The New York Times today adds yet another installment in my series "what went wrong" with the Obama presidency by focusing the blame on chief strategist David Axelrod. Good old David, who just loves Obama a little too much is under fire for not doing a better job directing the President. Axelrod's response was combative and so typical of the denial of reality which grips the Obama White House:
In an interview in his office, Mr. Axelrod was often defiant, saying he did not give a “flying” expletive “about what the peanut gallery thinks” and did not live for the approval “of the political community.”That "peanut gallery" includes the many wise and experienced sages who have watched with horror as the promise of Obama's campaign turned into the sour train wreck we see daily. One of those sages, who got caught up in Obama hype was former Reagan speechwriter and columnist Peggy Noonan.
Peggy went from praising Obama early on to this:
What a Disaster Looks LikePeggy, I'd say there was a fourth reason Republican won't be standing next to Obama while he tries to ram this through. The past year he has spurned every appeal from GOP leaders for a fair process that would incorporate their ideas. Remember when he told one GOP congressman early in his Administration "I won?" All he offered in his latest proposal was a window dressing of compromise. Every large legislative change, such as Medicare and Social Security were accomplished with broad bipartisan support. But Obama has made it clear it's largely his way or the highway.
ObamaCare will have been a colossal waste of time—if we’re lucky.
The Wall Street Journal
March 4, 2010
It is now exactly a year since President Obama unveiled his health care push and his decision to devote his inaugural year to it—his branding year, his first, vivid year.
What a disaster it has been.
At best it was a waste of history’s time, a struggle that will not in the end yield something big and helpful but will in fact make future progress more difficult. At worst it may prove to have fatally undermined a new presidency at a time when America desperately needs a successful one.
In terms of policy, his essential mistake was to choose health-care expansion over health-care reform. This at the exact moment voters were growing more anxious about the cost and reach of government. The practical mistake was that he did not include or envelop congressional Republicans from the outset, but handed the bill’s creation over to a Democratic Congress that was becoming a runaway train. This at the exact moment Americans were coming to be concerned that Washington was broken, incapable of progress, frozen in partisanship.
Why, in 2009, create a new crisis over an important but secondary issue when we already have the Great Recession and two wars? Prudence and soundness of judgment are more greatly needed at the moment.
New presidents should never, ever, court any problem that isn’t already banging at the door. They should never summon trouble. Mr. Obama did, boldly, perhaps even madly. And this is perhaps the oddest thing about No Drama Obama: In his first year as president he created unneeded political drama, and wound up seen by many Americans not as the hero but the villain.
In Washington among sympathetic political hands (actually, most of them sound formerly sympathetic) you hear the word “intervention,” as in: “So-and-so tried an intervention with the president and it didn’t work.” So-and-so tried to tell him he’s in trouble with the public and must moderate, recalibrate, back off from health care. The end of the story is always that so-and-so got nowhere. David Gergen a few weeks ago told the Financial Times the administration puts him in mind of the old joke: “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one. But the lightbulb must want to change. I don’t think President Obama wants to make any changes.”
What accounts for Mr. Obama’s confidence and certainty?
Well, if you were a young progressive who’d won the presidency by a comfortable margin in a center-right country, you just might think you were a genius. You might not be surprised to find yourself surrounded by a cultish admiration: “They see him as a fabled figure,” said a frequent White House visitor of some on the president’s staff.
The president can’t be a hope purveyor while he’s a doom merchant, and he appears to believe he has to be a doom merchant to justify ramming through his legislation. This particular legislation is not worth that particular price.
All this contributes to a second problem, which is a growing credibility gap. In his speech Wednesday, demanding an “up or down” vote, the president seemed convinced and committed—but nothing he said sounded true. His bill will “bring down the cost of health care for millions,” it is “fully paid for,” it will lower the long term deficit by a trillion dollars.
Does anyone believe this? Does anyone who knows the ways of government, the compulsions of Congress, and how history has played out in the past, believe this? Even a little?
The only thing that might make his assertions sound believable now is if a group of congressional Republicans were standing next to him on the podium and putting forward a bill right along with him. Which, obviously, won’t happen, for three reasons. First, they enjoy his discomfort. Second, they believe the bill is not worth saving, that at this point no matter what it contains—and at this point most people can no longer retain in their heads what it contains—it has been fatally tainted by the past year of mistakes and inadequacies.
And the third reason is that the past decade has taught them what a disaster looks like, and they’ve lost their taste for standing next to one.
And one last point: Peggy asks if anyone believes Obama Care will be the fiscally responsible program Obama claims it will. There were plenty of people who were willing to believe the promises Obama made during the campaign. They've now had over a year to see who and what Obama really is. Like Peggy, many of them have had their eyes opened. That's why his approval rating continues to drop and why a majority in a recent CNN poll say they wouldn't vote to re-elect him.
What a shame they didn't see through the charade before they voted for this train wreck of a presidency!