Monday, November 30, 2009

Seven Deadly Stories

John Harris at Politico tells the tale of the seven stories the Obama administration don't want told, or worse, take hold as the Obama presidential narrative unfolds.  No one knows the importance of the narrative more than Barack Obama who won office creating a winning storyline that, "featured an almost mystically talented young idealist who stood for change in a disciplined and thoughtful way," according to Harris.  The truth, however, was found in the anti-Obama narrative Harris describes, "featuring an opportunistic Chicago pol with dubious relationships who was more liberal than he was letting on."

A year into his presidency, seven narratives the Obama administration would argue as unfair are gaining traction:

He thinks he’s playing with Monopoly money   Tale as old as time, Democrats can't grow government enough and tax and spend their way out of the majority every time.  The disciplined and thoughtful crew at the helm of the Good Ship Obama didn't want to waste the crisis and passed a trillion dollar "stimulus" package designed to fulfill every big government dream the Democrats ever dared to dream.  When unemployment continued to rise well past the predicted levels the stimulus was supposed to prevent, independents jumped ship in droves.  The House passed a wildly unpopular cap and trade bill that simmers in a pot in the Senate while the two bodies debate alternate versions of a  trillion dollar health care takeover.
Verdict:  This is already firmly rooted as evidenced by the VA & NJ elections as well as the flight of the Independents.

Too much Leonard Nimoy 
This story is currently a favorite of the Saturday Night Live and Chris Matthews crowd who would argue Obama's cool intellect creates a wall between his Ivy League educated mind and the idiocy of the masses who just need some warmth and empathy from their leader.  Harris argues the Spock associations of Maureen Dowd and Joel Achenbach is strong on Afghanistan:
The Spock imagery has been especially strong during the extended review Obama has undertaken of Afghanistan policy. He’ll announce the results on Tuesday. The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving. No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.
Verdict:  Obama can rest easy on this one, most of his real world critics call this "dithering" and indecisiveness on a good day.

That’s the Chicago Way 

Here Obama is not nearly as fortunate as  he has been on the "he's just too darned smart," story.  Harris makes the point the administration has brought this on themselves but can't resist throwing the Republicans in the mix for a little blame as well:
It does not help that many West Wing aides seem to relish an image of themselves as shrewd, brass-knuckled political types. In a Washington Post story this month, White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, referring to most of Obama’s team, said, “We are all campaign hacks.”

The problem is that many voters took Obama seriously in 2008 when he talked about wanting to create a more reasoned, non-partisan style of governance in Washington. When Republicans showed scant interest in cooperating with Obama at the start, the Obama West Wing gladly reverted to campaign hack mode.
I think Snowe, Specter and Collins handed Obama that trillion dollar stimulus debacle which has left Specter looking for a party to love him ever since.  The party of no has not said no often enough which is part of the reason this crew is in the White House to begin with.

Harris carefully neglects the Valerie Jarrett's of this administration who never met a run down slum they didn't like or the revolving door of union thugs that regularly pay visits to the White House.  Consider this story sold in the minds of millions.

He’s a pushover 
Politico's version is a liberal fairy tale meant to rationalize Obama's failure to lead on the public option and gay marriage though on foreign policy they are getting warmer:
It seems a bit contradictory, to be sure. But it’s a perception that began when Obama several times laid down lines — then let people cross them with seeming impunity. Last summer he told Democrats they better not go home for recess until a critical health care vote but they blew him off. He told the Israeli government he wanted a freeze in settlements but no one took him seriously. Even Fox News — which his aides prominently said should not be treated like a real news organization — then got interview time for its White House correspondent.
It's entirely laughable Fox News gets tossed in this mix.  On foreign policy his no questions please press conference in China and bowing tour and a host of other mess ups may cause some to think he's a pushover but the next storyline may be closer to filling the bill.

He sees America as another pleasant country on the U.N. roll call, somewhere between Albania and Zimbabwe 
Harris resurrects a George H. W. Bush line used against Dukakis to masterful effect here and captures the criticism from the right with accuracy:
Politicians of both parties have embraced the idea that this country — because of its power and/or the hand of Providence — should be a singular force in the world. It would be hugely unwelcome for Obama if the perception took root that he is comfortable with a relative decline in U.S. influence or position in the world.

On this score, the reviews of Obama’s recent Asia trip were harsh.
His peculiar bow to the emperor of Japan was symbolic. But his lots-of-velvet, not-much-iron approach to China had substantive implications.
President Pelosi 
Behind every successful man there is a woman?  Harris' reasoning astounds me a bit here:
The great hazard for Obama is if Republicans or journalists conclude — as some already have — that Pelosi’s achievements are more impressive than Obama’s or come at his expense.

This conclusion seems premature, especially with the final chapter of the health care drama yet to be written.
Pelosi is masterful at whipping her blue dogs.  Still her ability to ram massively unpopular legislation through the House of Representatives isn't likely to have most consider her impressive.  Politico notes Obama has unwisely allowed Pelosi to become much more of an equal than many from both parties think advisable.  Her popularity is in the cellar.   Truthfully only next to a man who has absolutely no legislative accomplishments of his own or tangible executive skills for that matter can Pelosi look more impressive; it's not saying much.

He’s in love with the man in the mirror 

This is my personal favorite and perhaps the most dead on of the deadly seven stories.  Professor Jacobson found a recent picture that captures this problem in a nutshell.  The photo gets a mention by Politico as well:
It’s a common theme of Washington buzz that Obama is over-exposed. He gives interviews on his sports obsessions to ESPN, cracks wise with Leno and Letterman, discusses his fitness with Men’s Health, discusses his marriage in a joint interview with first lady Michelle Obama for The New York Times. A photo the other day caught him leaving the White House clutching a copy of GQ featuring himself.
" It's a gift," don't you know?  Frankly it was Obama's own grossly inflated ego that led him to run for the presidency without any legislative accomplishments or any executive experience.  The American people seemed quite taken with their own image as a nation who can elect an African American to the highest office in the land.  Unfortunately they chose the wrong one to prove the point, ignoring the most accurate storyline that was there all along for those who  chose to see:

H/T: Memeorandum
Jill at Pundit and Pundette has more
Peter Wehner at NRO catches Harris in a mistake I didn't catch.  Confession, I am not a Trekkie.


  1. While I will not question your right to your opinion, you make me ashamed to share citizenship with you.

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    You’d have to be stone deaf not to hear the air hissing out of the Obama balloon.

    Read more: How President Obama Can Take Back His Presidency -- New York Magazine

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