David Plouffe is a friend of mine. Not just a Facebook friend, either, but a real friend. He writes to me, personally. "Friend," the president's chief guru wrote to me in a letter that popped into my e-mail on the eve of the president's State of the Union Address, "We must regroup, refocus and re-engage on the vital work ahead."
I'm impressed as a onetime English teacher by the alliteration and repetition that thumps home its point in a pep talk. But I'm not sure what he means by "we." His message grew increasingly cliched as he talked about "the bumps in the road in our march toward change." We've made it through "challenging times." We did all that? Together?
My pen pal tells me the president's resolve has never been stronger as he fights for health insurance reform and job creation, reining in the big bad banks and squelching the influence of lobbyists. My friend David has been brought into the White House to revive the president's campaign, to recover the momentum he lost somewhere between Chicopee and Cape Cod. But just between friends, David, are we really yearning for another presidential campaign? Can't that wait for 2012?
When Barack Obama ran for president, most voters overlooked his lack of administrative skills and political experience and put their faith in his smooth and well-phrased generalizations. "Change" was the Rorschach test, where everyone could see a projection of himself, not the candidate.
That's not working anymore. The president has had a full year of an era of good feelings. He concedes, in a conversation with Diane Sawyer of ABC-TV, that in that year "we've been so focused on getting things done, we stopped giving voice to the frustrations the people have with the process." He takes full responsibility for not making more speeches.
But there was nothing new in the process, and it was the substance -- or lack of it -- that stoked the rebellion in Massachusetts. When senators were so transparently purchased to vote for ObamaCare, it wasn't so much the sausage-making that turned people off but the sausage itself.