Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart noted recently that Obama told a Pakistani interviewer that he is an accomplished chef of Pakistani cuisines and reads the great Urdu poets.
“Mr. President,” Stewart said, “while I am impressed with your Renaissance Man-level of knowledge in a plethora of subjects, may I humbly say: That’s great. Just fix the economy!”
Finally, we’re starting to see him sweat.
President Barack Obama made his personal icy cool the trademark of his campaign, the tenor of his White House and the hallmark of an early run of successes at home and abroad. But as the glamour wears off and a long, frustrating summer wears on, he is being forced to improvise — stooping to respond to political foes and adjusting his tactics and demeanor for the trench warfare of a legislative agenda.
The root of the change is one that faces every president: Economic and international realities that resist political charm. Iran and North Korea have shown no interest in the president’s outstretched hand. The economy has delivered a double-whammy, with rising unemployment stirring voters’ concerns while sluggish growth deprives the government of tax revenues Obama would like to spend on new programs.
Health care reform, which once appeared flush with momentum from earlier congressional victories, is now on a slog through no less than five committees, which include Democrats who either aren’t sold on Obama’s expansive vision or can’t figure out how to convince voters to pay for it.
“This is when it gets harder,” the president told supporters June 30.
And so it has. (continues at POLITICO)