"I have seen more of President Obama than I have of my wife," said the caller from Atlanta. "And I'm a newlywed."
Funny. And true. And sad. Stung by his defeat in Massachusetts after a personal appearance on behalf of Martha Coakley and a long speech telling Massachusetts voters why they had to send her to Washington, President Obama seems intent on punishing the entire nation with speech after speech after speech.
We are to be cajoled into submission.
It isn’t working. “He talks and talks,” Mark Steyn said on my show Thursday. “And the more his rhetoric is detached from reality, the more he’s actually devaluing his only currency which is words.”
President Obama’s meeting with Senate Democrats on Wednesday is the perfect example of the political cul-de-sac he finds himself in. He is trying to use words to change the political weather, but the more he speaks, the more ridiculous his arguments appear.
He told the senators that "they needed to get out there, get out of Washington, out of the echo chamber." This is laughable when this past August is recalled. Democrats went home to their states and districts and found town halls jammed with Obamacare opponents. Then the president urged them to disregard the voters. They did so, and their political peril is palpable. Now the president is telling them to hold more town halls.
That’s not amazing as the president’s rewrite of budget history, which somehow ignores that the budget deficit was $161 billion in 2007 and now stands at $1.6 trillion, a staggering number that is spooking markets. “We’ve also got to get back to fiscal responsibility,” the president told the senators, and the listeners outside the room howled. Not only is the president not persuading the public of his ideas or his leadership skills, he is shrinking before their very eyes. It is a poor impersonation of Jon Lovitz, with the president thinking “that’s the ticket!” with every paragraph he utters.
President Obama does seem to realize that blaming President Bush, which was never very Presidential to begin with, has become almost a sign of adolescence. The new president is thus pivoting from blaming his predecessor to blaming the Congressional GOP. The president told the senators that they had had to face more filibusters in a single year than all of the filibusters of the 1950s and 1960s combined, and blamed the Republicans for obstructionism. Of course this is nonsense. Not a single successful partisan filibuster was mounted in 2009, which is not surprising because after Arlen Specter’s switch, the GOP totaled 40 votes. A handful of Obama nominees languished because significant numbers of Democrats joined Republicans in opposing them, but the idea that obstructionism prevailed throughout 2009 is risible, and a president who claims 60 votes is just not enough is risible as well.
The entire meeting was comedy though it was intended as drama, and the president left thinking he’d had another great day, just as he thinks he won his debate with Republicans the Friday before.
While the president pats himself on the back, however, the unemployment numbers climbed, the budget deficit shocked, the markets tanked and Iran threatened. President Obama is in a bubble of words and surrounded by “advisors” who are clearly overmatched by the world. Even Republicans have to hope a shuffle is ahead for the senior staff, and that some experienced leadership is brought to 1600. The country is in a difficult place, and unlike a debate tournament, losing a few rounds has enormous consequences.
We have to hope that the president recognizes that his speech offensive has become offensive, and that what really needs to be done is some work. Beginning with a red pen and his absurd budget. When he asks his party to do anything remotely difficult --and that does not include demanding ruinous taxes on the small businesses they so obviously disdain and in some cases despise-- people may begin to listen again.
Or perhaps not. President Obama may already be in reruns in most voters minds, which makes for a long three years ahead.