Who Does He Trust?
posted at 1:45 pm on February 13, 2010 by Howard Portnoy
Years ago, before he became the doyen of late-night TV comedy, Johnny Carson emceed a game show called “Who Do You Trust?” The show, which was similar in premise to The Newlywed Game, involved contestants having to decide whether to answer a question themselves or trust a companion to answer for them.
Now that it’s become clear even to sage political analysts like the Times’ Charles Blow that Barack Obama can’t be trusted to tie his own shoes, the question for Obama is who to trust. He’s getting opinions from every quarter imaginable — the extreme left (which Blow represents), the far left, the left, and the lunatic fringe.
Blow’s advice is simple and comes in two parts. The first is get America back to work. The second — and more interesting — part is shake up the staffing of the West Wing. Now this second part would be tantalizing to non-Obama supporters, who would enjoy seeing (for example) Robert Gibbs, a brutish lout, get booted out the door onto Pennsylvania Avenue with a chamois and a can of Kiwi Shoe Polish, so he can begin a career more in line with his skill set. Ditto David Axelrod, a a brutish lout, etc.
But how sound a piece of advice would it be for Obama to jettison the group that got him to 1600 Pennsylvania in the first place? He has made it clear from his appointments so far that he gravitates toward people from the above-mentioned lunatic fringe when selecting individuals to serve him in advisory roles. As his poll numbers inch ever closer to the terminal cut-off of 47 percent — a popularity rating at or below which no president was ever elected to a second term — how wise would it be to trust Obama to assemble a crew as good as the minimally acceptable staff he has now?
Okay, clearly, Obama should tell Blow to blow.
Who is else is the president getting advice from? Well, there’s Joe Klein. Klein used to be a member of the extreme left, but his own craziness has driven him over the edge of the lunatic fringe. Klein thinks Obama should give the country the middle finger — figuratively speaking. He echoes a view that Obama himself occasionally gives utterance to when he is musing aloud. That is to forge ahead with his original plans for health care reform, cap and trade, the whole enchilada, and worry later that he has flouted the wishes of the people who elected him. Once they understand it was all for their own good, all will be forgiven and Obama’s likeness will begin to be hewn from the granite face of Mt. Rushmore.
The main problem with this advice is that Obama no longer has the political capital to make any of these initiatives happen. The votes simply aren’t there any longer.
So who do I think Obama should trust? I think he should trust me. I have a piece of advice for him that I believe he will eventually be receiving from his party’s leadership when it is clear that he is dragging all of their careers and the party’s very foundations down with him. Better he should act now than wait until the damage is so far along that even the most politically correct histories of his administration will paint him as an abject failure.
I think he should announce his intention to resign from the Office of President effective immediately. He should tell the American people he has learned he is sick — I don’t know: let’s say it’s some rare blood disease — and that he has decided to tender his resignation for the good of the country. He’s not actually sick, not so far as I know, but he should say it anyway.
Following that advice won’t do a whole lot to alter his tarnished image; he has already done much to hurt the country, and there’s no walking that back. But at least it will prevent his name from becoming a verb meaning “to fail.” (Tom worked night and day to make the school baseball team but ultimately he obamaed.) His children won’t have to live a life of disgrace knowing that their last name has joined the dubious ranks of Lynch, Burke, and others that aren’t coming to mind right now.