By Dave Andrusko
Too bad the increasingly irrelevant Obama administration can’t just play out the string. Instead President Obama’s penchant for lecturing us mere mortals is ramping up, not ratcheting down.
Too bad as well that in the interest of “even-handedness,” columnists such as the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza can’t out-and-out admit that President Obama is primarily responsible for poisoning the well; it is his behavior, attitude, and sense of superiority that explains why cooperation with Republicans was almost impossible.
Reading the first few paragraphs of his column today (“Obama’s Hard Lessons”), you wouldn’t have a clue that Obama bore any responsibility for what Cillizza calls the “broken” system in Washington.
And then, suddenly, a backhanded suggestion/acknowledgement that the man the Washington Post has carried oceans of water for might bear more than his fair share of blame.
The “hook” for the story is a man who sent a letter of complaint to Obama that the President talked about last week at a California fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. Cillizza doesn’t give the specifics but here’s what the AP wrote about what Mr. Obama said:
I get letters, people say, you are an idiot — (laughter) — and here’s what you didn’t do, and here’s the program that is terrible, and all kinds of stuff. But this gentleman, he said, I voted for you twice but I’m deeply disappointed. And it went on and on, chronicling all the things that hadn’t gotten done.
Cillizza focuses on what Mr. Obama said in response. Guess what? Saying he too is frustrated, Mr. Obama assumes the blame for nothing.
“Folks [a category which does not include him] are more interested in scoring political points than getting things done,” adding for emphasis (now in full blame-shifting mode) hey, he never promised to unilaterally change the ‘mess in Washington.’
“And as mightily as I have struggled against that, I told him, you’re right. It still is broken. But I reminded him that when I ran in 2008, I, in fact, did not say I would fix it; I said we could fix it. I didn’t say, ‘Yes, I can’; I said — what? . . . ‘Yes, we can.’ ”
Then, probably unbidden, candor makes an appearance in Cillizza’s column. He is honest enough to concede “Obama’s framing of his inability to change Washington is, not surprisingly, cast in the best possible light for him.”
As for the malarkey (my word) that Obama was practically Mr. Modest, Cillizza notes
“That’s a bit of revisionist history given the way he talked about his candidacy in 2008. …Implicit — and sometimes explicit — in Obama’s pitch to the American public was the idea that he was uniquely able to solve the unsolvable problems that had vexed Washington through Democratic and Republican presidents alike.”
There were two bases for this uniqueness, according to Cillizza: Obama’s multicultural background and “Obama’s entire life — particularly his relatively short time in office” which
was proof that he could unite un-unitable coalitions and, not for nothing, persuade people far outside of the Democratic base to support him. (He carried Indiana, for Pete’s sake!)
A somewhat more objective assessment would be that Obama was that figurative empty vessel into which people poured whatever it required in order to convince themselves that a man with no executive experience and a legislative career, during which most of the time he was campaigning for higher office, should be our next president.
One last note. The Supreme Court will soon be ruling on a facet of ObamaCare. Cillizza writes of this “overhaul of the nation’s health-care system” that
Everything else in his presidency flowed from that decision. While he did (eventually) do what so many presidents before him had failed at, the cost of getting health care done was enormous, both in terms of the down-ballot losses it inflicted on his party and the distrust it drove — not created but drove — with Republicans.
Health care proved to Republicans that Obama wasn’t really a uniter. And it proved to Obama that Republicans would never, ever work with him on honest terms. The rest is history.
Remember: Obama rammed ObamaCare through without a single Republican vote, a victory made possible by a variety of questionable strategies including a bogus promise to “fix” a problem that he never intended to address, nor did.
Cillizza concludes, in essence, enough blame to go around.
A better answer? Mr. Obama reaped what he sowed.