Thursday, June 3, 2010
The Incredibly Shrinking President
By Alan Caruba
Lyndon B. Johnson said he knew the war in Vietnam was over when news anchor, Walter Cronkite, reporting from there said we were losing. On Sunday, Maureen Dowd of The New York Times lit into Barack Obama for his failure to react to the oil spill disaster in the Gulf.
“Too often it feels as though Barry is watching from a balcony, reluctant to enter the fray until the clamor of the crowd forces him to come down. The pattern is perverse,” said Dowd, adding, “The wound-tight, travel-light Obama has a distaste for the adversarial and the random.”
Lynn Cheney, the daughter of the former Vice President, speaking as part of a Sunday Fox News panel, put her finger on the problem, noting that Obama seems to believe that merely saying something is the same as doing something.
The coup de grace was delivered by Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal, writing “The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen.”
When the adoring mainstream media begins to back away and the base of Obama’s popularity—-what’s left of it—youth, blacks, Hispanics, enviromaniacs and the Democrat Party’s far Left have second thoughts, you have a presidency in deep trouble, but one that still has just over 960 days to serve in office.
This is a President whose political endorsement has increasingly become the kiss of death at the polls.
The news is filled with commentary about the spill being Obama’s “Katrina”, comparing him to former President Bush’s response to the category five hurricane that hit New Orleans in 2005. One can only wonder what will happen when the 2010 hurricane season begins to display once more the power of Nature over man.
This year’s hurricane season is widely predicted to be one of the worst in recent years. Accuweather’s expert, Joe Bastardi, predicts that “The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season may rival some of the worst in history with meteorological conditions mirroring the 2005 season.” He is predicting a total of 16 to 18 named storms that could last into the month of October.
Presidents don’t get to pick and choose the events that shape their term in office. They are elected to manage those events with the resources of the nation and Obama is proving to be so poor in this essential skill-set that confidence is sinking like a tar ball to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
It did not go unnoticed that, after 309 days of no press conferences, the one he held to staunch the bleeding was remarkably lame for a man who gained and entered the Oval Office on the basis of his oratory.
It lasted an excruciating hour, the first fifteen or so minutes of which was taken up by a prepared statement. Unless reading from a TelePrompter, Obama’s halting, word-by-carefully-selected-word, pause-by-pause response without technological aid is painful listening.
After LBJ’s fall from grace that forced him to forego a run for a second full term, one has to go all the way back to Jimmy Carter to find a president who disappointed the voters sufficiently to end with just one term. President George H.W. Bush was a one-term president largely because Ross Perot peeled off 19% of the vote he would have received and he had broken his no new taxes pledge.
History has since revealed that President George W. Bush’s perceived failure following Katrina was largely the result of Louisiana’s incredibly inept governor at the time and New Orleans’ moronic mayor. It did not help that, despite ample warning, a large part of the city’s population failed or refused to evacuate. Even with all that, the federal government’s effort was less than stellar.
In the face of major acts of nature or an unanticipated technological failure on a deepwater oil rig, the limitations on government are manifested for everyone to see. The faith of the public in government “action” is overblown and unrealistic, but why should that come as a surprise in the wake of years of failure to close off the nation’s southern border to a full scale invasion from Mexico.
The nation has thus far suffered with a federal government since the 1970s that has shut off most domestic oil exploration and extraction.
It has failed to encourage the building of a single new nuclear plant since Three Mile Island when literally no harm occurred to anyone.
It has fallen prey to the environmentalist campaign against coal.
It has literally been responsible for the housing bubble and the predictable financial collapse that followed in its wake.
Unable to muster international opinion, North Korea still has nukes and Iran will soon have them. Meanwhile the president wants to reduce the U.S. stockpile!
In the end, presidents are elected to lead and the only things Obama has led have been the tripling of the nation’s debt in a year and a half, the takeover of the auto industry, the takeover of the nation’s healthcare sector, and recent efforts to takeover its banking and investment sector.
The nationalization of America’s industrial and business sector mirrors what has occurred in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and has earned the plaudits of Chavez and Cuba’s Castro brothers.
The only thing remaining to challenge this presidency is a major expansion of war in the Middle East or anywhere else. He took three months to decide what to do in Afghanistan after having previously declared that conflict to be more important than Iraq. And he has backed off support for Israel. Not smart. And very dangerous.
He has been lucky in the failure of the Christmas and Times Square bombers and less lucky in the Fort Hood killings by an Islamic-American fanatic.
Obama is the incredibly shrinking President.
© Alan Caruba, 2010