It's as simple as this: Just as semi-rural Georgia politics of the mid-1970s couldn't be imposed on the Washington establishment, Chicago-style, brute-force politics doesn't work, either. Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress started digging a hole when they decided to force-feed massive health care reform on the American people in the middle of an unprecedented financial crisis. And with every town hall meeting, press conference and leak of a new strategy, they just keep digging that hole deeper.
In early February, I suggested that the new president might become the Jimmy Carter of this generation. To date, I have little doubt that he's well on his way. In fact, Obama is the "super-sized" version of Carter -- the style and gimmicks that he uses to try to get his way have gone way over the top. The result is that his polling numbers are dropping like granite.
Carter's early years as president included cute moves like amnesty for Vietnam War draft dodgers, a bailout of Chrysler (sound familiar?) and the creation of an energy department that was heralded by the installation of solar panels at the White House. They never really worked.
Carter's staff felt that their man had been elected on a mandate of "change." They got that notion from the nation's anti-Washington, post-Watergate mood. The Carter crew viewed Congress as a necessary impediment that was expected to yield to the new ways of the White House.
But the Carter team had nothing on Obama. For example, Carter began his term with no official chief of staff. But quickly enough, that role fell to a brilliant man by the name of Hamilton Jordan. While many in Washington saw Jordan as arrogant and a playboy, he was never feared like current White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is.
Carter's press secretary was the genial and soft-spoken Jody Powell. It's hard to imagine Powell getting into the type of ruckus recently ignited by current White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.
With the Obama team, everything has to be a bigger and brasher brand of Carter-style politics. Carter merely had his pearly white teeth to flash to the media. President Obama has his endless wit and charm, and the ability to sink a half-court basketball shot on a moment's notice.
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