full of doubts at this point about what to do. His baseline political assumptions have proved incorrect, his calculations have turned out to be erroneous, his big decisions have turned to dust. He thought they’d love him for health care, that it was a down payment on greatness. But the left sees it as a sellout, the center as a vaguely threatening mess, the right as a rallying cry. He thought the stimulus would turn the economy around. It didn’t. He thought there would be a natural bounce-back a year ago, with “Recovery Summer.” There wasn’t. He thought a toe-to-toe, eyeball-to-eyeball struggle over the debt ceiling would enhance his reputation. The public would see through to the dark heart of Republican hackery and come to recognize the higher wisdom of his approach. That didn’t happen either.

Nothing worked! And nothing’s going to work. He’s the smartest guy in the room, but he’s got the reverse Midas touch. Everything he touches turns to—well, unsatisfying outcomes.

Indeed. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that Noonan was among those who expected great things from Obama.

UPDATE: Jim Treacher emails: “It’s also worth pointing out that Obama isn’t behaving any differently now than he did when Noonan thought he was wonderful. . . . The stuff they’re criticizing him for now is the same stuff we told them when they tried to sell us on him. And they’re acting like it never happened.”

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