Why Are We Tiring of Obama?

The China Presidency

I have an heirloom china pitcher on my mantle that has dozens of glued cracks—so much so that it is now purely ornamental and will not hold water. When I was a boy I’d ask my mother when, and under what circumstances, did the china crack apart.

She would provide stories about each fissure and mend, many of the break narratives handed down to her from her own grandparents in the house. There wasn’t one single accident, but instead dozens that rendered a once useful pitcher into an non-functional art object.

Something of the same is happening with our President. He is experiencing the sharpest popularity decline in the history of first-year administrations. The problem is not just that he inherited a bad economy; Reagan did too. Or that the war in Afghanistan heats up, since it is not nearly as bad as the mess Nixon inherited in Vietnam.

Instead, after 11 months there has emerged a series of bothersome incidents that the public has come to associate with Obama, both the man and his philosophies. Some are major policy issues; others trivial acts of no cosmic importance. None in themselves matter all that much. Each gaffe or mistake was contextualized and mended, or attended to by Robert Gibbs. Some are Obama’s fault; others the work of associates. Sometimes mere chance is the culprit.

I know Bush had his own list of catastrophes; other Presidents did as well. Again, my point is not trying to adjudicate relative culpability, but rather just to remind us all how and why Obama dived over 20 points in the polls in just 11 months—and his speeches transformed from inspirational to caricatures.

In short,  taken together, after nearly a year, these fissures have nearly ruined the once pretty texture of the Obama administration, and almost rendered it incapable of effective governance.

Here is a random selection. I provide no chronology or theme. Nor do I judge the relative importance of any one incident. The point, again, is only that each was a fissure, some small, some major—all were glued over. The result is that now the public understands that its china presidency is fragile and held together by mere glue.

Here it goes:

Constant apologies abroad for everything from slavery to Hiroshima

Bows to Saudi royalty, the Japanese emperor, and Chinese autocrats

The on-again/off-again Guantanamo shut-down mess

The fight with the former CIA directors

The public show trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed

The reach out to Ahmadinejad Castro, Chavez, and assorted thugs

The Honduras fiasco

Czars everywhere

The serial “Bush did it”/reset whine abroad

The Queen of England/I-pod fiasco

Gordon Brown gets snookered in his gift-giving

Unceremoniously shipping back the Churchill bust

The end of the special relationship with the UK

The New York on-the-town presidential splurge

Anita Dunn and her Mao worship

Timothy Geithner/Tom Daschle/Hilda Solis and their taxes

What ever happened to Gov. Richardson?

“No lobbyists” = gads of them

The Podestas' insider influence-peddling empire

Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” chauvinism

The Special Olympics silly quip

Trashing Nancy Reagan

The Skip Gates/police acting “stupidly” mess