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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "Dreaming of a Superhero": Keep Dreaming

What will determine the outcome of the November presidential election? My answer in a moment.

As observed by Maureen Dowd in her latest New York Times op-ed, "Dreaming of a Superhero" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/opinion/sunday/dowd-dreaming-of-a-superhero.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), the Obama presidency is in dire straits. Among the factors, cited by Maureen, dragging Obama down:

• questions concerning his targeted assassinations;
• Bill Clinton still pressing a knife to his back;
• a souring press;
• a tanking economy;
• a dearth of achievements, forcing Obama to run a negative campaign.

Dowd doesn't mention Obama's escalation of the ground war in Afghanistan, which continues to cost precious lives and bleed the country white. And although reference is made to Obama's signature piece of legislation, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, no mention is made of its cost overruns, challenged constitutionality, and extreme unpopularity (see: http://www.langerresearch.com/uploads/1136a4HealthCare.pdf)

Seeking to explain Obama's declining fortunes, Dowd observes:

"In his new book, 'A Nation of Wusses,' the Democrat Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania, wonders how 'the best communicator in campaign history' lost his touch.

The legendary speaker who drew campaign crowds in the tens of thousands and inspired a dispirited nation ended up nonchalantly delegating to a pork-happy Congress, disdaining the bully pulpit, neglecting to do any L.B.J.-style grunt work with Congress and the American public, and ceding control of his narrative."

But the day to day business of being president is not about campaign oratory, but rather about leadership. Obama never succeeded in communicating or cooperating with Congress, even when the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate during his first two years in office. But more telling, he couldn't keep the peace between his wife and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel (see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/06/the-obamas-book-jodi-kantor_n_1190100.html).

Control of the narrative? It was very easy during the 2008 campaign when, according to Obama adviser, Anita Dunn, an obsequious press lapped up anything attributed to the One (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlGNhAnwp_Y):

"One of the reasons we did so many of the David Plouffe [Obama’s chief campaign manager] videos was not just for our supporters, but also because it was a way for us to get our message out without having to actually talk to reporters. We just put that out there and made them write what Plouffe had said as opposed to Plouffe doing an interview with a reporter. So it was very much we controlled it as opposed to the press controlled it. . . . very rarely did we communicate through the press anything that we didn’t absolutely control."

But such canned messages and talk from teleprompters grow stale, and ultimately questions are asked by a fawning press. Then, too, calls for "Change" cease to resonate in the face of three and a half years of abject failure.

Dowd concludes by saying of Obama:

"In some ways, he’s still finding himself, too absorbed to see what’s not working. But the White House is a very hard place to go on a vision quest, especially with a storm brewing."

Yet economic malaise is only half of the "perfect storm" that is apt to spoil Obama's autumn. Aware of Obama's election year travails, Iran is playing a stalling game with respect to negotiations with the P5+1 over its nuclear weapons development program. When Tehran demonstrates that it is not capable of concessions when the talks reopen in Moscow later this month, Obama will be faced with a challenge whose handling will determine whether or not he is reelected.

"As President of the United States, I don't bluff," Obama declared while warning Tehran in March to cease and desist from building its first atomic bomb (see: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/obama-to-iran-and-israel-as-president-of-the-united-states-i-dont-bluff/253875/). But as observed by Dowd, Obama's caution "has restrained him at times," and Obama will indeed be reluctant to take any action that might further damage a fragile American economy, particularly if he places credence in Iran's threats to close the Strait of Hormuz to shipping.

Note in this vein Obama's refusal of late to comment on the murder of thousands of innocent civilians by Syrian President Assad (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/on-foreign-policy-obama-focuses-on-economic-issues-not-on-syrian-turmoil/2012/06/02/gJQAVrSX9U_story.html), given that such talk might spur demands for action and also imperil his chances of being reelected.

On the other hand, the Procrastinator-in-Chief is being pressured into taking action against Tehran by Saudi Arabia, Iran's archrival. Then, too, there is a limit to the patience of Israel, which is regularly being threatened with extermination by Khamenei and friends.

Regrettably for Obama, Iran is posing an ugly set of circumstances that will rouse him from his reverie and ephemeral visions of stardom.

2 comments:

  1. What is your problem, Jeff? The guy uses beautiful words ("hope, unity, change") and offers one million watt smiles. Why isn't this enough for you? One can't do everything.

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  2. Perhaps Obama is still in his first 100 days.
    He's performing a sort of Benjamin Button and by November the lay preacher will become a different lay preacher, back in his cot sucking on his pacifier...
    He's lost the plot and is starting snap.

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