Obama's powerless. Why not let him go to the beach?

Even the high-minded intellectuals among his critics (and the island is thick with Harvard Democrats) are asking why their hero has lost his punch, turned from national leader into national referee. Where’s the anger, the fight and the passion? One big blast from the presidential trumpet, the argument seems to go, would collapse Republican ramparts and blow away the gathering clouds on the election horizon.

At heart, it’s the old story: frustrated supporters casting around for a panacea. “It’s not the policies,” they chorus, “it’s the presentation.” If only. Alternatively, you get the panicky cry: “Something must be done.” And there’s the rub. If Obama went back to Washington (and there’s no need, since half the White House travels with him), what would he do? Shock treatment for the economy? His first stimulus package scraped through without a single Republican vote, and gained him a year. A second wouldn’t get through a Congress that is now dominated by the Republicans, who are against spending money the government doesn’t have, often to keep in work state employees it doesn’t need. Like America itself, Obama looks horribly short of options…

Should we care? Yes, in the sense that what is true of David Cameron is true of Obama: never mind whether you like him, look at his opponents. Recent days are a reminder of how closely the FTSE and the Dow Jones are linked, so ask yourself: what are the chances of a Republican president from a poor field, with the Tea Party snapping at his trousers, radically improving matters? Then there is America’s international prestige, in which we have a stake. Obama has been a disappointment, no question, even if you were never a fan in the first place. Which makes him a little like the euro: if he goes down, part of us goes down with him.