Inbox irony of the day
posted at 10:01 am on June 18, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
I’ve subscribed to Politico’s Morning Score for quite a long time. It’s a handy roundup of political stories from around the country, and while much of it never makes it into posts here at Hot Air, I find the background data very useful for context. I almost never quote directly from the e-mail itself, since it mainly consists of excerpts from the stories it links, but today will have to be an exception. Someone at Politico either has a wicked sense of humor or perhaps didn’t notice the irony of putting these two stories sequentially in today’s output. Here it is, verbatim:
BURDEN OF GOVERNING COULD DISTRACT OBAMA FROM CAMPAIGN: “Although American voters are not particularly focused on foreign policy in a time of economic trouble, the rest of the world has a way of occupying a president’s time and intruding on his best-laid campaign plans,” Peter Baker writes on A1 of today’s New York Times that leads with the trouble in Greece, Syria and Egypt over the weekend. “If anything, the dire headlines from around the world only reinforce an uncomfortable reality for this president and any of his successors: even the world’s last superpower has only so much control over events beyond its borders…Whether from ripples of the European fiscal crisis or flare-ups of violence in Baghdad, it is easy to be whipsawed by events. The trick for any president, of course, is in not seeming to be whipsawed, even as his challenger presents him as weak and ineffectual in shaping international events.” Peter: http://nyti.ms/KWDDkp. Jennifer Epstein on what to watch in Mexico: http://politi.co/LVhuWN.
MILESTONE: Obama played his 100th round of golf as president at the Beverly Country Club in Chicago yesterday. Here are some aerial photos of the course if you’re into that kind of thing: http://bit.ly/M5NFS7. Here’s Mark Knoller’s CBS News piece: http://cbsn.ws/MAyuCx.
All right, let’s take a more serious look at the Times story, and get a sense of what Baker is trying to say:
If anything, the dire headlines from around the world only reinforce an uncomfortable reality for this president and any of his successors: even the world’s last superpower has only so much control over events beyond its borders, and its own course can be dramatically affected in some cases. Whether from ripples of the European fiscal crisis or flare-ups of violence in Baghdad, it is easy to be whipsawed by events.
The trick for any president, of course, is in not seeming to be whipsawed, even as his challenger presents him as weak and ineffectual in shaping international events. If a president cannot stand tall in the world, the argument goes, he is not up to the task of governing in a complicated age.
For some reason, people seem to think that presidential election dynamics have changed tremendously over the last few years. How many Presidents lost their re-election bid in a general election? More in the 19th century than afterward, and darned few in any case. In our lifetimes, the only two to have contested for a second term and lost were Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush (Gerald Ford failed to win his first election, remember). They don’t call it the bully pulpit for nothing. The incumbent President has tremendous power to shape the narrative to his own advantage, as Obama tried to do on Friday by diverting attention away from jobs and onto immigration.
Painting an incumbent President as a victim of the whims of fate is patently ridiculous — but sure makes a handy excuse when one loses a bid for a second term.
Update: How many one-term Presidents lost their re-election bids? As one commenter astutely notes … all of them. I rephrased it above.
Update II: James Hohmann, who publishes the Politico Morning Score, tweeted a response to me:
— James Hohmann (@jameshohmann) June 18, 2012
Well, I didn’t want to assume it was intentional, but it looked pretty clear.