President Obama swept into office on a theme of “Hope and Change” (remember those days?). But 5 1/2 years later, he spits only bitterness and pessimism, blaming Republicans, the media — even ordinary Americans — for his impotence.
More than that, Mr. Obama bemoans the state of America itself, but offers no solutions. He’d rather lay blame, rather take nothing at all than compromise — all to win another partisan talking point. And in speech after speech, he blames everyone but himself for the nation’s woes.
The Founders laid out a dynamic outline for a balanced republic: Congress, made of up elected officials from small regions across the country, would wield the true power. The harder it is to get something done, the better, the Founders rightly reasoned, because the minority would never be overrun by the mob and compromise would be key to progress.
While the president would be checked by the legislature, he would have something lawmakers could only dream of: The bully pulpit. His voice would rise above all others: He could smash and pound and hammer away, swaying public opinion until a groundswell from the masses forced action. (See Roosevelt, Teddy.)
But Mr. Obama has besmallified the presidency to become nothing more than the National Nagger. Everything is bad, bad, bad. Just as Jimmy Carter did in his infamous “malaise” speech, when he declared that America was suffering a “crisis of confidence,” Mr. Obama is now a yapping lapdog, blaming lawmakers, Americans — even the Founders themselves — for the state of the union.
“We can debate a lot about whether the Senate rules need to be changed and are there problems with our media and campaign finance and there are a whole bunch of structural reasons why Washington isn’t working as well as it should,” Mr. Obama said last week in a particularly bilious speech to Democratic donors in Los Angeles, most of whom paid $32,000 a plate.
With that line, Mr. Obama objected to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, namely the First Amendment. And he went on:
“Part of what contributes to that is the sense that nobody in Washington cares about them; or what people in Washington care about is their own jobs, their own positions, their own perks, squabbling between the two parties.
“And so not only have we seen in Congress, in particular, over the last three to four years an utter failure to address the concerns of ordinary middle-class families, but that reinforces, then, people’s sense that there’s no point in us getting involved at all, and increases apathy or a lack of confidence in our government.”
Unlike President Ronald Reagan, who effused optimism and saw America as that “shining city on a hill,” Mr. Obama sees only darkness, brought on, of course, by a party that half the country supports. Instead of looking for compromise in his quest to have a “Year of Action,” the cynical Mr. Obama travels the country to blame Republicans, painting the GOP as the enemy — an enemy that must be vanquished.
“Their willingness to say no to everything — the fact that since 2007, they have filibustered about 500 pieces of legislation that would help the middle class just gives you a sense of how opposed they are to any progress — has actually led to an increase in cynicism and discouragement among the people who were counting on us to fight for them. The conclusion is, well, nothing works,” he said at another swanky fundraiser in La Jolla, California.
While President Lyndon Johnson wielded a mighty whip to get things done and President Bill Clinton triangulated around his foes, Mr. Obama sees no way to lead. Republicans often oppose him on policy, but rather than look for common ground, Mr. Obama simply throws up his hands and says, “They won’t let me play president!”
So many reasons for failure. And not one is himself. How shocked will he be when voters do follow his call to action and show up to the polls in November — only to vote Democrats out of office.
One really must wonder if then — even then — he will shoulder any of the blame.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.