While he was abroad, there was a palpable sense at home of something gone wrong. A critical mass of influential people who once held big hopes for his presidency began to wonder whether they had misjudged the man. Most significant, these doubters now find themselves with a new reluctance to defend Obama at a phase of his presidency when he needs defenders more urgently than ever.
Drew goes on to say many more harsh things related to what we can learn by the cashiering of White House counsel Greg Craig. This comes on the heels of a similarly harsh judgment from another establishment oracle, David Gergen, a couple days ago. Gergen compares Obama's trip to China to JFK's weak performance in the 1961 Vienna summit with Khrushchev, which had disastrous results:
Why bring up that story now, as President Obama comes home from Asia? Because it has considerable relevance to his meetings in China with President Hu. Obama went into those sessions like Kennedy: with great hope that his charm and appeal to reason - qualities so admired in the United States - would work well with Hu. By numerous accounts, that is not at all what happened: reports from correspondents on the scene are replete with statements that Hu stiffed the President, that he rejected arguments about Chinese human rights and currency behavior while scolding the U.S. for its trade policies, and that he stage-managed the visit so that Obama - unlike Clinton and Bush before him - was unable to reach a large Chinese audience through television.
UPDATE: Oops! I see Peter is on to the same Gergen story below, with much the same point. But wait! My time-stamp is earlier than his. Another internet mystery.
From Obama to Palin to Bush and the Clintons, why does American politics (at least lately) draw out and elevate such insubstantial persons?
But is this new? Recall Henry Adams' quip that the progression of presidents from George Washington to Ulysses Grant refuted the theory of evolution.
Because the public does not value that which makes a man "substantial," and he who is substantial is wise enough to not pursue the office.
There is a fine line between strength of character and vanity, and the temptation to cross it must be strong the higher in elected office one gets.
I recall immediately after 9/11 there was a renewed sense of appreciation for "quiet men of strength and courage." We never lose that our awareness of how important that is in our world, but we often forget it.
I have an alternative theory about "insubstantial persons." Basically, it takes power, influence, and real cash to become a prominent politician. I suspect that those who end up winning the White House (or a Senate seat, or a Governorship) aren't really self-selected -- they are selected by oligarchical elites. So the real question is, why do these elites keep picking glad-handing nitwits who don't have an ounce of integrity?
I thiink our elites are the corrupt ones -- over-educated, under-worked/experienced, and arrogant as the day is long. The politicians are simply their front men (and women).
There are exceptions (perhaps Sarah Palin), but overall I see the political class as just the tip of a really dirty iceberg.