recognize his greatness.
I don't know if we sufficiently understand how weird and strange, how
historically unparalleled, this presidency has become. We've got a sitting
president who was just judged in a major poll to be the worst since World
War II. The worst president in 70 years! Quinnipiac University 's respondents
also said, by 54% to 44%, that the Obama administration is not competent to
run the government. A Zogby Analytics survey asked if respondents are proud
or ashamed of the president. Those under 50 were proud, while those over 50,
who have of course the longest experienced sense of American history, were
stewardship and, in the case of the IRS, destructive political mischief. The
president's signature legislation, which popularly bears his name and
contains within it the heart of his political meaning, continues to wreak
havoc in marketplaces and to be unpopular with the public. He is incapable
of working with Congress, the worst at this crucial aspect of the job since
Jimmy Carter, though Mr. Carter at least could work with the Mideast and
produced the Camp David Accords. Mr. Obama has no regard for Republicans and
doesn't like to be with Democrats. Internationally, small states that have
traditionally been the locus of trouble (the Mideast ) are producing more of
it, while large states that have been more stable in their actions ( Russia ,
China ) are newly, starkly aggressive.
That's a long way of saying nothing's working.
Which I'm sure you've noticed.
president is responding to the lack of success around him. He once seemed a
serious man. He wrote books, lectured on the Constitution. Now he seems
unserious, frivolous, shallow. He hangs with celebrities, plays golf. His
references to Congress are merely sarcastic: "So sue me." "They don't do
anything except block me. And call me names. It can't be that much fun."
Jennifer Epstein interviewed many around the president and reported a
general feeling that events have left him-well, changed. He is "taking
fuller advantage of the perquisites of office," such as hosting
"star-studded dinners that sometimes go on well past midnight." He travels,
leaving the White House more in the first half of 2014 than any other time
of his presidency except his re-election year. He enjoys talking to athletes
and celebrities, not grubby politicians, even members of his own party. He
is above it all.
"interesting Italians." They were wealthy, famous. The dinner went for four
hours. The next morning his staff were briefing him for a "60 Minutes"
interview about Ukraine and health care. "One aide paraphrased Obama's
response: 'Just last night I was talking about life and art, big interesting
things, and now we're back to the minuscule things on politics.' ''
Minuscule? Politics is his job.
When the crisis in Ukraine escalated in March, White House aides wondered if
Mr. Obama should cancel a planned weekend golf getaway in Florida . He went.
At the "lush Ocean Reef Club," he reportedly told his dinner companions: "I
needed this. I needed the golf. I needed to laugh. I needed to spend time
You get the impression his needs are pretty important in his hierarchy of
This is a president with 2-1/2 years to go who shows every sign of running out
the clock. Normally in a game you run out the clock when you're winning.
He's running it out when he's losing.
overwhelmingly concerned and anxious at his predicaments or challenges.
Every president before him would have been. They'd be questioning what
they're doing wrong, changing tack. They'd be ordering frantic aides to meet
and come up with what to change, how to change it, how to find common ground
not only with Congress but with the electorate.
Instead he seems disinterested, disengaged almost to the point of
disembodied. He is fatalistic, passive, minimalist. He talks about hitting
"singles" and "doubles" in foreign policy.
"The world seems to disappoint him," says the New Yorker's liberal and
sympathetic editor, David Remnick.
disappointed when it, and its players, act aggressively or foolishly?
Presidents aren't supposed to have those illusions, and they're not supposed
to check out psychologically when their illusions are shattered.
Barack Obama doesn't seem to care about his unpopularity, or the decisions
he's made that have not turned out well. He doesn't seem concerned. A guess
at the reason: He thinks he is right about his essential policies. He is
steering the world toward not relying on America . He is steering America
toward greater dependence on and allegiance to government. He is creating a
more federally controlled, Washington-centric nation that is run and
organized by progressives. He thinks he's done his work, set America on a
leftward course, and though his poll numbers are down now, history will look
back on him and see him as heroic, realistic, using his phone and pen each
day in spite of unprecedented resistance. He is Lincoln , scorned in his time
but loved by history.
He thinks he is in line with the arc of history, that America , for all its
stops and starts, for all the recent Supreme Court rulings, has embarked in
the long term on governmental and cultural progressivism. Thus in time
history will have the wisdom to look back and see him for what he really
was: the great one who took every sling and arrow, who endured rising
unpopularity, the first black president and the only one made to suffer like
get its act together and see his true size.
It made a great impression on him, that movie. He told Time magazine, and
Mr. Remnick, how much it struck him. President Lincoln of course had been
badly abused in his time. Now his greatness is universally acknowledged. But
if Mr. Obama read more of Lincoln , he might notice Lincoln 's modesty, his
plain ways, his willingness every day to work and negotiate with all who
opposed him, from radical abolitionists who thought him too slow to
supporters of a negotiated peace who thought him too martial. Lincoln showed
respect for others. Those who loved him and worked for him thought he showed
too much. He was witty and comical but not frivolous and never shallow. He
didn't say, "So sue me." He never gave up trying to reach agreement and
diligently covering this White House, especially those for whom it is their
first, think what they're seeing is normal.
It is not. It is unprecedented and deeply strange. And, because the world is
watching and calculating, unbelievably dangerous.
Well, I'll try to be nice... but with my fingers twitching to cross and my eyes watering ...
"Welcome back to the Right Side of sanity, Peggy. RB
A truck-load of Democrat Legislators
were seen this week leaving D.C.