Monday, November 08, 2010

The Thrill Is Gone

It's such a shame when relationships grow stale.  But it was bound to happen after so many years of married bliss.... wait, he's only been President for two years?  Well, we know 50% of marriages end in divorce...
He came across as a young man in a grown-up's game—impressive but not presidential. A politician but not a leader, managing American policy at home and American power abroad with disturbing amateurishness. Indeed, there was a growing perception of the inability to run the machinery of government and to find the right people to manage it. A man who was once seen as a talented and even charismatic rhetorician is now seen as lacking real experience or even the ability to stop America's decline. "Yes we can," he once said, but now America asks, "Can he?"

The last two years have exposed to the public the risk that came with voting an inexperienced politician into office at a time when there was a crisis in America's economy, as the nation contended with a financial freeze, a painful recession, and two wars. The Democrats were simply not aggressive enough or focused enough in confronting the profound economic crisis represented by millions of ordinary Americans whose main concern was the lack of jobs.

Jobs have long represented the stairway to upward mobility in America, and the anxiety over joblessness became the dominant concern at a time when financial security based on home equity and pensions was dramatically eroding. No great speech is going to change the fundamental fact that millions of people are either jobless or underemployed at a time when only a quarter of the American population describes the job market as good.
Zuckerman is a liberal, so he's forgiven for buying the BS that was sold in 2008.  But he isn't the only one who's feeling a bit pained, as erstwhile conservatives who once admired this President are now coming down on him like a load of bricks. Peggy Noonan eviscerates the President...
On Wednesday, President Obama gave a news conference to share his thoughts. Viewers would have found it disappointing if there had been any viewers. The president is speaking, in effect, to an empty room. From my notes five minutes in: "This wet blanket, this occupier of the least interesting corner of the faculty lounge, this joy-free zone, this inert gas." By the end I was certain he will never produce a successful stimulus because he is a human depression.

Actually I thought the worst thing you can say about a president: He won't even make a good former president.

His detachment is so great, it is even from himself. As he spoke, he seemed to be narrating from a remove. It was like hearing the audiobook of Volume I of his presidential memoirs. "Obama was frustrated. He honestly didn't understand what the country was doing. It was as if they had compulsive hand-washing disorder. In '08 they washed off Bush. Now they're washing off Obama. There he is, swirling down the drain! It's all too dramatic, too polar. The morning after the election it occurred to him: maybe he should take strong action. Maybe he should fire America! They did well in 2008, but since then they've been slipping. They weren't giving him the followership he needed. But that wouldn't work, they'd only complain. He had to keep his cool. His aides kept telling him, 'Show humility.' But they never told him what humility looked like. What was he supposed to do, burst into tears and say hit me? Not knowing how to feel humility or therefore show humility he decided to announce humility: He found the election 'humbling,' he said."
Thanks, Peggy. To quote Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer, "Once again, things that could've been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!" In fact Noonan does a nice job warning the Tea Party and its GOP adherents about the dangers of candidates whom the broader electorate might view as unqualified, with a big arrow pointing to Sarah Palin.

Well, where the hell was that warning in 2008?

Listen, on the issue of Sarah Palin, there are all sorts of issues related to her and 2012 and whether she should be the GOP nominee or not.  But going back to 2008, I'm still appalled by people who believed that Obama was qualified and able to handle the job of President, yet were distressed by the prospect that Palin might someday ascend to the job were something to happen to John McCain.

I think it's perfectly reasonable to conclude that Obama might have the chops to handle the job, but I would have enjoyed someone providing some evidence to back up that conclusion.  Recall that part of the case for excusing his lack of executive experience was the inane claim that he was doing a fine job helming a Presidential campaign.  Yes, I know he graduated from Harvard Law School (based on the author of this blog, that's not exactly an impressive achievement), was a community organizer (so are Boy Scouts), state Senator (good prep work for Illinois politics), and served in the U.S. Senate for less than one term.  But no one worried that the guy they were electing to the office of President had arguably the same level of experience and qualifications (if not less) than the VP candidate on the other ticket that everyone derided.  Hell, part of the reason Joe Biden was viewed as a good pick for the ticket was that he lent the ticket gravitas.  What does it say when you're bringing Joe Biden in to impress people that you're up to a job?

No, the real reason President Obama passed the test with Washington's elite is that he was one of them, whereas Palin was not.  He backed that up with much of the rest of America by giving pretty speeches and coming along at the right time.  And now we're paying the price for treating the 2008 Presidential election with the same level of careful examination as high school kids do when picking a yearbook editor.

By the way, on Noonan's last point... I don't watch Mad Men, despite hearty recommondations that I do so from people I trust.  But I think I understand what Instapundit and others are saying when they refer to this as the "Don Draper Presidency."  I'm just wondering how this show will end.

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