Two months in and things in Obama-land don't look so good. All that hype about hope and change looks empty as the reality of governing demands more than sloganeering or a working teleprompter.
It seems every week more and more people recover from the hopey-changey hangover. The latest in this homecoming to sanity is Peggy Noonan, who went off the reservation before the last election but is now returning.
Readers may recall how dear Peggy gushed only a few short months ago on November 28 when she wrote:
Mr. Obama's cabinet picks and other nominations suggest moderation, also maturity, and his treatment of Joe Lieberman shows forbearance and shrewdness. Politics is a game of addition, take the long view, don't throw anyone out as you try to hit 60.What a laugh riot! And now, on March 20th:
He is willowy when people yearn for solid, reed-like where they hope for substantial, a bright older brother when they want Papa, cool where they probably prefer warmth.For the Record: Peggy, I told you so!
These are the two great issues, the economic crisis and our safety. In the face of them, what strikes one is the weightlessness of the Obama administration, the jumping from issue to issue and venue to venue from day to day. Isaiah Berlin famously suggested a leader is a fox or a hedgehog. The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing. In political leadership the hedgehog has certain significant advantages, focus and clarity of vision among them. Most presidents are one or the other. So far Mr. Obama seems neither.
Many of us warned the risk America would take if it elected the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate to the presidency. A man without any prior qualifications or experience for the office and one whose association with radicals offered us the only glimpse into who and what he truly is.
Obama dismissed all those points by claiming we were out to scare the American people:
"What they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He's risky." --Barack Obama, August 1, 2008What a brilliant campaign ploy that was. What a shame the man can't govern like he campaigned.
But it's clear that Obama is NOT a centrist. All those moderates and so-called conservatives had a rude awakening as they realize they were fooled and the rest of us who warned them time and time again were right.
Sometimes it takes someone with a bit of distance from the scene to understand what is really going on. David Warren, a Canadian columnist writes with his perspective:
[Obama] is a free soul, but he is also the product of environments in which even moderately conservative ideas are never considered; but where people on the further reaches of the left are automatically welcomed as "avant-garde." His whole idea of where the middle might be, is well to the left of where the average American might think it is. To a man like Obama, as he has let slip on too many occasions when away from his teleprompter, "Middle America" is not something to be compromised with, but rather, something that must be manipulated, because it is stupid. And the proof that it can be manipulated, is that he is the president today.46 months remain of what may be the first and only term of the Obama-Biden aberration. The quicker voters wake up to the fact they were conned the better we can contain the damage.
It is at this point that the phenomenon known as "too clever by half" sets in. Technically, it is indistinguishable from arrogance and hubris, but it is unnecessary to stress the point. Sixty days into his first term (and I begin to doubt there'll be a second), he would seem already to have dug a hole from which no rhetorical skill can lift him.
Congressional elections in 2010 are approximately 20 months away. The time to organize at the local level, recruit and support candidates for both House and Senate is now! Stop complaining. Get involved and make a difference!