Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dowd Puts Obama on the Analyst's Couch

Here is the start of an excellent NY Times op-ed by Maureen Dowd:
Barack Obama became president by brilliantly telling his own story. To stay president, he will need to show he can understand our story.

At first it was exciting that Obama was the sort of brainy, cultivated Democrat who would be at home in a “West Wing” episode.

But now he acts like he really thinks he’s on “West Wing,” gliding through an imaginary, amber-lit set where his righteous self-regard is bound to be rewarded by the end of the hour.

Hey, dude, you’re a politician. Act like one.

As the head of the Democratic Party, the president should have supported the Democratic candidate for governor in Rhode Island, the one the Democratic Governors Association had already lavished more than $1 million in TV ads on. If Obama was going to refuse to endorse Frank Caprio out of respect for Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican who endorsed him for president and is now running as an independent, the president should have at least stayed out of Providence.

Reductio ad absurdum: After two years of taking his base for granted, the former Pied Piper of America’s youth had to spar with Jon Stewart to try to get the attention of young people who once idolized him.

Obama still has the killer smile, but he’s more often sniffy than funny. When Stewart called White House legislation “timid,” Obama got defensive and offered a less-than-thrilling new mantra: “Yes, we can but ...”

“We have done things that people don’t even know about,” said Obama, who left his Great Communicator mantle back in Grant Park on election night.

In 2008, the message was him. The promise was him. And that’s why 2010 is a referendum on him.

With his coalition and governing majority shattering around him, President Obama will have to summon political skills — starting Wednesday — that he has not yet shown he has.
She goes on to discuss why the hero has feet of clay, and why he needs to "shape up" and become a real politicians if he isn't going to fritter away the two remaining years of his presidency. She's spot on in many of her analyses:
We want the best people to govern us, but many voters are so turned off by Obama’s superior air that they’re rushing into the arms of disturbingly inferior pols.


His inner circle believed too much in the power of the Aura and in protecting the Brand. They didn’t think they needed to sell anything or fight back when the crazies started sliming them. They didn’t care that the average citizen needed an M.B.A. to understand the financial plan and a Ph.D. to fathom what the health care plan would mean.

Because Obama stayed above it all on health care and delegated to Max Baucus, he missed the moment in August of 2009 when Sarah Palin and the Tea Party got oxygen with their loopy rants on death panels. It never occurred to the Icon that such wildness and gullibility would trump lofty rationality.
My bet is that he will fritter away his two remaining years. It is pretty clear to me that his flaws are flaws deep in his personality. He simply can't lead, he can't stand the thrust & parry of politics, he has a disdain for the hard work of partisanship. The jokes by Republicans that he ran a campaign in 2008 of being "the one" now appear to have merit. I now understand what they were saying. There is a big flaw in Obama's character. He's led a charmed life of always winning over others to his way. But he is in a situation where charm won't win the fight. He has to get in the trenches. But he disdains the grimy reality of struggle for a political ideal.

I see America as leaderless for 2 years. Then there will be two titanic battles. First, some champion will have to come forward and slay Obama. It is hard taking down an incumbent. Then that new leader will have to take on the Republican machine. That is a very hard task.

In short, the future looks very grim for the US.

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