Kathryn Lopez

From the beginning of his presidency, Obama has not been fond of critics, real or imagined. And make no mistake: some of the critics he talks about are 100 percent straw men -- the critics he broad-brushes without naming names, and the ones he names only to add the most manipulative mischaracterizations of their views. From early on, he reportedly had the audacity to ask elected officials, directly, not to take him on publicly. His version of bipartisanship requires the opposing side to abandon everything it stands for.

Obama is mired in the midst of a vainglorious fluster right now, and he seems to lack any self-awareness about it. In a classic campaign move, he appeared on daytime talk show "The View" this summer. On that a.m. gabfest, he said: "We shouldn't be campaigning all the time." He would go on to sound almost biblical about it: "There is a time to campaign and then there is a time to govern."

There's good news, though. His poll ratings are falling and the intensity of the rallies against his policies is mounting. Opposition-party candidates this year seem to have drive and backbone: They are not as ready to surrender their country to its remaking as Obama would like them to be; they want to have something to show for their time in Washington, and don't simply want to lord their victory over others. They can see beyond themselves and their next election.

Only time will tell how this all shakes out, in November and thereafter. But there are warning signs. Boehner -- and America -- might just benefit from the summer bonfire of the presidential vanity. Politics works in mysterious ways.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.