Inside the Beltway
OBAMA, CHARACTER ACTOR
“Poll: In head-to-head matchup, Obama who ran in 2008 would trounce current Obama. The popularity of old Obama spells trouble for the new one,” proclaims comedian Andy Borowitz in a parody commentary. “Most troubling for the president, a significant number of voters — nearly 25 percent — no longer believe that the 2008 Obama and the current Obama are the same person.”
Yes, well. Mr. Borowitz could be flirting with truth here as President Obama wrestles to reconcile the remarkable but premature “hope and change” persona that emerged in his campaign three years ago with the new role demanded by White House realities, and his own re-election challenges.
“What we are seeing is a president attempt to create, almost out of whole cloth, his own character, his own narrative, his own truth. That might work in an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel; it works less well in an American presidential campaign,” says Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributor to Commentary magazine.
“To watch a young child indulge in heroic fantasies of himself can be charming. To watch a president indulge in heroic fantasies of himself is disquieting,” Mr. Wehner adds.
“The false intimacy of the Obama online media campaign has finally gotten to the point where the president sounds like a plaintive boyfriend worried about trying to save the relationship,” observes the Atlantic senior editor Garance Franke-Ruta.
“He knows he’s got a problem, and the problem is maybe we don’t love him any more — not like we did in the heady days when he swept us off our feet and we decided we wanted him to move in with us.”
It’s starting: Affable presidential hopeful Herman Cain visits NBC’s “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno on Friday, a fitting finale to a splendid week that finds Mr. Cainthe king of favorability polls and the proverbial man of the hour. He meets with Donald Trumpon Monday, and kicks off a national book tour the following morning for his appropriately punctuated memoir, “This is Herman Cain!” But Cain cachet continues.
“This guy’s the one who makes sense to me. He’s a sweet man. He’s not self-aggrandizing,” says comedian and syndicated talk radio host Dennis Miller, who now plans to stage a fundraiser for Mr. Cain and suggest a new campaign bumper sticker for the candidate: “Cain vs. Not Able.”
A newly dramatic President Obama collected $7 million for his campaign from the well-heeled celebrities of Hollywood in the past few days. But forget the glitz and bring on the cozy: Mr. Obama’s grass-roots appeal to modest donors is running full tilt as the end-of-quarter fundraising deadline looms Friday. All candidates must disclose how much they’ve raised and spent. Needless to say, a fat purse looks good to voters and the press alike.
“Our opponents have significant operations on the ground in key battleground states, full-time candidates without day jobs, and a lot of media attention to fuel their campaigns,” Obama for America campaign manager Jim Messina says in a new fundraising plea. “President Obama has you. And when you’re building a grass-roots organization from the bottom up, the first person gets the next one involved.”
He’s looking for donations as small as $3, and the campaign predicts that 1 million loyal Democrats could cough up a few dollars by October. Mr. Messina is also coordinating a “Grassroots Fundraising Challenge” prize for the two local fundraisers who organize the most small-scale donations by week’s end. Mr. Obama will call the lucky pair, while Vice President Joseph R. Biden will phone the runners-up.
“You could ask Barack Obama or Joe Biden to call anyone: your mom, partner, best friend, grandma — even you,” the campaign promises.
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