"He doesn’t like the bully pulpit, just the professor’s lectern," states our friend and colleague at the NYT, as usual, simply, cogently, putting context to a dominant perplexing national conundrum. In stark contrast to the candidate Obama many of us (myself, very much included) were pied pipers and delighted to be part of such an exciting, promising moment in our national history.
Three years later, little remains of either the enthusiasm or promise. The only "change" President Obama has materialized is the change in his direction and our expectations. The Chicago pol who referred to himself as a "fierce advocate" during he campaign has yet to show a hint of either fierceness or advocacy. What his increasingly hard-pressed cheerleaders like Plouffe and Axelrod point to as crowing achievements to his administration are most often times the President has stepped out of the way and not been an impediment to legislation (though not beyond accepting credit, post-facto, i.e. healthcare "reform" and repealing of DADT and DOMA.) Another great example and defining metaphor to his leadership (or lack, thereof), can be found surrounding those infamous robber-baron Bush (née Obama) era tax cuts Candidate Obama aggressively built a consensus and candidacy around. Since taking office, he has, without a sideways glance, voted to extend these cuts amidst intense economic argument against such action and, then, seamlessly extoll their inherent injustice on the perpetual campaign for re-election.
Ahh, the capacity of the political animal. But is Obama truly a political animal? Not in a Clinton, "against all odds and challenges who sucks the air out of any room he enters" kind of way. Not in the Johnson, hard-assed "comin' up to the hill to cajoll or strong-arm members to his view" kind of way. And Certainly not in the FDR "we are better than our obstacles, here's our historic plans to deal with historic challenges" kind of way.
Obama has a perfectly brilliant American narrative, to be sure. Political strategists wait their whole career for such an engaging backdrop to a campaign. Yet, his lack of application, his reluctance to expend his (once) political capital, his absence in any significant consensus-building or public initiative leadership to date cannot but highlight the fact that this compelling human narrative may be little more than that - a narrative that captures our collective imagination, our "hope," but does not then translate into any evidence for the capacity to manifest "change" or even produce the most meager of "back-stops" against a Congress where the culture of intransigency has sunk to parody as the Teabag tail wags the GOP dog.
To the realists of the left, this dynamic has been dismally clear for some time. To all but the most ardent and centrist of the president's flock, the maintenance of denial is visibly crumbling day by day.
For Plouffe and Axelrod, this isn't an issue. Primarily, because it is one they cannot effect. They cannot pull Candidate Obama out of the closet and replace the defining national political disappointment of a generation with the hopeful and uplifting Chicagoan of pre-2009. All his advisor's need to do (in their relatively public opinion) is wait for the coming Perry/Romney battle where Perry holds the odds to carry the primary but also provide the face to the final heydays of a tea-party that will burn itself down from the inside by the general, allowing for four more years of the more moderate republican Obama administration.
The question of import now is - since the candidate of "yes, we can," is the president of "but, we won't try," where do we stand as a party and a country? More importantly, where do we go from here? What, and for whom, must we fight for?
Ms. Dowd, illuminates, c/o NYT:
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: August 9, 2011
Even the Butter Cow at the Iowa State Fair is not enough to sweeten the mood.
Three years ago, Barack Obama’s unlikely presidential dream was given wings by rapturous Iowans — young, old and in-between — who saw in the fresh-faced, silky-voiced black senator a chance to leap past the bellicose, rancorous Bush years into a modern, competitive future where we once more had luster in the world.
“We are choosing hope over fear,” Senator Obama told a delirious crowd of 3,000 here the night he won the Iowa caucuses.
But fear has garroted hope, as America reels from the latest humiliating blows on the economy and in Afghanistan. The politician who came across as a redeemer in 2008 is now in need of redemption himself.
Faced with a country keening for reassurance and reinvention, Obama seems at a loss. Regarding his political skills, he turns out to be the odd case of a pragmatist who can’t learn from his mistakes and adapt.
Many of his Democratic supporters here, who once waited hours in line just to catch a glimpse of The One, are disillusioned.
“We just wish he’d be more of a fighter,” said one influential Democrat with a grimace. Another agreed: “You can’t blame him for everything. I just wish he would come across more forceful at times, but that is not the dude’s style. Detached hurts you when things are sour. You need some of Clinton’s ‘I feel your pain’ compassion.”
The president has been so spectacularly unable to fill the leadership void in Washington that the high-spirited Michele Bachmann feels free to purloin Obama’s old mantra.
“The power behind our campaign is hope and a future,” she chirped to a sparse crowd Monday in Atlantic, Iowa. “That’s all I believe in.” That and making America safe for old-fashioned light bulbs and not those weird curly ones.
Obama’s response on Monday to Friday’s Standard & Poor’s downgrade and to the 22 Navy Seal commandos and 8 other soldiers killed by a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan was once more too little, too late. It was just like his belated, ineffectual response on the BP oil spill and his reaction to the would-be Christmas Day bomber; it took him three days on vacation in Hawaii to speak about the terrorist incident when the country was scared about national security, and then he spent the next week callously shuttling from the podium to the golf course.
Bachmann has been riding around Iowa in her bus, with Elvis music and her name emblazoned 25 times on the outside, mocking Obama for going to Camp David last weekend and burrowing in, while the country was roiling.
His inability to grab a microphone and spontaneously assuage Americans’ fears is strange. If the American servicemen had died on a Monday, he wouldn’t have waited until Wednesday to talk about it. He doesn’t like the bully pulpit, just the professor’s lectern.
After failing to interrupt his Camp David weekend to buck up the country on one of its worst days in history, he tacked on his condolences for the soldiers’ families to his economic pep talk, in what had to be the most inept oratorical segue of his presidency.
He long ago should have gone out into the country to talk to Americans in person and come up with a concrete plan that people could print out from the White House Web site and study. Hasn’t he learned how dangerous it is to delegate to Congress? His withholding and reactive nature has made him seem strangely irrelevant in Washington, trapped by his own temperament. He doesn’t lead, and he doesn’t understand why we don’t feel led.
Speaking from the State Dining Room of the White House, he advised America it was still “a triple-A country” like some cerebral soccer coach urging the kids to win one for the London Interbank Offered Rate.
With traders hearing nothing new, just boilerplate about “common sense and compromise” on deficit reduction, the Dow Jones industrial average, which had already fallen 410 points, fell 20 more points while the president was talking around 2 o’clock. By the 4 p.m. close, the Dow was 634 points lower.
Obama has spent a lifetime creating his persona — superior, wise, above all parties and interests, all-seeing, calm, unflappable.
But as Drew Westen, a liberal psychology professor at Emory University wrote in The Times on Sunday, puzzling about what has happened to his former hero’s passion, the president never identifies the villains who cause our epic problems.
It’s unclear, Westen wrote, whether that reflects his aversion to conflict or a fear of offending donors, or both.
Obama’s assumption that you can rise above ascribing villainous motives has caused him to waste huge chunks of his first term seeking bipartisanship from Republicans who were playing him for a dupe. And it has led to Americans regarding the nation’s capital as a place of all villains and no heroes.
for the orginal article go here.