"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Obama Seems Lost Pt. 3: Campaigning Policy and Budget Proposals

Obama "looked every bit the campaigner as he sometimes mocked his GOP critics, and sometimes asked people to forgive his shortcomings," according to the AP via Yahoo. Strange that that sentence has a comma there. But, nevertheless the man who claimed he was "ready to rule" seems to be anything but as he's continued his retreat back into campaign mode. Attending town hall meetings (two in two days) that are more like revivals and pop concerts, giving Leno the chance to play reporter, and distancing himself from that nasty old bailout brouhaha in Washington, Obama has retreated into his one historically successful endeavor-- currying voter favor. I wonder if perhaps Michelle Malkin could be right and we see him dancing stiffly next to Ellen DeGeneres soon.

Seeing his poll numbers dropping (his approval rating is lower than George Bush's was 2 mos. into his own presidency), and facing bipartisan opposition in Congress regarding more and more of his big mommy government policies (there is that better than socialist?), the Obama administration seems to be intent on winning back moderates who are uneasy, to say the least, by utilizing adoring personal appearances. The OFA has been called into action to annoy their neighbors, and Obama has "announced a new Web site to help people around the nation: makinghomeaffordable.gov."

We'll see how all this flies. I'm not so sure that it will go very well. Obama has abandoned so many of his campaign promises (bipartisanship, transparency, no lobbyists in his administration, etc.) so quickly that it'll be a hard sell to push across expensive and potentially disastrous policies (for instance reliance on nonexistent and abandoned alternative energy [h/t to Legal Insurrection] through cap and trade plus govt. regulation) on just his word.

But then that's why he made this trip in the first place. With little actual governmental experience, no demonstrated managerial skills, no demonstrated understanding on how governing actually works (arrogantly declaring instead that he's going to change how Washington does business), Obama is left with only charisma, a teleprompter, and ignorant cockiness. That's enough for preaching to the choir at a town hall meeting-- even the AP notes that the town hall's "questions were more fawning than pressing. 'I'm very glad and thankful that you are our president,' the first questioner began. The second said, 'thank God for you.'" But it's not enough to govern.

Obama seems to be under the impression that making personal appearances is analogous to governing... rather like celebrities who think paid personal appearances at "awareness" dinner parties (fundraisers) are the same as charity. Obama appears on Arab television, thinking that's enough to calm the Middle East. It didn't. Obama appears in his carefully selected "dying" town of Elkhart, Indiana (h/t to William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection) to save struggling middle-America with a Pelosi and Dodd constructed "stimulus." It won't. Obama appears at the East Peoria Caterpillar factory and declares that the "stimulus" will buoy this company and immediately prevent layoffs. It didn't. Obama seems to not know that merely showing one's face and declaring expedient falsehoods does not equal workable political strategy.

Obama also seems to believe that personal grudges should overturn foreign policy. While perplexed British newspapers have blamed Michelle Obama (openly speculating that she may be a Lady MacBeth) and the snow for the snubbing their visiting Prime Minister, the most probable reason for Obama's antipathy and cool reception of Brown is found in this excerpt from the OFA website's fawning bio of Obama: "Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4th, 1961. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was born and raised in a small village in Kenya, where he grew up herding goats with his own father, who was a domestic servant to the British (emphasis mine)."

Anybody who knows much about Kenya's difficult colonial past is not all that mystified by Obama's snubs and rudeness. The question in my mind was if Obama himself had such awareness (he has, of course, no personal experience of it being raised in Hawaii by his white grandmother). The answer was pretty obvious after the PM's visit.

While Obama's people have offered only lame excuses to the British, one of our firmest allies, as to why Obama slighted their political leader (self-indulgence was not the official explanation), we are left with a leader who seems to be unable to set aside personally held grievances and instead threatens our country's international relationships because of it-- this while we are at war in both Iraq and Afghanistan with British troops on the ground. Obama needs to suck up his personal feelings (no matter how distant the coddled outrage) for the good of the nation.

Obama seems to have regressed. Burdened with troublesome responsibilities he seems incapable of handling, Obama is trying to relive the good old days, not very long past, when crowds of hundreds of thousands chanted his name and waved American flags stamped with his beaming face. Now only a thousand or so shills chant his name at town hall meetings. There was a time when I couldn't escape television commercials for his commemorative plates and coins, between the Snuggie and Cash 4 Gold adverts. Well the Cash 4 Gold commercials are still running...

Obama projects calm confidence behind a microphone and a teleprompter. No matter what others may say, that is his true element. It's not in Washington, neither in Congress nor the White House. Unfortunately, that sort of playacting is not enough for effective government. Political reality is neutral. As I have said before, it is unmoved by eloquent words, racial pity, education or celebrity. People may be swayed by such things, but reality is not. It must be addressed directly, requiring confident leadership and sound political strategies-- not cocky pretensions nor desperate needs for approval.

Which do you think Obama is currently demonstrating?

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