Withholder in Chief
By MAUREEN DOWD
Even the Butter Cow at the
Three years ago, Barack Obama’s unlikely presidential dream was given wings by rapturous Iowans — young, old and in-between — who saw in the fresh-faced, silky-voiced black senator a chance to leap past the bellicose, rancorous Bush years into a modern, competitive future where we once more had luster in the world.
“We are choosing hope over fear,” Senator Obama told a delirious crowd of 3,000 here the night he won the
But fear has garroted hope, as
Faced with a country keening for reassurance and reinvention, Obama seems at a loss. Regarding his political skills, he turns out to be the odd case of a pragmatist who can’t learn from his mistakes and adapt.
Many of his Democratic supporters here, who once waited hours in line just to catch a glimpse of The One, are disillusioned.
“We just wish he’d be more of a fighter,” said one influential Democrat with a grimace. Another agreed: “You can’t blame him for everything. I just wish he would come across more forceful at times, but that is not the dude’s style. Detached hurts you when things are sour. You need some of
The president has been so spectacularly unable to fill the leadership void in
“The power behind our campaign is hope and a future,” she chirped to a sparse crowd Monday in
Obama’s response on Monday to Friday’s Standard & Poor’s downgrade and to the 22 Navy Seal commandos and 8 other soldiers killed by a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade in
Bachmann has been riding around Iowa in her bus, with Elvis music and her name emblazoned 25 times on the outside, mocking Obama for going to Camp David last weekend and burrowing in, while the country was roiling.
His inability to grab a microphone and spontaneously assuage Americans’ fears is strange. If the American servicemen had died on a Monday, he wouldn’t have waited until Wednesday to talk about it. He doesn’t like the bully pulpit, just the professor’s lectern.
After failing to interrupt his Camp David weekend to buck up the country on one of its worst days in history, he tacked on his condolences for the soldiers’ families to his economic pep talk, in what had to be the most inept oratorical segue of his presidency.
He long ago should have gone out into the country to talk to Americans in person and come up with a concrete plan that people could print out from the White House Web site and study. Hasn’t he learned how dangerous it is to delegate to Congress? His withholding and reactive nature has made him seem strangely irrelevant in
Speaking from the State Dining Room of the White House, he advised America it was still “a triple-A country” like some cerebral soccer coach urging the kids to win one for the London Interbank Offered Rate.
With traders hearing nothing new, just boilerplate about “common sense and compromise” on deficit reduction, the Dow Jones industrial average, which had already fallen 410 points, fell 20 more points while the president was talking around 2 o’clock. By the 4 p.m. close, the Dow was 634 points lower.
Obama has spent a lifetime creating his persona — superior, wise, above all parties and interests, all-seeing, calm, unflappable.
But as Drew Westen, a liberal psychology professor at
It’s unclear, Westen wrote, whether that reflects his aversion to conflict or a fear of offending donors, or both.
Obama’s assumption that you can rise above ascribing villainous motives has caused him to waste huge chunks of his first term seeking bipartisanship from Republicans who were playing him for a dupe. And it has led to Americans regarding the nation’s capital as a place of all villains and no heroes.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs