Being President's Just Too Tough for Him

Posted: Oct 04, 2012 7:30 PM

Looking down this blog, one sees a catalog of excuses the left has made for Obama today -- Greg notes Toure has attributed Obama's performane to his race; Kate points out that Al Gore has blamed it on the altitude.

But perhaps the most creative rationalization goes to the Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta, who argues that Obama isn't the same ebullient, charismatic guy he once was . . . because the job is just weighing too heavily on him.

If there's something that seems shut down in our once ebulliently optimistic president, it most likely has to do with the wars. Obama is a naturally empathic individual, whose diverse, mobile, international background made him unusually able when it came to assessing new social situations and reading more than people say. 

Later, she adds

If Obama seems shut down, perhaps it is because he has to be to be who he is and do the job he needs to do day in and day out. If his heart didn't seem in it last night, I wonder if it's not in part because the last thing he needs to consider in his work on a day-to-day basis is his heart. It's a long way from being a community organizer, civil-rights lawyer and anti-war state senator to running a drone war that kills innocent civilians, ordering the death of militants, overseeing a policy that's led to an increase in American casualties in Afghanistan, and delivering funereal [sic] remarks at a ceremony honoring the returning remains of a slain American diplomat.

You know what? If she's right, that's why it's usually best to come to the job with some experience.  But that's what being President involves, and no one forced him to take the job.  Right now, no one's forcing him to continue past January.

These memes -- about the difficulty of the job -- seem to come when a liberal president is in trouble.  Back in 1979, as Carter flailed, there was a spate of stories, like this one, claiming that the presidency had just become too big a job for one man. A capable president, Ronald Reagan, quickly dispelled that myth.  At this point, once again, the problem isn't the office -- it's the man holding it.

Franke-Ruta essentially argues that Obama is just too pure -- too good -- to be president.  Her diagnosis is eerily similar to the sarcasm on display last November in Investors Business Daily, which ran an editorial entitled "A Country Unworthy of Its President."

Sometimes, Franke-Ruta and fellow partisans on the left might want to keep in mind the principle of Occam's razor: The simplest explanations are usually most likely to be true.  Here, the explanation for Obama's poor performance is pretty easy to figure out: (1) He couldn't defend his record because it is terrible; and (2) He isn't everything they thought he was, even back in 2008.