The president is surrounded by acolytes of the Cult of Obama. They consider him to be a "transformational figure" who need not sully himself with the usual rules of politics. The president agrees, rejecting suggestions that he recalibrate his Olympian ambitions.
That's not me saying that, nor one of my knuckle-dragging, baby-eating, right-wing brethren. It's Dana Milbank, the liberal Washington Post writer widely seen as Maureen Dowd in drag by most conservatives.
Milbank wrote a column Feb. 21 arguing that all the president's problems can be attributed to a single factor. "Obama's first year fell apart in large part because he didn't follow his chief of staff's advice on crucial matters," writes Milbank, referring to Rahm Emanuel, apparently the only senior staffer who hasn't drunk the Obama Kool-Aid. "Arguably, Emanuel is the only person keeping Obama from becoming Jimmy Carter."
Milbank's column sent political reporters and other junkies into a frenzy of dime-story Kremlinology. Did Rahm plant the story? Did he talk to Milbank? Will Obama, Zeus-like, hurl a lightning bolt at his majordomo?
Milbank insists he didn't interview Emanuel. But that just underscores how fiendishly clever Emanuel is, claim his enemies. He had his friends advance the story line, without leaving his fingerprints on anything (they say the same thing about a host of subsequent damage-control stories the Milbank column inspired).
What really got tongues wagging was the ugliness of the White House chief of staff seeming to blame the president for his problems. Normally, a chief of staff falls on his sword for the boss; he doesn't shove it into his boss's back.
But Milbank makes an important point. "It's worth noting," he wrote in a Post chatroom discussion, "that nobody seems to be questioning the argument itself ... which I take to be a good sign."
I don't know what he means by a "good sign." Good for Obama? Emanuel? The country? But Milbank is right that no one's disputing his basic point: Obama and his sycophants are the problem.