“Over the last decade, we became a country that relied too much on what we bought and consumed.”
— President Obama, Nov. 19, 2011
“Too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns.”
— President Carter, July 15, 1979
There are only two ways to look at the Obama re-election campaign right now: Either the upstart candidate who stunned the world when he defeated the Clinton machine to capture the Democratic nomination three years ago has lost every bit of that massive mojo, or the bruised and battered president, after three years in office, just doesn’t want another spin in the Oval Office.
How else to explain the nonstop missteps, the stammering and stuttering campaign, not to mention the brazen attacks on American voters, who, he has said, have “fallen behind,” lost their “ambition and imagination,” gotten “lazy” and “a bit soft” - this is a guy seeking the support of America?!
For the past 36 months, Americans have hoped for the best. But it hasn’t turned out that way. In fact, some argue that Mr. Obama actually made the economy worse - the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said last week that his 2009 stimulus package may have sustained as few as 700,000 jobs at its peak and that over the long run it will be a net drag on the economy.
But then, this. The president, traveling the country purportedly to look for votes in 2012, decided to lecture the American people on their shortcomings: fat, lazy, stupid. And now, he’s channeling - of all people - Jimmy Carter.
Don’t doubt the premise here. Democrats must spend - spend and spend and spend. It’s in their DNA. Mr. Obama offered a $3.8 trillion budget this year, to be paid for by - $2.1 trillion in revenue (read: your money). He knows that over the next four years, with automatic budget cuts set to take effect and the American people’s rising ire over the profligate spending in Washington, he’s going to have no money to redistribute to the masses.
So, why bother? It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Who needs it? Why preside over a government that, instead of giving everything to everybody free, takes it all away, cuts so deeply that nearly every American will be affected? Especially if you think Americans are lazy, lack ambition - they’ll never rise to the challenge, so why not just bail?
Crazy? Not according to two Democratic strategists. Patrick H. Caddell, who coincidentally worked as a pollster for Mr. Carter, and Douglas Schoen think Mr. Obama should follow LBJ and just pack it in.
“He should abandon his candidacy for re-election in favor of a clear alternative, one capable not only of saving the Democratic Party, but more important, of governing effectively and in a way that preserves the most important of the president’s accomplishments. He should step aside,” they wrote, “for the one candidate who would become, by acclamation, the nominee of the Democratic Party: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”
Of course, Mr. Obama’s hubris will not allow such a move. But consider this, 344 days before Election Day 2012: The president’s greatest advocate, Chris Matthews, who got a chill up his leg every time he heard the candidate speak, has thrown in the towel.
“Once having won the office,” the MSNBC cheerleader said, “he seemed to think that that was the end of it in terms of his connection to the American people. … I think everybody feels an absence of communication from the time he’s been elected. And it’s not about not being left-wing enough or too left. That’s not his problem. It’s connection. And Mrs. Obama, she’s an amazing asset. And what has she done? Obesity? How about connecting with the American people about being Americans? I don’t think she’s happy. I don’t think they like being in the White House. The American people can tell that. They don’t seem thrilled at the fact the American people have selected them as our first family. I don’t sense the gratitude, the happiness level, the thrill of being president.”
Mr. Matthews went on: “What are we trying to do in this administration? Why does he want a second term? Would he tell us? What’s he going to do in the second term? More of this? Is this it? Is this as good as it gets? Where are we going? Are we going to do something the second term? He has yet to tell us. He has not said one thing about what he would do in the second term.”
Because he doesn’t really want one. And Americans seem ready to oblige.