Do you remember the Reverend Wright scandal? Over the course of twenty years, Obama had listened to horrifying racist rants from his beloved minister, yet in 2008 Obama still managed to claim that he had never heard any of this disturbing language, and the American electorate, in love with an image created by Axelrod, Plouffe and Dunne, ignored this obvious character failing and elected him president. A quick learner, Obama internalized this lesson: not Bart Simpson's "I didn't do it," but rather "I didn't hear it," or a variant on "what I don't know can't hurt me." And so, the responsibility of White House chief counsel Kathryn Ruemmler was born: "protector of the presidency" from, for example, the findings of the inspector general’s audit of the IRS (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/white-house-counsel-kathy-ruemmler-from-outsider-to-protector-of-the-presidency/2013/05/26/78a6986e-c3f0-11e2-914f-a7aba60512a7_story.html?hpid=z2). After all, the president cannot be blamed for acting or not acting if he can claim that he discovered something in the newspapers in the same way as other Americans.
In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "President of Scandinavia" (http://wap.nytimes.com/2013/05/29/opinion/dowd-president-of-scandinavia.html?from=opinion), Maureen Dowd is critical of Obama's communication skills. Dowd writes:
"David Plouffe told [journalist and author Jonathan] Alter that Obama was 'better suited to politics in Scandinavia than here,' meaning, Alter writes, 'that he was a logical and unemotional person in an illogical and emotional capital.' Ironic, given that it was Obama’s emotional speeches that precociously vaulted him into the Oval Office."
Why ironic? Those carefully crafted teleprompter speeches, having no connection whatsoever to Obama's psyche, could just as easily have been conveyed by a computer generated image. Americans were hungry for "change," and it didn't matter if it came from someone willing to sit in silence through warped Sunday sermons. America got what it paid for . . . twice.
"When Obama was elected, he assumed he would be a good bridge-builder. 'But he just had no experience dealing with Republicans in any significant way,' Alter told me. 'He wasn’t in the leadership in Springfield or the Senate. He thought that just because he mussed up Tom Coburn’s hair that he knew how to deal with Republicans.'
. . . .
The man who prides himself on his self-awareness is now trying to use more tools in the toolbox. So the main question, Alter says, is 'whether learned behavior and his determination to have a successful second term and do things differently can win out against his natural inclinations.'
The historian believes that Obama does have the capacity to change. 'He gets it now,' Alter says. 'Is it too late? I doubt it. He wants to be remembered for more than being the first African-American president.'"
Indeed, Obama was elected without experience or communications skills essential to any leader. Does Obama "have the capacity to change"? How quaint.
Does Obama wish "to be remembered for more than being the first African-American president"? This is heresy. In case you have forgotten, Obama in his first term already ranked his legislative and foreign policy accomplishments with those of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln:
Or in other words, Obama is a bit detached from reality and more than a bit narcissistic.
Why does Obama need to do more in order "to be remembered for more than being the first African-American president"? Obama already thinks that he is there.
The bigger concern is whether the emergence of the Benghazi, IRS and AP/Rosen scandals and Obama's "What I don't know can't hurt me" outlook won't paralyze the executive branch of the US government for the remainder of his second term, when the US economy is still flaccid and when the US is facing challenges from rogue regimes in Iran and North Korea.