President Obama's CNBC "townhall" was a disaster for the White House message machine, so much so you have to wonder if the president isn't suggesting that Robert Gibbs leave along with Rahm and Larry.
Lost among the coverage given to the "I'm exhausted" exchange between the president and Velma Hart was a stunner from the president that went this way:
"The rhetoric and the politicizing of so many decisions that are out there has to be toned down. We've got to get back to working together. And this is part of my job as leader. It's not just a matter of implementing good policies, but also setting a better tone so that everybody feels like we can start cooperating again instead of going at loggerheads all the time."
Coming from President "I Won, You Lost" just as Harry Reid ginned up his re-election campaign by bringing before the Senate for certain defeat the so-called "Dream Act," the so called "Disclose Act," and an attempt to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" months before the Pentagon's review of that proposed repeal is completed or circulated for comment is too much even for cynics to accept as garden variety White House hypocrisy. President Obama used his enormous majorities to jam through a wildly wasteful "stimulus" and the wildly unpopular Obamacare, but now that he is on the brink of losing those majorities, he wants a new era of cooperation.
Except in the Senate. Or the House. Or when he is off stage and demanding of his generals a slow walk to defeat in Afghanistan and calculating that we could absorb another major terrorist attack, if Bob Woodward is to be believed.
The training wheels have come off, and not even the combined effort of all the Beltway media to keep the president on his bike and moving forward is working. The economic policy "team" is scattering like a too-popular-too-soon boy band after a second album, and the White House's "enforcer" Rahm wants out to run the efficient-and-thoughtful-by-comparison city bureaucracy of Chicago.
And we aren't even at the halfway point of the term yet.
This isn't a rerun of the Clinton knock-down and recovery. Clinton never swerved so far to the left, didn't actually burden the economy with Hillary-care and, while he raised taxes, he also got his policy in place and left it there, providing predictability at the start of the dot-com boom.
By contrast, Obama has thrown massive uncertainty on to every employer's balance sheet and has loosed the EPA to try and regulate carbon emissions on every manufacturer in the land. Even if there was a magical second dot-com boom ahead, the president has already spent all the tax revenues it would generate.
The mismanagement of everything is now being detailed in the first wave of insider books, and the rudely-exiled insiders are now sources-in-waiting for when their successors come up short. Even the dutiful MSNBCers cannot be expected to stay on board a quickly sinking ship much longer.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hopes to divert attention from the chaos that is the Obama Administration with ads charging GOP candidates with secret plots to destroy Social Security. This is the political equivalent of showing Reefer Madness to 9th graders in 2010. Is there a single voter who believes such nonsense for even a minute or is it just the product of a weariness so profound that not even paid operatives can be expected to try and find something from the past 22 months worth selling to the public as an achievement.
Really, there is nothing to run on? Nothing at all?
No, there isn't. The deep gloom that has settled on the country is only in part economic. Hard times have come and gone before, but in the modern networked age never has so obviously a clueless set of leaders been so completely and obviously inept, tone deaf and at the same time inarticulate. President Bush wasn't a great communicator, but he limited the damage he did to his own case by not conducting townhalls built around calls for civility while the brass knuckles were still on the fist.
The anti-Obama tsunami seems to be growing, and in unexpected places like New York and West Virginia. The Congress adds fuel to the fire every time it meets, and the president is now on notice that even hand-picked audiences cannot avoid embarrassing him. His cheerleaders want him off the teleprompter until they hear him off the teleprompter.
And his back-up act is Joe Biden.
Somewhere some Democrats have to be talking about Hillary. A party, and a country, can only take so much.