"If you love me, you've got to help me pass this bill."
That was part of Barack Obama's response to an exuberant fan who shouted "I love you!" at a campaign rally.
And so it has come to this. "The One" has gone from messiah to pleading like a teenage boy on a date. "Come on, baby. If you love me, you'll do it."
A gossip website reports that the New York Times is working on a story that the president is depressed. That's unconfirmed. But if he isn't depressed, I'd hope the self-proclaimed "paper of record" would investigate why on earth he's not.
According to the standard calendar, autumn is fast approaching. According to the White House calendar, we're finishing up our second "Recovery Summer." But for the president, this is darkest winter.
When Obama unveiled his first stimulus, he promised it would lift 2 million people out of poverty. Instead, the Census Bureau announced this week that 2.6 million more people fell below the poverty line last year, pushing the number of poor people to the highest level in a half-century.
That stimulus was also intended to jump-start a new economy, fueled by high-paying clean energy jobs. The crown jewel of that multibillion-dollar effort was a solar power company called Solyndra, which not only closed its doors and fired its workers, but has exposed the White House as at best politically incompetent and ideologically blinkered.
Now, in fairness, the Department of Energy considers the bankrupt company a winner. "The project that we supported succeeded," Damien LaVera, a Department of Energy spokesman, told the New York Times. "The facility was producing the product it said it would produce, and consumers were buying the product. The company struggled because the market has changed dramatically."
That's true. If Obama had been able to pass cap-and-trade as the market once foolishly expected, things might have been different. He wanted to make electricity rates "skyrocket," which could have made Solyndra's expensive products profitable. As it is, Solyndra was only marginally more legitimate an enterprise than Paul Newman's bookie parlor in "The Sting." At least Newman only stung one mobster. With this green con job, we're all feeling the bite.
Indeed, Vice President Joe Biden was right when he said Solyndra is "exactly what the Recovery Act was all about." For instance, the Washington Post reported this week that $38.6 billion in loans have netted a "few thousand" jobs rather than the 65,000 Obama promised. So if the program had "succeeded," that would amount to nearly $600,000 per job in government-backed loans.
Then there's the politics. Tuesday afternoon, even as polls remained open in congressional elections in New York and Nevada, high-level Democratic donors and strategists gathered on a conference call. A participant in the discussion told Politico that the mood was "awful." "People feel betrayed, disappointed, furious, disgusted, hopeless," he added.
That was before the election results came in. In Nevada, the Republican crushed a top-flight female Democratic candidate by 22 points. In New York, the seat that once belonged to Geraldine Ferraro, Chuck Schumer and Anthony Weiner went to Republican Bob Turner -- the first time the seat since has gone Republican since 1923. A liberal strategist put a rosy spin on it: "The mine hasn't collapsed, but the loss in New York is definitely a dead canary."
In both races, the Democrats used their trump card: scaring seniors by telling them the GOP wants to take away their Medicare and Social Security. It didn't work.
This came against a backdrop of abysmal poll numbers showing Obama's approval falling with every constituency, including Democrats, Independents, Hispanics and African-Americans. That might be why congressional Democrats are openly balking at his must-pass stimulus do-over.
But, please. Don't share any of this with AttackWatch.com, the third and newest operation set up by this president inviting good and decent Americans to hand over the names of critics who say mean things about the president.
It seems ominous -- and would have been denounced as Orwellian if George W. Bush had done anything of the sort. But the truth is, it's sad. The aim, I'm sure, is to inspire liberals -- who now hate Obama's enemies far more than they love Obama -- to get involved in his re-election.
In 2008, the "politics of hope" campaign trained volunteers to testify about how they "came to Obama" the way one talks of "coming to Jesus." Now they ask supporters to help build a digital enemies list. Which they'll do, of course. But not because they love him.