The funk into which Barack Obama has fallen can be chalked up to a host of reasons — the failure to engage on his own legislative agenda, the failure of ObamaCare, lack of attention to the crisis in employment for almost a year, and so on. Some Democrats think that the problem goes beyond the agenda and extends to Obama’s conception of a President. After having borne themselves the brunt of scoldings from Obama in his State of the Union speech, Politico reports that some in his party wonder why Obama insists on casting himself as the national nanny:
For a president who ran on uplifting themes like change and hope, Barack Obama spends an awful lot of time scolding Americans about how he hopes they’ll change.
He has advised parents to “replace that video game with a book and make sure that homework gets done.” He has urged members of Congress not to read blogs or watch 24-hour cable news. And he’s challenged lobbyists, lawmakers, bankers, journalists, insurance companies and other heads of state to do a better job.
He’s prodded people to get off the couch, eat healthier and exercise more. He’s even suggested Americans buy stocks, U.S.-made cars and energy-efficient light bulbs, while cautioning them not to max out their credit cards.
At times, having Obama in the Oval Office is like having a really powerful Dr. Phil around.
Well, Dr. Phil never whines about how much work Dr. Laura left him when he gained pre-eminence, so I’m not sure that analogy works.
Carol Lee quotes former Clinton aides DeeDee Myers and Paul Begala as saying some of this might be necessary, but too much becomes damaging, which is absolutely true. No one respects a manager who constantly crabs about everyone around him but doesn’t roll up his or her own sleeves to participate in the work. That’s exactly what Obama has done for the past year in pushing Congress to act without bothering to present his own specific ideas to contribute to the effort.
However, part of this comes straight from the agenda itself. After all, if Democrats want to build a nanny state, someone has to be Nanny in Chief, and Obama assumes that will be him. GOP strategist John Feehery says that no one likes a scold, but what has become crystal clear is that the Democratic agenda will put government in that position — with tremendous power to punish what it sees as bad behavior. The founders worried that a strong central government would accrue too much power to infringe on personal choice rather than sticking to truly national issues, which is why they wrote the Constitution to sharply curtail its ability to do just that.
Obama’s problem isn’t just that he acts like a nanny; it’s that his rhetoric makes clear the direction he wants to take the US, if the agenda didn’t already make that clear enough as it is.
Update: I think a little Mary Katharine Ham would be just perfect for this post (thanks to HA commenter Forest for the suggestion):
She came to the same conclusion almost two years ago.