Jonah Goldberg

Indeed, the one unifying theme of his presidency so far has been Obama's relentless campaigning for a job he already has. That makes sense because that's really all Obama knows how to do. He's had no significant experience crafting major legislation. He has next to no experience governing at all.

But he's great at giving speeches, holding town halls and chitchatting with reporters. So that's largely what he does as president. The problem is that campaigning is different than governing. The former requires convincing promises about what you will do; the latter requires convincing arguments for what you are doing. He's good at the former, not so good at the latter. Or as columnist Michael Barone puts it, he's good at aura, bad at argument.

It's revealing that liberals suddenly want Obama to spare the god and use the rod. Specifically, as Dick Polman notes in the Philadelphia Inquirer, they want Obama to channel Lyndon Johnson (whom no one confused for a quantum leap in our consciousness). Liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin says she wants BHO to go LBJ: "to take charge, to draw lines, to pressure, to threaten, to cajole." Liberal activist Dean Baker says Obama should "get the list of every hardball nasty political ploy" that Johnson ever deployed.

As Polman rightly notes, this is crazy talk for the simple reason that Obama has nothing like LBJ's experience, skill set, or treasure trove of chits and political IOUs. Obama can no more decide to become LBJ than Carrot Top can decide to become Laurence Olivier.

Now, just as critics predicted, Obama needs on-the-job training to become a president, because he's a god no more.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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