- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The swine flu is so spring 2009. There’s a new affliction sweeping the nation: Obama traumatic stress disorder, or OTSD.

It is a physiological condition caused by overindulgence in Obamamania, which leads to severe hangoverlike pangs of distress and regret. Symptoms include acute anxiety over government takeovers of the auto, financial, mortgage and insurance industries; heart palpitations over President Obama’s proposed nationalization of health care; hyperventilation over sky-high taxes to pay for socialized medicine and the cap-and-trade carbon scam; panic attacks over a rising 9.5 percent unemployment rate; tremors over his moves to create a permanent Democratic majority, including legalizing 12 million illegal aliens and unionizing vast swaths of the working public; and chronic insomnia over repeated disses to long-standing allies such as Great Britain and Israel and air kisses to brutal dictatorships in Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba.

Generalized symptoms of intestinal distress, headaches and free-floating pain also may occur as the patient comes to a clearer awareness of the path on which Mr. Obama has set the nation. (Page 1,019 of the House health care bill offers coverage of OTSD, but you must be counseled on “end-of-life” issues by an Obama appointee before receiving treatment.)

OTSD manifests itself in other ways. Mr. Obama’s poll numbers show dramatically hemorrhaging support for him and his policies. Gallup and Rasmussen Reports have him with less than 50 percent job approval, with majorities disapproving of his handling of his two signature issues, the economy and health care.

Mr. Obama apparently believes he can inoculate people from OTSD through repeated appearances, during which he applies his storied charisma and silver-tongued rhetorical flourishes. In the beginning of this week alone, he scheduled four town-hall meetings on health care. These were set directly on the heels of last week’s presidential press conference, which drew far fewer views than his previous three pressers and drove his poll ratings down even further.

In fact, the media’s torrid love affair with Mr. Obama has created a secondary symptom of OTSD: The more people habituate to his celebrity, the more his mystique diminishes. His socialist economic policies, radical political tendencies, abdication of leadership to the congressional far left on economic stimulus and health care, depletion of racial good will with intemperate and reckless comments, and flaccid national security and foreign policies have created an inviting environment for OTSD to set in.

The more people see Mr. Obama promoting his agenda, the more out of touch he appears and the more out of control his policies look.

It’s no coincidence there is a demonstrable negative correlation between the increased number of appearances he is making and positive poll numbers; it’s an almost perfect inverse relationship. Whose bright idea is it to keep the guy talking? The more he speaks, the more people acquire OTSD. What worked during the campaign is failing now.

Phase two of the OTSD epidemic will bring a different set of symptoms to the Obama White House itself. When previous administrations have suffered from earlier strains of traumatic stress disorder — from collapsing poll numbers, a less deferential press and scandal or other political crisis — they have exhibited certain common signs.

What symptoms might we see from those quarantined in the Obama bunker?

c Infighting among top advisers serious enough to lead Mr. Obama to consider sacrificing at least one of them, perhaps Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel or senior adviser David Axelrod. Political crises always require a sacrificial lamb, and the president decides whose blood will be spilled.

c Desperate turf protecting, as aides try to save their own skins and insulate themselves and their portfolios from political fallout.

c Increasing leaks, as even the tightest ships begin to list and take on water.

c Growing doubts among the staff about the agenda and each other, leading to greater cronyism and rumors.

c A big effort to cover up the internal strife with “unity” events that bring administration officials together in seeming harmony.

c Official statements from the president and his representatives that appear more and more disconnected from reality.

c A loss of cool from the president himself as he shows growing signs of impatience and fatigue. The mask begins to slip, the confidence wanes, and the facade of composure gives way to panic and insularity.

These universal symptoms of a weakened presidency may show up relatively soon if OTSD continues to spread. A slide of authority this early in a presidency doesn’t bode well for stemming the contagion.

Mr. Obama had better “hope” his luck “changes,” or his body politic may succumb to an OTSD epidemic.

Of course, the only known antidote to OTSD is a return to conservative principles of limited government, free-market economics, lower taxes, and individual freedom. When the country re-embraces those ideas, OTSD will dissipate, and the nation eventually will make a full recovery.

Monica Crowley is a nationally syndicated radio host, a panelist on “The McLaughlin Group” and a Fox News contributor.

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