President Barack Obama is telegraphing rather clearly that he has given up on the presidency. It is a phenomenon that has been observable for some time. The Free Beacon’s Matthew Continetti made the compelling case that Obama embraced his post-presidency as early as June. For Obama, there remains one final headache: the midterm elections. After that, he can abandon the final flimsy pretenses designed to project the impression that he is at all interested in governing the country.
But the road to the post-presidency is peppered with speed bumps and potholes — inconveniences that Obama would much rather avoid. Nuisances arise like the first unilateral annexation of territory in one sovereign European state by another for the first time since World War II. Frustrations like the systematic effort to cover up fatal incompetency at the VA. Or bothers like a humanitarian disaster involving children on America’s southern border.
Events are such inconsiderate things.
So the president does what he can to avoid being too closely associated with these crises by only addressing them when he must and in brief, and by not taking any definitive measures to address them so as to avoid taking blame should those measures fail. The president’s true focus, the object which has kept his attention for most of his political career, is maintaining the adoration of his devotees.
Even at this delicate moment, Obama campaigns. Speaking before an audience of supporters in Texas this week, after spurning lawmakers in his own party and surely those advisors close to him concerned about the inevitable hit in the polls he would take by not seeing the border crisis for himself, the president indulged in a bit of self-pity.
“You hear some of them: ‘Sue him. Impeach him,’” Obama said of Republicans who are attempting to force the president to faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress in compliance with the oath he took.
“You’re going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job while you don’t do your job,” Obama added to the screams of the ever-shrinking pool of believers.
Obama enthralled the rally attendees, and a few reporters, by quoting Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed.” “I’m the guy doing my job,” Obama said, scolding a cast of imaginary Republicans before him. “You must be the other guy.”
Cleverness; it’s why they love him. For Obama’s supporters, it is a reasonable substitute for administering the nation. Take, for example, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski who exemplified the audience most receptive to Obama’s technique.
After making a big show of feigning confusion over the reasoning for the House lawsuit against the president, she reveled in a few of Obama’s one-liners.
Time’s Mark Halperin and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough were dumbstruck. “It’s depressing as an American,” Scarborough said.
“I don’t understand the game or the strategy,” Halperin agreed.
“I beg to differ just a bit, guys. They’re suing him,” Brzezinski interjected. “I mean, it’s ridiculous. I’m not sure what tone you want him to take.”
With that, she introduced another satisfying Obama burn.
The president’s rhetorical digs into Republicans remain a potent intoxicant for his supporters. They serve to distract from the nagging, persistent, and increasingly irresistible realization that this presidency, one which began with such promise, has failed.
And, in that moment, the MSNBC hosts stumbled upon Obama’s elusive political strategy: keep Mika, and those with a similar political outlook, happy. Ride it out until the midterms. If possible, avoid catastrophic mistakes and make no waves. Coast.
Brzezinski & Co. are perfectly satisfied with that tactic, but the country will suffer. Great problems will go unaddressed and political factionalism and discord will become the dominant features of the American political character.
These are depressing times for all but partisan Democrats, but that is what happens when the President of the United States is more enamored with his role as the head of his political party.