The Incredible, Shrinking, Self-Diminishing Presidency

Gary Andres, writing in The Weekly Standard, raises some doubts about our current President; specifically, His correct understanding of His own job:

Last week House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio delivered a stinging critique of the Obama administration’s economic policies. But the White House’s swift and tart reaction to Boehner was both illuminating and sadly predictable.

On the day of the speech, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer offered a “pre-buttal,” ripped from the playbook of a presidential campaign. Vice President Biden joined the fray, donning his full-electoral jacket, reminding us once again that it was another president that got us into this mess.

Blame is like classic rock for this administration — they like it so much they never stop playing it.

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Aiming a political fusillade at a specific congressional critique may seem normal in today’s rough-and-tumble 24-hour news cycle, but it’s a fundamentally flawed method of steering the ship of state.

Yet this tactical retort to a congressional appraisal was dismally emblematic of a broader governing style, demonstrating that the Obama White House fundamentally misunderstands the role of the presidency.
These spontaneous outbursts of opinion are unnecessary, revealing, and destructive. They are unnecessary because as president, he doesn’t need to engage in every local controversy. That he does paints him as man with more hubris than judgment, who doesn’t understand the nuanced differences between campaigning and governing.

The obvious reason for this is that Obama is precisely what ideologically rigid right-wingers back in 2008 said He was: An all-package-no-substance seagull-manager, skilled at nothing save for sucking up credit and avoiding blame. As a duly elected President, He is stuck in campaign mode and always will be stuck there because that is what He does. The job is being re-defined to comport with His pre-fabricated profile of skill.

But there is another thing going on here: Obama, by answering every single criticism with an elegant bromide about how it’s-the-other-guy’s fault, is simply showing us a cross-section of His base by acting as a champion of it. Anybody who’s argued with liberals at cocktail parties, office water-cooler chit-chats, on the blogs or in the comment threads, already knows all about this: All roads lead back to “me, the liberal, good; you, the conservative, bad.”

How do we get more people hired? Leads to: Anyone who disagrees with me is bad.

Is global warming really a problem? Leads to: The same thing. How do we heal racial division. How do we get more women into our Congress and into our technical professions. Do we need another stimulus plan. Is this the right time for getting out of Iraq. What should we do about North Korea. Has Roe v. Wade outlived its usefulness. On and on and on…discuss any of these issues, and it all leads back to the same place: My guys are swell, yours stink on ice.

Obama is simply showing us what a modern liberal looks like.

It’s really sad when we start discussing issues that have to do with real people being hurt by things. The strident liberal lays down his “everyone in my community is so much better than you are,” and all the adults in the room are left sputtering, looking bewildered, and wondering quietly to themselves — “Yeah, but what about the matter we were supposed to be discussing? Which plans work and which ones don’t?”

It’s just a price we need to pay for having kids run things. Problems don’t get solved, all we can talk about is who’s better than who else.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Washington Rebel.

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