Victor Davis Hanson

Barack Obama's favorability in the polls falls when he is himself -- overexposed, hard left in his press conferences, and boastful about legislative achievements like Obamacare and a stimulus of more than $1 trillion.

Then a strange thing happened. Obama largely went quiet. Often he was out of sight, vacationing in Hawaii or golfing. It was almost as if he learned that the less he was seen or heard, the more Americans liked the idea of Obama as president rather the reality of his constant "Make no mistake about it" and "Let me be perfectly clear" sermonizing.

Obama has now edged ahead of his potential Republican Party rivals in the polls. He waited for the noisy Republicans to grab national attention in the debates and primaries before moving hard left to firm up his base. So while the nation was amused, repelled and bored by the constant back-and-forth over Mitt Romney's moneymaking and Newt Gingrich's marriages and off-the-cuff philosophizing, President Obama matter-of-factly canceled the vital Keystone pipeline project.

He even more quietly prepared to ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling to over $16 trillion to accommodate his fourth consecutive reckless trillion-dollar-plus annual deficit -- while planning to slash the defense budget in the next decade. Did anyone notice that he made controversial "recess" appointments -- which as a senator he had opposed -- when most thought Congress was not really in recess?

Obama now rarely talks about his supposed signature achievements, whether the huge deficit "priming" or the unpopular Obamacare. Republicans have only controlled the House of Representatives for the past year, yet Obama now blasts them for stopping what he in theory wanted to do as president. In contrast, he hardly praises the Democrats who controlled both houses of Congress for twice that time and enacted all that he wished. How strange to keep silent about successes only to broadcast failed what-ifs.

President Obama now campaigns on events that happened despite, not because of, him. His Cabinet has cut federal oil leases by 40 percent, subsidized money-losing and now bankrupt green companies, and in the past openly wished that gas and electricity prices would skyrocket to make alternative energy cost-competitive. But recently he bragged that we are pumping more oil than ever. Natural gas is suddenly no longer an earth-warming pollutant but welcomed in vast abundance.

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.