. . . but he doesn't seem to understand that he owns the rubble. Recalling the moment when it became clear that President George W. Bush owned his presidency--September 14, 2001 when he stood amidst the rubble of the World Trade Center with bullhorn in hand telling the terrorists that they'd soon hear from us--Peggy Noonan
today argues that Obama's problem is that he won't take on the rubble and he won't put down the bullhorn.
The tell, she suggests, is in his defensive posture amidst the rubble of crumbling poll numbers and waning support from independents who--she notes--now look more like Republicans than Democrats in their stated political concerns. But Obama is a man used to playing the long game (something I'd suggest too many Republicans seem to forget about him). Further, he is a man who, "seems in general to stick to a course once he's chosen it, though arguably especially when he's wrong." As with most striking aspects of a man's character, Obama's virtue can be his vice. He claims to represent the vanguard of the political scene . . . to be the man with "vision" and the courage to take us to broad sunlit uplands of hope with the change necessary to get there. But does he really "see" or does he merely hope? Is he really a man gifted with "vision" or does he simply cling to "dreams" (whether they are his or his fathers?) in the way that he might suggest a Pennsylvania farmer clings to his God and his guns? Shifting tactics with a single-minded purpose is one thing. Intransigent disregard for the will of the people is quite another.
Noonan seems to think that the truth is that Obama is a poor reader of the political landscape--and, more particularly, of his fellow Americans. (Her line on his "g" dropping is spot on.) Obama is trying to force a template to fit the current political atmosphere in a way that just doesn't apply. Key graph:
The problem isn't his personality, it's his policies. His problem isn't
what George W. Bush left but what he himself has done. It is a problem
of political judgment, of putting forward bills that were deeply flawed
or off-point. Bailouts, the stimulus package, cap-and-trade; turning to
health care at the exact moment in history when his countrymen were
turning their concerns to the economy, joblessness, debt and
deficits--all of these reflect a misreading of the political terrain.
They are matters of political judgment, not personality. (Republicans
would best heed this as they gear up for 2010: Don't hit him, hit his
policies. That's where the break with the people is occurring.)
Very well said, indeed.