I didn’t get it that he just doesn’t get it.
It is safe to say, rather it is axiomatic, that when the President must clarify–read retract–on Saturday what he said on Friday he has really blown it.
Obama’s endorsement, backtracking aside, of the Mosque construction at ground zero is what they call in the tennis business–an unforced error.
Let’s us look at some basic facts and then I will attempt to answer the why. First, why weigh in on this topic at all? What could possibly be the upside? By large majorities, Americans are opposed to the building of a mosque at ground zero. They view it as a slap in the face and the addition of insult to injury.
By almost equal number Americans also understand the legal right for these insensitive jerks (or worse) to build a mosque wherever they wish. Americans are nuanced like that. They often recognize the legal right to act like a jerk yet still frown on the behavior.
So there is that. No upside. By endorsing the mosque, Obama came out in direct opposition to the expressed will of the American people. But here is the thing. Why? There was absolutely no need whatsoever for the President to ever weigh in on this issue, ever!. In fact, this issue has little to do with government at all and absolutely nothing to do with the federal government. This has absolutely zilch to do with Obama or the office of the president–in our minds at least.
The President went out of his way and out of his jurisdiction to oppose his constituency with no perceivable benefit. Worse, he adds this insult to the injury of months ago in bringing the terrorist trials, against the will of just about everyone, to downtown New York.
This is seemingly about as bad a political move as can be imagined. How is it that this president, who so masterfully tapped in the to spirit of the times in 2008, is so divorced from the zeitgeist of this moment?
What is the spirit of this age? I believe that many people are of the opinion that the only thing they like less than a mosque at ground zero is the government putting a stop to it. If there ever was a zeitgeist, today’s is simple. When it comes to government, MYOB. We got this.
When it comes to the recovery, many people believe that the government is the problem. Get out of the way, stop taxing us and regulating us to death. Mind your own business. We got this.
When it comes to health care, people recognize there are problems but also recognize that the government will only make things worse. Get out of the way. Let the market work. MYOB, we got this.
And when it comes to the mosque at ground zero, most people are not seeking government intervention to forestall something that they don’t want. This is because most people also recognize that if the government can say no to a mosque, they can say no to your Church. We would rather live with a mosque at ground zero than a government that believes it has the right to say no.
Mind your own business. Win or lose, we got this.
But here is the rub. The one core belief that President Obama seems to have is that we don’t got this. We are incapable of making decisions that are in our own best interests. Financially, practically, or politically. We need to be told what to do.
This is why Obama weighed in on this issue. He thought he had to. How else would we know what to think or to do? This is why, I think, that President Obama doesn’t get it. This is why the zeitgeist eludes him.
He can’t mind his own business because he never believes that the American people “got this.” A trouncing on election day will only serve to solidify the point in his mind. We are the problem. He is the solution.
So now I get it. The why. He will simply never get that we got it.