By Dave Andrusko
I’ve had a wager (with myself) when the front page of the Washington Post, the New York Times, or USA Today would have a story with a headline like that found on Monday’s USA Today: “Obama’s 2nd term travails: A lame duck before his time?”
Such speculation has appeared everywhere on editorial and op-ed pages before and, to be honest, I’m sure slightly less direct headlines have popped up on the Times’ and Post’s front page but I’ve just missed them.
So why mention this today, aside from the fact that USA Today’s Susan Page added her thoughtful two cents to the discussion? Several reasons come to mind. Here are three
For starters, POLITICO—hardly an opponent of President Obama—also ran a front page piece today headlined, “The Speech that made Obama President Turns 10.”
The “speech,” of course, was the keynote address then Senator Obama delivered to the Democratic National Convention which was lauded as something that was almost mystically articulate.
POLITICO’s Edward-Isaac Dovere and David Nather examined the “key lines” of the 18-minute speech to see which ones have “held up.” (By the way, on the web, the story is headlined, “10 years later: Obama’s hits and blunders.”)
They (overly generously) conclude that certain parts “hold up well” before adding, “But parts come across as the oratorical equivalent of an embarrassing hairdo in a high school yearbook.”
They properly start with “The line most associated with the speech — ‘there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America, there’s the United States of America,’” which Dovere and Nather say “is the part that’s probably held up the least well over time.”
Of course, Republicans get the disproportionate share of the blame. Of all the myths that surround President Obama, none is more impervious to fact that the notion that he has striven through his six years to bridge the divide in the face of implacable GOP opposition. A more accurate characterization is that he blew up the bridge that existed when he assumed office.
In the story we see evidence that Mr. Obama (to this day) has made comments about Republicans that make cooperation nearly impossible—i.e., by needlessly slurring Republicans.
For example, POLITICO quotes Obama saying “I’d love nothing more than a loyal and rational opposition,” to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraising luncheon last week in Los Altos Hills, California. “But that’s not what we have right now, and as a consequence we’re going to need change.”
That is just one of a hundred examples Dovere and Nather could have cited of Obama treating Republicans with ill-concealed contempt. But if you believe—as Obama clearly does—that he is always right, what can explain resistance except either Republican obstreperousness or irrationality?
There are two other reason to bring up Obama’s head-long rush into lame-duckhood today. One is that virtual avalanche of stories questioning not if some alleged partisanship has reduced Obama to “small-bore initiatives” but whether Mr. Obama has effectively checked out with two years to go in his presidency. In other words that we are already witnesses to a “Post-Obama” presidency.
The other is the for-what-it’s-worth results of the latest CNN/ORC survey. If voters were allowed a mulligan on the 2012 presidential election, 53% would choose Mitt Romney over Mr. Obama. (Romney led among women 54% to 43%.) As Noah Rothman noted
“There is not much in the way of good news for Obama in this poll. A majority say Obama is not a ‘strong and decisive leader.’ By 56 to 43 percent, voters say Obama does not agree with them on the issues they ‘care about.’ Only 42 percent say Obama can manage the government effectively; 57 percent believe he cannot.”