Tom Maguire finds the funny in James Taranto’s takedown of Jon Chait’s Obama-as-HCR summit-Cicero puff piece.
I think maybe Mr. Taranto is being a bit unfair here. After all, on his side Chait’s Great Communicator only had the White House bully pulpit, Congressional chairman, leading academics, and NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, the NY Times, and the LA Times. Sarah Palin had a Facebook page, Glenn Beck had a television show, and Rush Limbaugh had a radio show, so really – how could Obama hope to break through?
I’ve always been puzzled by Obama’s oratory genius. I mean, isn’t communicating his message arguably the most important responsibility a President has? Until something truly exceptional happens, isn’t this speaking well just part of the gig?
A healthy dose of Bush fatigue, an economy in freefall, and a general desire for “Change” with a healthy pinch of “Hope” helped to deliver Obama to the White House. Democrats controlled the House and Senate. A new era was upon us.
In the year since putting his hand on the Good Book and delivering his oath of office, Obama has generally forgone lots of Hopenchange and, y’know, actually governing to undertake a psychological study in vanity, arrogance, and general dementia.
Since January of 2009, we’ve heard Barack say many times that “elections matter” and that he’s the President. It’s also Bush’s fault, the mess was inherited, Republicans cause gridlock, and so on.
But we’ve actually yet to see Obama actually deliver… well, anything that he promised you.
Health care? We’re in “summit” mode now, with Dems likely facing a lame duck cramdown of whatever policies they can scramble together after November of 2010. They could have owned this son-uva-gun over the summer, but decided to illustrate for the American public the exact reason why we’ve always considered them a bunch of hand wringing ninnies.
Jobs? Jobs are the bridge that were washed out by the stream, and Joe-Joe Biden’s bridge contractor has yet to show up. (But you can be damn sure that Obama and Biden could line you up with a bridge!)
Wall Street bonuses and golden parachutes and other wicked by-products of capitalism? Shee-it, them dudes is still wicked rich.
Guantanamo? Still open. (ed. Thankfully!)
The war in Iraq? Still on. (ed. Thankfully.)
Iran? Still crazy.
North Korea. Still crazy.
Hugo Chavez? Obama doesn’t even want to be in the same room with the man after getting his face slapped to start off his Presidency.
The era of International Kumbaya that was to follow the January swearing in? After Barack Obama led America back to her rightful levels of respect around the world, beloved by her allies and Euros with a squishy left-of-center? Ha-ha! Dude hasn’t given a formal press conference for 215+ days (if you don’t count his HCR “summit,” and I don’t).
In fact, nearly every International summit has found Obama bowing to everything besides the kitchen pantry.
Until Barack Obama can convince America — publicly! — that his Administration is simply not the do nothing, graft-prone, seedy underbelly of Chicago Machine politics that we’re starting to see and believe it is, Jon Chait’s argument that he’s a Reagan-esque “Great Communicator” is enough to make me recycle some of this cup of coffee shop White Russian right through my nostrils.
Considering that we elected a junior Senator from Illinois to the Presidency despite his lack of record, I’m not terribly surprised that he’s as feeble as he is. What surprises me is that he’s walking and talking like a lame duck nearly 400 days into his Presidency.
Every era of politics deserves a delightfully stupid deviation from reality, I suppose. A “novelty Presidency,” if you will. Jimmy Carter, the first year of Clinton’s first term, and so on. So let’s grin and bear this one, and then remind ourselves to nominate substance over style next time.