President Barack Obama began his term with the highest of accolades in the press. Hardball host, TV’s Chris Matthews, felt a tingle go up and down his leg whenever Obama speaks. Newsweek’s Evan Thomas said he hovered over the nations, like “a sort of god.” All too soon, however, the President came crashing down, like Icarus in Greek legend. Young Icarus flew too close to the sun and the wax that attached the feathers to his homemade wings melted. Icarus plunged into the sea. President Obama may have gotten too close to those klieg lights.
He senses it himself. “They talk about me like I’m a dog,” he complained recently. Actually, Mr. President, that’s wrong. Americans love their dogs. Just recall the furor that erupted when Lyndon B. Johnson lifted his beagles up by their ears. Americans liked those beagles a lot more than they liked LBJ.
This campaign is bringing out the worst in some of Obama’s critics. I want to say: Enough! Let’s show some more respect for the President of the United States. It’s gone too far when a candidate for governor of one of our famous states publicly tells the president he can take his endorsement and “shove it.”
What’s that you say? Was the president really going to endorse a Republican? Not at all. The candidate who told the commander-in-chief to take his job endorsement and shove it was none other than Frank Caprio, the Democratic candidate for governor of Rhode Island.
It seems the president is campaigning in the Ocean State, but is pointedly not embracing Caprio. Instead, the President’ non-endorsement will be seen as a blessing-in-disguise for former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee. Chafee is running for governor as an independent.
Obama continues to have a high approval rating in Rhode Island—if not in the Caprio household. Rhode Island is one of the few states where local candidates are happy to be seen with the embattled President.
How bad is it getting on the campaign trail? Well, local candidates seem happy to bring former President Bill Clinton in to campaign for them. They’d rather have an impeached former President, one who turned the pardon process into a fire sale during his last days in office. Does anyone remember Marc Rich? Clinton gave him a pardon for dealing in oil with Saddam Hussein. Even TIME magazine cited the Marc Rich pardon as one of the ten most scandalous in our history. Yet candidates prefer to hug Bill Clinton on the hustings to being hugged by Barack Obama.