Even the Butter Cow at the Iowa State Fair is not enough to sweeten the mood.
Three years ago, Barack Obama’s unlikely presidential dream was given
wings by rapturous Iowans — young, old and in-between — who saw in the
fresh-faced, silky-voiced black senator a chance to leap past the
bellicose, rancorous Bush years into a modern, competitive future where
we once more had luster in the world.
“We are choosing hope over fear,” Senator Obama told a delirious crowd of 3,000 here the night he won the Iowa caucuses.
But fear has garroted hope, as America reels from the latest humiliating
blows on the economy and in Afghanistan. The politician who came across
as a redeemer in 2008 is now in need of redemption himself.
Faced with a country keening for reassurance and reinvention, Obama
seems at a loss. Regarding his political skills, he turns out to be the
odd case of a pragmatist who can’t learn from his mistakes and adapt.
Many of his Democratic supporters here, who once waited hours in line
just to catch a glimpse of The One, are disillusioned.
“We just wish he’d be more of a fighter,” said one influential Democrat
with a grimace. Another agreed: “You can’t blame him for everything. I
just wish he would come across more forceful at times, but that is not
the dude’s style. Detached hurts you when things are sour. You need some
of Clinton’s ‘I feel your pain’ compassion.”
The president has been so spectacularly unable to fill the leadership
void in Washington that the high-spirited Michele Bachmann feels free to
purloin Obama’s old mantra.
“The power behind our campaign is hope and a future,” she chirped to a
sparse crowd Monday in Atlantic, Iowa. “That’s all I believe in.” That
and making America safe for old-fashioned light bulbs and not those
weird curly ones.
Obama’s response on Monday to Friday’s Standard & Poor’s downgrade
and to the 22 Navy Seal commandos and 8 other soldiers killed by a
Taliban rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan was once more too
little, too late. It was just like his belated, ineffectual response on
the BP oil spill and his reaction to the would-be Christmas Day bomber;
it took him three days on vacation in Hawaii to speak about the
terrorist incident when the country was scared about national security,
and then he spent the next week callously shuttling from the podium to
the golf course.
Bachmann has been riding around Iowa in her bus, with Elvis music and
her name emblazoned 25 times on the outside, mocking Obama for going to
Camp David last weekend and burrowing in, while the country was roiling.
His inability to grab a microphone and spontaneously assuage Americans’
fears is strange. If the American servicemen had died on a Monday, he
wouldn’t have waited until Wednesday to talk about it. He doesn’t like
the bully pulpit, just the professor’s lectern.
After failing to interrupt his Camp David weekend to buck up the country
on one of its worst days in history, he tacked on his condolences for
the soldiers’ families to his economic pep talk, in what had to be the
most inept oratorical segue of his presidency. (Continues here)