During the 2008 campaign season, I marveled about the ability of the candidate and the campaign to stay ‘on message.’ For sure, the messages which candidate Obama offered were the zealously vague platitudes of hope and change, but it served as the perfect counterpoint to the frustrations most of had with the Bush administration. For many, John McCain embodied all the things we disliked about the Bush administration with fewer of its virtues. Hope and change were the right messages and they were delivered with monotonous effectiveness. With Obama, the candidate and the campaign got it and they stuck to it. And they won.
Baseball fans are all familiar with the tale of the rookie season and the sophomore jinx. A rookie pitcher breaks into the major league and he seems, during his first time through the league, to be virtually un-hitable. But then, as the seasoned professionals have seen him a few times, he is suddenly hitable. He loses the mystique and he struggles. Sometimes they fade away to obscurity unable to adapt and sometimes they expand and grow and find new ways to fool their opponents and stay on top of their game.
President Obama shows all the signs of the sophomore jinx and, for now, few signs of the adaptation and growth necessary for a long and successful career in the major leagues.
I watched this weekend as the President took some time from his umpteenth vacation to sit down with the usual suscepts to deal with message. (No, I didn’t spell that wrong)
First President Obama was asked about a poll which showed that one in five Americans questions whether he is a Christian. His answer reveals. “I can’t spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead.”
The question was about his faith, his answer about his birthplace and citizenship. Regardless of what that tells you, it tells me something bad about this President. This type of remark has become all too commonplace in the last 18 months. A diversion. And a bad one.
So much of what made Obama seem un-hitable just 20 months ago now makes him seem aloof and unconcerned. His ballyhooed coolness, an attribute which wowed wispy conservatives, has now made just about everyone post-oil-spill (even James Carville), either baffled or bitter. Coolness in the face of your hardship is virtue, coolness in the face of others’ hardship–vice.
Even the President’s storied speechifying now grates. In speech after speech, his robotic tones reveal nothing. Let me be clear–they are, like his teleprompter, utterly predictable. During the critical healthcare debate, Obama grudgingly deigned to discourse on the topic and when he did his dictatorial tone revealed his impatience with having to tell us stupid children the same thing over and over when what he really wants to say is “Because I said so..” The problem was never their plan, it was always our collective inability to perceive its greatness. “The election is over, John.”
In fact the only time that we see any truth, any realness in Obama is when he is being thin skinned.
This brings me to another comment of the President this weekend. Asked about the “Restoring Honor” rally, Obama dismissed it saying “It’s not surprising that someone like a Mr. Beck is able to stir up a certain portion of [the American people.]” Regardless of what you think of Mr. Beck, hundreds of thousands of people on the mall praying for the restoration of this country is a big deal. Why not say that you share some of their concerns? Is that too much to ask? Aloof does not even begin to describe it. The president only served to solidify the opinion that many Americans share. He doesn’t care.
This president will do what he wants and will ask our opinion only when he wants it. Apparently, this is government of the people and bye people. His is the imperial presidency that many have feared. Controlling of the people while remaining steadfastly remote from them. President Remote Control.
Absent from any of Obama’s action or rhetoric is the ability to adapt to new realities. Without such adaption in approach or rhetoric, the American people will see each pitch for its rookie season sameness. President Remote Control will reveal himself as a flash in the pan and John and Jane Q. will reluctantly conclude that it is time to cut our losses.
Back in 2008, Obama and his campaign understood that message matters. What he fails to understand is that in 2010, it still does.
August 30, 2010 at 1:18 pm
EJ Dionne wrote something very similar that I read in this morning's paper. Except in a much more Obama-butt-kissy-way.
August 30, 2010 at 1:39 pm
I don't disagree with what you say, but, to be fair, Pres. Obama has spent less time on vacation than Pres. George W. Bush had by this point in his term. I don't miss GWB any more than I'll miss BHO when our next president is handed to us.
Don't blame me–I voted for Kodos!
August 30, 2010 at 2:06 pm
You may need to define what constitutes a "vacation". Pres. Bush went to Crawford very frequently, but they were not strictly vacations, per se. He just preferred to work from there.
I think what is more relevant, is that Obama has been preaching frugality to the American people. Encouraging them to give up their expensive vacations, while he and his family laugh it up in luxury. I think many of us wouldn't have such a beef with his vacation time, if he weren't so ready to ask us to give up ours.
August 30, 2010 at 2:19 pm
In this house, vacation is a trip to India, or Mexico, or Malaysia, looking for work. With the economy in the tank, and the need for funds to pay the mortgage, vacation is a thing of the distant past. We, the middle American self-employed are hanging by a thread while the fiddler fiddles in the WH.
August 30, 2010 at 3:21 pm
you might check the liberal media about BO's vacations. When even they are in awe of the extravegant vacations he and his family take, well, that should give you a clue. And they are keeping a count. Bush, who I am not a fan of, did not "live it up" like the present first family. It seems they are milking it for all they can get.
August 30, 2010 at 3:35 pm
The message from all the extravagant vacations is "let them eat cake."
On the religion question I must say that I am amazed that Obama has not made a shallow photo-op event to cover it (i.e. showing up for a worship service somewhere every now and then). His advisers must have told him to do that by now.
August 30, 2010 at 3:45 pm
What I never understood during the campaign was that people seemed to be so taken in by the charisma, and so selective in what they heard.
The change promised was never defined. Change to what? That was the question, and no one in the media, nor in the multitudes entranced by Obama, seemed to find any need to ask.
Even the pundits–some of them as hard-nosed and experienced as James Carville–overlooked the clear message of socialism which was in Obama's every speech. They overlooked, too, his arrogance, which was glaringly obvious, in my view.
Progressives (party is not the issue, ideology is) have worked consistently for over 100 years to bring us to this grim condition in which we now find ourselves. They have settled for incremental victories, but give them their due–they have not wavered.
Obama cannot, nor could anyone, spend all his time with his birth certificate plastered to his forehead. But this is again an obvious deflection. We've yet to see his birth certificate. And yes, it does matter. The Constitution matters. Violating it is what has left us where we are.
Yes, he's aloof, but he was during his campaign. The real change is that people are no longer entranced. He is unfeeling, but compared to Michelle, he's the epitome of warmth.
Obama sees himself as our ruler, not our leader. His arrogance will allow no other role. This president has never wanted our opinion. When he does, he will tell us what it is.
The problem now is that to restore America, we need to flush the progressives from both houses, and field a large number of real conservatives. These must then do what they have never done before: focus on repealing all the legislation passed since Obama took office, and repeal it over Obama's vetoes. And then, they must embark on another voyage for which they have no experience: hard-core spending cuts, deep cuts.
I pray for our nation, but I hold barely a glimmer of hope.
August 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm
While in IL, Obama argued that it was perfectly acceptable to allow children who were not killed during an abortion and subsequently living outside the womb, to be left alone to die. Think about that. Really think. Now, why does it surprise you that he doesn’t seem to care about anyone but himself?
August 30, 2010 at 5:29 pm
I've said it several times already; I don't think Obama is Christian, however he is definitely not Mohammedan (people who think this are both ingorant about Mohammedanism and I would suspect about things in general). His response was poingant and yes, slightly evasive. I took it to mean, "no matter what I say, certain people are still going to believe what they want about this or any other topic regarding my life anyway." I personally believe he is an atheist, as all signs would point in this particular direction. The fact is that here in the US, a presidential candidate can say he was a womanizer and a drug-user…but you still can't say you're an atheist. That's still a no-no.
August 30, 2010 at 7:44 pm
Obama doesn't have to ask us to give up vacations…. unemployment has made it impossible to justify any unnecessary expense in favor of paying the bills…. but I doubt he cares as he jaunts off to the next round of golf.
August 30, 2010 at 9:47 pm
@Bill Amen! You're spot on! I would only add that we need to place term limits to prohibit "career politicians", and that we need to cap their salaries, so that the real PUBLIC SERVANTS shine through, rather than those who just want a high paying job to spend our money.
@ Early Riser I would agree with you about Obama's atheism. Everyone and anyone who believes in abortion is a practical atheist anyway. And he's for infanticide. That ties in with the Archbold article here a couple days ago about whether or not your caretaker believes in God. Couldn't that be true for the President?
How did Michelle and Barack finance their vacations? Well…They're millionaires. I know they opted for public financing (in other words, I know my kids are going to pay for that recent trip to Spain). But my point is this: Michelle and B.O. want to stay rich and in order to that, they have to keep their cronies happy, and that means spending more of my kids money on these terrible schemes disguised as bailouts…Yuck! I'm more sickened by that, than their choice to take time off from it!
August 30, 2010 at 11:58 pm
Patty – good point. An atheist has no qualms about abortion, because there is no soul on the part of the perpetrator or the victim in that mindset. Nor is there any reason for responsibility or commitment to the next generation.
If an asteroid hit the earth wiping out the population, for an atheist so be it. There is no reason humans should be populating the earth any more or less than any other species. Hence population control (to make sure the atheist doesn't have to compromise on resources during his/her lifetime).
Atheism really is a driving force behind so much public policy, it's actually a "through the looking-glass" type eye-opener.
August 31, 2010 at 1:59 pm
Early Riser, I feel more like there's a culture war raging in our country. Either we're going to remain a "Nation under God" or we're going entirely pagan. The biggest sign to me that we're headed for the worst? Homosexuality was only able to fluorish in a pagan society. Despite those wasted bumper stickers, only one philosophy/theology will endure: paganism or Christianity…