Barack Obama became president by brilliantly telling his own story. To stay president, he will need to show he can understand our story.
At first it was exciting that Obama was the sort of brainy, cultivated Democrat who would be at home in a “West Wing” episode.
But now he acts like he really thinks he’s on “West Wing,” gliding through an imaginary, amber-lit set where his righteous self-regard is bound to be rewarded by the end of the hour.
Hey, dude, you’re a politician. Act like one.
As the head of the Democratic Party, the president should have supported the Democratic candidate for governor in Rhode Island, the one the Democratic Governors Association had already lavished more than $1 million in TV ads on. If Obama was going to refuse to endorse Frank Caprio out of respect for Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican who endorsed him for president and is now running as an independent, the president should have at least stayed out of Providence.
Reductio ad absurdum: After two years of taking his base for granted, the former Pied Piper of America’s youth had to spar with Jon Stewart to try to get the attention of young people who once idolized him.
Obama still has the killer smile, but he’s more often sniffy than funny. When Stewart called White House legislation “timid,” Obama got defensive and offered a less-than-thrilling new mantra: “Yes, we can but ...”
“We have done things that people don’t even know about,” said Obama, who left his Great Communicator mantle back in Grant Park on election night.
In 2008, the message was him. The promise was him. And that’s why 2010 is a referendum on him.
With his coalition and governing majority shattering around him, President Obama will have to summon political skills — starting Wednesday — that he has not yet shown he has.
His arrogance led him to assume: If I build it, they will understand. He can’t get the gratitude he feels he deserves for his achievements if no one knows what he achieved and why those achievements are so vital. (Continues here at NYT)