It seems only yesterday when the media was terrified of publishing anything critical about Barack Obama and here we are today with a hard-hitting article in the Washington Post by Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie titled What’s Next, Mr. President – Cardigans? Welch and Gillespie lead off with this sizzling paragraph:
Barely six months into his presidency, Barack Obama seems to be driving south into that political speed trap known as Carter Country: a sad-sack landscape in which every major initiative meets not just with failure but with scorn from political allies and foes alike. According to a July 13 CBS News poll, the once-unassailable president's approval rating now stands at 57 percent, down 11 points from April. Half of Americans think the recession will last an additional two years or more, 52 percent think Obama is trying to "accomplish too much," and 57 percent think the country is on the "wrong track."
Hang on – there’s more:
From a lousy cap-and-trade bill awaiting death in the Senate to a health-care reform agenda already weak in the knees to the failure of the stimulus to deliver promised jobs and economic activity, what once looked like a hope-tastic juggernaut is showing all the horsepower of a Chevy Cobalt. "Give it to me!" the president egged on a Michigan audience last week, pledging to "solve problems" and not "gripe" about the economic hand he was dealt.
Despite such bravura, Obama must be furtively reviewing the history of recent Democratic administrations for some kind of road map out of his post-100-days ditch.
Welch and Gillespie continue with the Carter comparisons:
And perhaps most important, as with Carter, his specific policies are genuinely unpopular. The auto bailout -- which, incidentally, is illegal, springing as it has from a fund specifically earmarked for financial institutions -- has been reviled from the get-go, with opposition consistently polling north of 60 percent. Majorities have said no to bank bailouts and to cap and trade if it would make electricity significantly more expensive.
But here’s where the criticism really gets harsh (emphasis mine):
The key to understanding Obama's predicament is to realize that while he ran convincingly as a repudiation of Bush, he is in fact doubling down on his predecessor's big-government policies and perpetual crisis-mongering. From the indefinite detention of alleged terrorists to gays in the military to bailing out industries large and small, Obama has been little more than the keeper of the Bush flame. Indeed, it took the two of them to create the disaster that is the 2009 budget, racking up a deficit that has already crossed the historic $1 trillion mark with almost three months left in the fiscal year.
And now for Obama’s “magical realism”:
Such is the extent of Obama's magical realism that he can promise to post all bills on the Internet five days before signing them, serially break that promise and then, when announcing that he wouldn't even try anymore, have a spokesman present the move as yet another example of "providing the American people more transparency in government."
The conclusion will no doubt turn the stomach of Obama’s cadre of Chicago aides, especially Axelrod, but just check this out (emphasis mine):
Finally, it's time to connect the poster boy for hope to the original Man From Hope. After Bill Clinton bit off more domestic policy than even he could chew, leading to a Republican rout in the midterm elections of 1994, the 42nd president refocused his political intelligence on keeping his ambitions and, as a result, the size of government growth, limited. Though there is much to complain about in his record, the broad prosperity and mostly sound economic policy under his watch aren't included.
This shouldn't be a difficult task for Obama. As a political animal, he has always resembled Clinton more than Carter. This might help him avoid the Carteresque pileup he's driving into. Far more important, it just might help the rest of us.
Hey, fellas, you really expect Barack Obama, the candidate in the Democratic primary who dissed the Clinton Administration and expressed admiration for the leadership of Ronald Reagan, to own up to Bill’s successes and even follow his example? Don't count on it.