Green Room

“Shellshocked”

posted at 12:34 pm on October 14, 2010 by

I’m wading through Peter Baker’s long NYT Mag piece on the Obama presidency thus far. It has an funereal vibe:

Yet even if the White House saw it coming, this is an administration that feels shellshocked. Many officials worry, they say, that the best days of the Obama presidency are behind them. They talk about whether it is time to move on.

Obama’s diagnosis of what went wrong is, well, wrong:

“Given how much stuff was coming at us,” Obama told me, “we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. There is probably a perverse pride in my administration — and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top — that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular. And I think anybody who’s occupied this office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can’t be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion.”

As far as we know, he said that with a straight face, though he was notoriously disengaged with the finer points, and even some larger ones, of his health care reform. He surely never read any of the bills. But he did spend an inordinate amount of time campaigning and shilling for it. Mark Hemingway doesn’t know where to begin with that:

Then the idea that Obama neglected  “marketing and P.R. and public opinion.” The president gave 54(!) speeches on health care reform, including a special joint session of Congress and prime time infomercial. And yet, he’s still of the opinion he just hasn’t explained it properly or something? We’re gonna like this turkey any day now! (Also, the fact he’s explaining his policy approach in his eleventy billionth magazine profile should tell you something — as president, Obama’s even posed for the cover of The American Dog.)

Heh.

The “failure to communicate” meme is like blaming a baby’s unhappiness on “colic”: it’s a convenient catch-all that no one can prove wrong.

This part was interesting:

Obama advisers who left the White House recently have been struck how different, and worse, things look from the outside. As he made a round of corporate job interviews after stepping down as White House budget director, Peter Orszag was stunned to discover how deep the gulf between the president and business had become. “I’d thought it was an 8, but it’s more like a 10,” he told me. “And rather than wasting time debating whether it’s legitimate,” he added, referring to his former colleagues, “the key is to recognize that it’s affecting what they do.”

Bit of a contradiction here, between this:

Unlike Clinton, who never met a rope line he did not want to work, Obama does not relish glad-handing. That’s what he has Vice President Joe Biden for. When Obama addressed the Business Roundtable this year, he left after his speech without much meet-and-greet, leaving his aides frustrated that he had done himself more harm than good. He is not much for chitchat.

And this:

But as Obama gets back on the campaign trail, aides have noticed his old spirit again. He particularly enjoys the so-called backyard sessions on the lawns of supporters. “That’s the happiest I’ve seen him in a long time,” an aide said. After one, Obama told the aide, “This reminds me of Iowa on the bus.”

Perhaps he doesn’t mind chitchat with those who might faint at his feet, but dreads it with those who might expose his ignorance.

Our thin-skinned prez is even touchy about criticism of his redecoration of the Oval Office!

He told me he was happy with the redecorating of the office. “I know Arianna doesn’t like it,” he said lightly. “But I like taupe.”

Good. Grief. Was he expecting a medal for his good taste?

Peter Wehner has read the whole thing and concludes:

The White House, then, is characterized by habitual vanity, rising cynicism, collapsing morale, and increasing resentment toward politics and governing, itself.

Joe Weisenthal understands the Democrats’ dismay at the portrait the Obama WH painted of itself:

Remember, in 2008, not only was Obama more popular than McCain, he has the benefit of inciting a movement behind him. That’s now totally gone, and rather than exciting anyone, the administration is projecting sadness.

So close to an election, the least they could do is fake it.

It seems they’re too wrapped up in their own angst for that. How will they be able to handle what’s coming in a few weeks?

Cross-posted at P&P.

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This guy is/was so monumentally unprepared intellectually and emotionally for the job it is painful to watch. And painful to be a citizen dealing with the results of this incompetence.

Went into a store the other day and noticed they were selling “National Embarrass-mints”… with a picture of Bush the Younger on the lid. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I walked out.

WitchDoctor on October 14, 2010 at 12:50 PM

He told me he was happy with the redecorating of the office. “I know Arianna doesn’t like it,” he said lightly. “But I like taupe.”

As in Arianna Huffington? So He knows what a blogger thinks of his carpet, but He won’t talk with business executives, you know the ones who create jobs & wealth that He needs for His tax and spend scams?

rbj on October 14, 2010 at 1:34 PM

I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to learn how shellshocked they are and about their hurt feelings. I doubt the left will ever hold the media responsible for creating this insane feedback loop, crowing about how wonderful The One is and feeding his already disproportionate ego. I also doubt he’ll ever be self-aware enough to recognize where he truly went wrong, but at least we can hope he’ll be bitter enough not to run again.

You can go away mad, Mr. President, as long as you go away.

Laura Curtis on October 14, 2010 at 2:14 PM

The White House, then, is characterized by habitual vanity, rising cynicism, collapsing morale, and increasing resentment toward politics and governing, itself.

The President’s petulant, silly line about Republicans “having to learn to get along with me” does not bode well for the next 2 years. How would the Secret Service respond to a coup by the Executive Branch, and who would pronounce such an act as a coup? What if the One decides to usurp all power because he is tired of being limited by “politics”? Our Constitution does not give a clear directive for deposition of a tyrannical President like that of Honduras, and not all power grabs will be impeachable.

For all their foresight, I think the Founders never anticipated our electorate choosing such an unready leader.

May we all pray for his immediate growth in patience, wisdom and maturity so such a conflict never happens. The next 2 years could be great years for our country’s future, and a mature Obama could still have hope for re-election.

But even a taupe Oval Office will grow tired of a petty tyrant after 4 years.

rwenger43 on October 14, 2010 at 2:22 PM

As he made a round of corporate job interviews after stepping down as White House budget director, Peter Orszag was stunned to discover how deep the gulf between the president and business had become. “I’d thought it was an 8, but it’s more like a 10,” he told me.

Well duh. And they think they’re so smart.

YehuditTX on October 14, 2010 at 3:05 PM

He thought he was Chavez, Castro and Mugabe all rolled into one, but there’s still enough of us aware and awake to this socialist grab for power and able to put a halt to it. The gop better be ready on day one to do the same.

Kissmygrits on October 14, 2010 at 5:18 PM

Awww…..their little feelings are hurt. Why is it I just don’t feel an ounce of empathy….

elclynn on October 15, 2010 at 12:46 AM

The “failure to communicate” meme is like blaming a baby’s unhappiness on “colic”: it’s a convenient catch-all that no one can prove wrong.

It’s the same old “we didn’t get our message across” bulls— that the Democrats have been using for a zillion years.

Django on October 15, 2010 at 6:05 PM

This is the most self-pitying administration I have ever seen. Could you imagine Reagan wallowing in self-pity like these guys do? “Oh, poor us, we’ve had so much to deal with and we just don’t get the credit we deserve.”

Hey, Obama: Man-up and quit feeling sorry for yourself already.

JohnInCA on October 17, 2010 at 1:44 PM